|Quoting CaptainKramer (Reply 204):|
This is a question for any Military Pilots or Tanker Pilots out there. From your experience, how difficult is it to rendesvous with a Military tanker, factoring in that both lead plane and chase plane are working together to meet up in a preset point in space and time.
Difficult but not impossible. In my opinion, it would be unlikely that a crew who had never accomplished a rendezvous before could successfully accomplish one esp at night and without communication with the crew in the aircraft they are rendezvousing with. I'm not familiar with what kinds of speeds a 777 flies at, but one reason rendezvous are typically accomplished lower than FL
300 is to ensure that there is adequate margin on airspeed in case a "tail chase" develops and the rendezvousing aircraft must accelerate to catch up to the lead aircraft. Rendezvous are more challenging at higher altitudes.
A rendezvous is not rocket science but most guys don't get very good at them until they have done quite a few of them. That's why you go to training to learn how to do them and that's why there are currency requirements so that you stay proficient with them.
So, the likelihood of a crew successfully accomplishing a night rendezvous without any real training (Flight Simulator on a PC
doesn't count) is pretty low. On the other hand, it's not out of the realm of possibility. They could have gotten lucky.