The atmosphere in the 309th is a little more somber, while the unit deals with its second major hospitalization in as many weeks. Many of the pilots have effectively shunned SGT Harper because of the events leading up to the accident. Teamwork within Alpha is equally strenuous, as the leadership rotations also took place the same day.
Sunday morning, COL Ingram sent the 56th an email cautioning the personnel about speaking to the press, and advised them that the pilots and Valkyries were grounded while the investigation was underway. In the meantime, training would continue in the sims.
The next few days consisted of numerous presentations (PowerPoint overload), and simulation exercises involved in-flight transformations, hovering, and numerous obstacle courses in both plane and Guardian modes. Things seemed to return to some level of normalcy, as pilot egos began to resurface. Some exercises caused anxiety, as they involved low speed passes, but the majority of the pilots fared well.
Throughout the week, humor returned, and Van Skiver was even talking about a hot volleyball player he met. Harper was extremely quiet, as the strain of the investigation, heated discussions with his lawyer, and the guilt of putting his wingman in the hospital was slowly eating at his sanity. Caldwell, acted as if everything was fine – either hiding his emotions, or actually being apathetic to the situation.
The flight surgeon informed the squadron that Grant might be returning the following week, but would be pretty banged up. A few of his squadron mates have visited, but he was pretty heavily sedated the first few days.