Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beginning Technical Training

My Air Force technical training was at Lowry Air Force Base on the east side of Denver, Colorado. (The area now belongs to the city of Denver, I believe.) I remember the flight from San Antonio approaching Denver's Stapleton International Airport. I saw the Rockies in the distance and I rejoiced. The Rocky mountains have the same relationship to Denver as the Cascade Mountains have to Yakima, Washington, my home town. I seem to need mountains for orientation. The flat landscape of San Antonio had left me - well - disoriented (in the literal sense of not knowing which way East lies.)

On arrival there was the usual amount of paperwork mix up. We were finally assigned to our respective training flights and barracks. These were two man rooms , a big difference from the open barracks of Basic Training. As the particular class in school we were assigned to would not enter for a couple of weeks we reported daily for miscellaneous work details. These could be anything from lawn mowing (this was June of 1973) to moving stock at the commissary warehouse. But we had a lot of free time and the Airman's Club served inexpensive drinks. Fortunately I found the library and spent more time reading than drinking.

The format of the Fundamental Electronics training ("Fundies" or even "Funsies" as we referred to it) was a 12 week (nominal) course. Six hours a day was spent in a "self-paced' instruction mode. This meant you had manuals and test equipment at your own work station. As you completed reading the training manuals and performing the practical electrical setups and measurements you were then tested on that section's material. If you passed you moved on to the next training unit. The students in a class did not progress together so there was some moving between classes with different instructors and classmates.

Between physics and math in high school and the minimal amount of electronics I picked up while working toward my novice amateur radio license in college I handled the early stages of the training easily. The later sections built rather logically on the previous as electronic circuits (oscillators, amplifiers, RF transmission, digital electronics) were introduced. I remember missing one question on all the tests in this Fundamental Electronics.

I completed the "12 week" course in 6 weeks. I was allowed to take some leave and fly home to visit my family. I was impressed that wearing an Air Force uniform allowed an upgrade to a fortunately empty seat in first class.