Saturday, January 26, 2008

Flying across the Pacific

A link to his Blog

Whew! Lest you think that the life of a Navy fighter pilot is all glamour and “lighting your hair on fire”, let me try to describe what flying all the way from California to Japan in an F/A-18C is like:

It all started with six of us getting into our jets, starting up, and waiting to take off---only to have the fog season in Lemoore roll in. We had a 6.5 hour flight ahead of us to Hawaii, and we sat in our jets on deck for about an hour until I finally threw in the towel and suggested we get out and stretch and wait for the fog to lift. Finally, close to noon, we put all our flight gear back on, started up again, and were able to take off and head for Hawaii. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say, that while we had a smooth join-up with our tankers all planned out, they ended up not being where they were supposed to be at the right time. Four of us got joined up with each other, and then ATC proceeded to vector us 60 miles west of where we were supposed to rendezvous with our two USAF tankers. Now, right at the start, we’re below our scheduled fuel plan and still haven’t joined up with the tankers. We finally got joined up with one of our tankers west of the rendezvous point, but still needed to join with the other tanker and the other two Hornets (who were the only ones at the rendezvous point where they were supposed to be, and wondering where everyone else was!) Now the tanker we were joined on was more worried about joining with the other tanker than with us having enough fuel to get to Hawaii. We suggested we head west to the next tanking point, begin our tanking, and let the rest of the crew join us there. This seemed to make sense to us, but the tanker crew wanted to turn back to the East to join up with the other tanker, which just put us even further behind on gas.

If it seems like I’m giving my USAF brethren a hard time on this I mean no ill-will. I guess when you’ve got enough gas to fly to Hawaii, and then some, they don’t think too much about us who barely have enough gas to make it to LA.

(Alissa just popped up online, so I’ll have to finish this later with the rest of the story.)

OK, the Internet in my room is AWFUL! I know, I know....wha, wha. I’m sure all you who have experienced a carrier deployment don’t have much sympathy for me. (Not that anyone who has experienced a deployment is necessarily reading any of my dribble. I do appreciate all who do check out this site.) But I digress.....the fact that I have a rather large room (living room, full kitchen, my own bathroom, and a bedroom) is a huge step up from my stateroom on the ship. When I landed in Iwakuni, I was greeted by several Marine pilots (who were mostly glad we were there so they could go home!), handed a beer, went to check into my room, get a phone hooked up, a cell phone, given a bike to get around base on, and then went to the club for pizza and beer. Trust me....this has NEVER happened when I’ve landed on the carrier for the first day of deployment! Maybe this happens on British and French carriers, but not ours.

I must confess---I am a little out-of-sorts if you can believe it. I’m so used to how things work on the boat that I’m having to adjust a little bit to this deployment. It’s pretty tough, let me tell ya. I’ve been out for sushi twice already, and we went to an Indian restaurant last night that was delicious. The only tough part of this is that Alissa and Bogey are not with me. But we do get to talk on the phone regularly and, if I can ever get my Internet working well, maybe we’ll do some video-chatting.

Well, I guess I got a little sidetracked talking about life here in Iwakuni. I will write about the other two legs of my trip across the Pacific in later posts, as I’d like to get this one online since it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.

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