AIR FORCE T-38 TRACK INTERMEDIATES
LOW ALTITUDE TASK MANAGEMENT
Low level flying requires the pilot to accomplish numerous tasks. Some of the tasks include
navigation, route timing, defensive maneuvering, weapons employment, visual lookout, system
updates, etc. The workload associated with low level flying can easily overload the pilot so it is
important to prioritize these tasks. By effectively managing the low altitude workload, you can
maximize an aircraft's offensive capability.
Low altitude tasks can be divided into two groups.
a. Terrain Clearance Tasks (TCT) - any task, mental or physical, which is required to
maintain obstacle clearance and avoid impact with the ground.
b. Mission Tasks (MT) any task required for mission accomplishment. These include
items such as navigation, communication, maintaining formation, and weapons system
So here is a typical scan pattern or crosscheck used to manage low altitude tasks:
1 LOOK OUTSIDE AT NEAR ROCKS (TCT)
2) LOOK OUTSIDE AT FAR ROCKS (TCT)
3) FORMATION (MT)
4) LOOK AT THE MAP (MT)
5) LOOK OUTSIDE AT NEAR NEAR ROCKS (TCT)
6) FORMATION (MT)
7) CHECK ENGINES (MT)
8) LOOK OUTSIDE AT NEAR NEAR ROCKS (TCT)
9) LOOK OUTSIDE AT NEAR FAR ROCKS (TCT)
10) FORMATION (MT)
11) CHECK TIMING TO THE NEXT POINT (MT)
And so on...
The goal is to manage all cockpit tasks with the priority of NOT HITTING THE GROUND. No
mission task can ever override terrain clearance. If a task conflict arises, you must ensure that
terrain clearance or flying the aircraft overrides all other mission tasks. Your life depends on it.
The mission plan is the most important thing to success in Low Level flying. A bad plan, no
matter how well executed, will not be a success and in the worst case can result in death of the
pilot and loss of the aircraft. On the other hand, a good, well executed low level plan can be a
fun and rewarding thing.
7-2 T-38 LOW LEVEL NAVIGATION