April 25, 2006

Norfolk & Oceana 2006

Several classmates and I piled into a van last Friday with the US Navy Commander currently assigned to a fellowship in our program and headed out to Norfolk. Unfortunately, it was a really small group and I was the only one who had made the trip last year as well. Disappointing, but not a surprise given the attitude around the halls ... but I digress ...

We left town at 0530 - JC that was an early day - and we arrived early because our driver did somewhere between 80 and 90 mph the whole way there.

Our day started on the USS San Jacinto with a greeting I have never received on any of my tours with the Navy ... a seated presentation in the wardroom by the XO himself and welcomes from a handful of other people. Demerits for the cookies and coffee they promised but that never actually showed up.

We continued with the PAO and got a longer, more complete tour than I could have imagined. On the USS Jacinto we were able to hear directly from the guys working in each section she took us to instead of just hearing her side of what they do. The guys were extremely proud of their ship, their individual positions within the team, and highly complimentary of one another in ways I haven't seen most any team be. My previous tours have been with somewhat insecure or lax PAOs that didn't really seem to like their job or that people were interrupting their day - this was miles above those previous experiences.

We finished up a little early and headed over to NAS Oceana for the second portion of our day, with our first stop at the Officer's Club for lunch and some much needed coffee. Truthfully though, I really could have done without the auto-dog explanation over dessert.

After lunch we killed some time poking around the different aircraft they have out on display in a little park area while we waited for our next tour guide. We shared a few callsign stories ... and shock of shocks ... no one was surprised by the one I recently received while working for an Air Force Colonel.

The greatest learning experience of the day came from the F-18 simulator. I took several rockin trips through the skies with the "aircraft" handled almost entirely by me (or sometimes the pilot helping us out), from take-off to landing crash. In fact, I don't think any of us managed to make a successful landing. One guy got close when he bounced the plane off the ground and then crashed ... but the Commander and the pilot giving us the tour were the only ones to make successful landings - and a couple carrier landings to boot! But then again, we were all a little "airsick" from standing inside the simulator and watching other people fly...sounds like a good excuse, right?

We finally got back to town in what felt like a downpour and I hustled my butt over to Fran's to join the party that had started over an hour before. I'm sure you will all now forgive my tired and unkempt appearance...

Note to the military: Ignore my excuses above - Plan to invest heavily in my flight training or keep me far, far away from the cockpit of any and all aircraft. I've already dumped three virtual F-18s in the drink and scattered a few more in tiny bits across the landscape. I think that's enough to prove I need a little more practice...


Posted by Princess Cat at April 25, 2006 05:15 PM @ 05:15 PM in Good Times // Permalink | TrackBack