Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday Memories

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Did I ever tell you about the Time I Drove A Fighter Jet?


Yes, you did read that right. I have driven a fighter jet. But take a closer look at what I wrote. It says that I have driven a fighter jet...it does not say that I have FLOWN a fighter jet. So, sit down, grab a cup of tea and I will start at the beginning.

And now the beginning of this memory must actually start before the beginning, since you may need some backgroud information to understand the magnitude of this adventure.

It all started when I took my first plane ride. It was the summer after my eigth grade year and my family and I flew from Pheonix AZ to Chicago...then on to Romania. I was a little nervous for my first plane ride and I held tightly on to the seat handles. But as the plane took off, I felt a rush of adreniline and I started looking out the window at the passing airport, highway, city and then mountains. I will never forget that moment. It was the moment in time when I fell in love with planes. Not that I want or dream to be a pilot. Quite the contrary...I just love flying. I love planes. I love the sound of the engines roaring.

Well, jumping ahead to 17 years of age (barely 17) I met the man of my dreams. (well, at that time he was more of a boy of my dreams being that he was 16 years old)Anyways...we started dating and we graduated highschool together. Well, after graduation, he joined the Air Force...which has lots of planes, in case you didn't know that...lol. We were married a year later and I moved to a military base with him. It wasn't until our second base that I really got a "feel" for what it was like to be around fighter jets. We lived quite a distance from base at our first location.

At our second base, we lived right on base and I could hear the sound of the fighter jets taking off...all day..all night. At first this could be somewhat annoying but I was so fascinated with the jets that I quickly got used to it.

We could drive down a road off base, close to the runway where jets would take off and land and we would sit in our car and look at the underbellies of them as they flew about 100-200 yds (this is a guess...I don't know for sure...but they were pretty darn close) over our heads. It was especially cool at night, because we could see thier headlights from far away as they were coming in. This always amazed me that planes have headlights too. I had never thought of that before...but it makes sense...they need to see in the dark too.

Well, I quickly grew fond of these jets. I loved to go out on the flightline whenever they would let me (James worked on the flightline) and touch them. He would take me around and explain all the different parts of the jets to me. Ohhhh...I loved it.

Well, after being there for a while, the sqaudron James worked in had a spouse's day. I jumped at the chance to go to this spouse's day. They had a BBQ which I am sure was yummy. I don't really remember that part of the day...go figure, eh? We were going to get to drive a fighter jet...who cared about hot dogs on a day like that.

Well, we had certain training we had to do in order to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. We had to be sized for these special "flight suits" which are super ugly and even though we were technically "sized" for them...they didn't fit well. And you have to understand that the base we were at was in the desert...so it was very, very hot...and in the middle of summer...middle of the day.

Anyway, they showed us how to push the ejection seat button and all that jazz. We weren't going up in the air but they had to teach us all this anyways for safety reason. We then were matched up with a real, live pilot. We practiced taking turns saying our numbers assigned to us. We would each sit in our jet with our pilot and in order, we would say something like, "2, check. ready for takeoff" or something like that...I don't really remember exactly...I wish now that I had written more about this day down. ah well...that's life.

The big moment came when we walked out to our jets. This was so cool. The jets we were to ride in were the two seater kind and I was to sit in the seat behind the pilot. I had my own little controls there but he had overall control of the jet at all times. I was just a co-pilot.

We all lined up to take the taxi ride down the runway. It was quite a long drive over to the runway and on the way, my pilot let me steer the plane. This is where I actually "drove" a plane. And let me tell you!!! This was no easy feat. There is no steering wheel in a plane. There is this stick thing that had I been flying, I would use to pull up and down to get the plane to raise its nose or lower it. (to go up higher or go down lower to the ground...pretty basic there.) But on the floor of the cockpit, there were two pedals which you would push to turn the plane while taxing down and driving on the ground. These pedals were quite hard to push. You see??? The pilot gave me control over driving the plane and he would tell me which direction I needed to go. He would say right...and I would push the right pedal...left and I would push the left pedal. Well, I guess I am a weakling. He told me to turn right and I pushed the pedal and nothing happened. He repeated himself, and I pushed harder and still nothing happened. He then asked me if I was pushing...to which I weakly replies yes...embarressed that I couldn't do it. He let me try a few more times and I did manage to turn the plane a bit...but we did have somewhere to go so he soon took over the driving part and I just sat and looked around.

We got to the edge of the runway and he started down the runway with the plane. We got up to speeds faster than a car and then slowed back down. It was so much fun. I do wish that I could have gone in the air...but they say most people throw up and I really wouldn't have wanted to throw up all over a pilot I didn't know.

So, this has been another eidition of Memories on Monday with Anna. Tune in next week to hear another memory of mine...whatever I feel like chatting about.

I leave you with a picture of me in my stylish flightsuit holding onto my helmet. We didn't get any photos of me in the actual jet so this will have to do. This was truly an experience of a lifetime and a memory I have enjoyed sharing with you.

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6 comments:

Beckie said...

WOW...WHAT A MEMORY!! My goodness, I'm impressed. A great memory. Mine is up.

Reverberate58 said...

This was a wonderful story and your telling was so good I can see you straining to push the pedal! Wonderful Monday Memory! Thanks for sharing.

My MM is up! Hope you are having a marvelous Monday!

Reverberate58 said...

This was a wonderful story and your telling was so good I can see you straining to push the pedal! Wonderful Monday Memory! Thanks for sharing.

My MM is up! Hope you are having a marvelous Monday!

Norma said...

What an exciting memory. I've never done anything like that.

My MM is up.

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

That was one great experience and a memory to remember.
My Monday Memories is up too.

The Shrone said...

What a remarkable experience! Good thing you got a picture of you in the suit, too.