Training as a fast jet pilot has to be one of the most uncomfortable and stressful things that you can do
But, unlike the Hawk T1 on our sister squadron, we also have 6 Flying Training Devices (FTDs) which are very similar to the FMS but are an extension of something that we used to use in the old days which was the 'Cardboard Cockpit'. The 'Cardboard Cockpit' is just that - it is a cardboard representation of the aircraft's cockpit and in the good ol' days you were issued one to learn your checks on when you were in ground school and before you started flying. On the Hawk T2 we don't have these anymore and we use the FTDs instead. The FTD is something that you can sit in without all your flight gear on and practise your checks but it also flies like the FMS! It isn't a truly representative flight model, for example it will climb faster than the actual aircraft but it has 90% of the switches you'd find in the actual aeroplane. It has 3 touch-screen monitors that you can setup the Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) with - these are like very small monitors that show things such as your weapons stores page, moving map, synthetic radar display and even your hydraulics status page as there is no analogue display for this anymore. The great thing is that you can pretty much use the FTDs at anytime to practise any of your checks.
In the FTDs you can even get airborne and practise your circuits or link them up and just chase your course mates around the sky hoping that an instructor doesn't walk in and tell you all to stop acting like children
Chair flying is a very powerful tool which allows you to imagine yourself actually in the aircraft practising whatever it is you are needing to do on your next assessed sortie
When I prepare for a complicated sortie or have been out of the cockpit for longer than a week I will invest time in visualising that return to the cockpit - this is also essential if your flying rate (the number of hours you fly per month) is low. It is critical that a pilot keeps themselves up to speed and each person will have subtly different ways of doing it. I prefer to give myself a hour alone with my Flight Reference Cards (FRCs) - these are the checklists for the handling and emergencies that can affect the aircraft.
I then use the Overview - Preview - Inview - Review process
As part of my overview I will imagine me getting into my flight gear, going to the Operations Room and signing the jet out and then walking out to the aircraft
Preview. If you were looking at a textbook the overview would've been to look at the front and back covers and maybe the index. The preview extends on this - you'd now read the first and last paragraph of each chapter. In the world of aviation this is the bit where I'd look at the sortie content - I'd write this down on an A4 piece of paper as a list something like this (the italics are for your understanding):
SUTTO (start-up, taxi, take-off)
SID 31R (Standard Instrument Departure - runway 31 Righthand)
HASLLT Cx (Checks we perform for every sortie to make sure we are tolerant to the effects of 'g' and that we are operating in a safe area)
Max Performance Manoeuvres
LL (Low level)
Instrument Recovery - TAC/PAR
Circuits (Norm, LL) - Flapless straight-in approach
Inview. So, the preview part gave me some more information and I can now visualise the sortie in more detail. The inview part is when I fill in the blank spaces. I'd get my charts out and read up on the SID (departure) that I might be flying anticipating level-off heights, radio calls and power settings required. I would go and make sure I know my HASLLT cxs and practise them so they are fluent - Height, Airframe, Security (for an inverted check), Location, Lookout and TCAS. I would read up on what the Stall entails, what is the fight profile? I would draw it out and then run it through moving my hands to where the gear and flap levers are.
I even go so far as to anticipate the trim changes required
Review. This step is the most critical one and I normally do this twice, once after the inview and then I repeat it prior to the sortie briefing the next day to refresh my knowledge. The review is looking at that A4 piece of paper on which you have written a crib sheet that will help to jog your memory the next day. Take this opportunity to add any more information that you feel might be pertinent to the sortie you are about to fly. And that's it - put the crib sheet somewhere safe, take a break and don't spend longer than an hour on this; the mind gets tired after 30 mins so maybe do the Overview/Preview - tea break - Inview/Review and only then can you go back and watch cats falling off chairs on YouTube.
Visualisation is a powerful tool that, used correctly, can really improve your chances of success in the cockpit and in business
Until we slip the surly bonds of Earth again - fly safe!