Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Fabulous F-16 Ride!

It was so fun! It may seem really lame because it wasn't flying or anything but how many people can say they got to ride in one? I mean it is likely never to happen to me again! My pilot was Capt Keith "Cracker" Carson. He has been flying approx 9yrs & I got to talk to him before so I was confident in him.

First we started the day @8am doing EGRESS training (learning how to bail if there is a problem) No, we didn't get to practice ejecting the seats, good thing too cause it is not very fun if you have to, the canopy shoots off & then your chair shoots out all in something like 6 seconds, if you can imagine... But we did get to practice jumping out, it didn't get any pictures of it but it was fun. They hooked us up to harnesses, imagine like a full body rappelling harness, over the shoulders, under the butt cheeks. Then they hooked us to practice cockpits which are about 4ft off the ground (from the part where you would have to jump), in a real jet, it's about a 7 or 8ft drop. We got strapped in @ the shoulders & lap then had the helmet & oxygen mask on attached to the "tank". Then they give the signal (EGRESS, EGRESS, EGRESS) & by the 3rd time the pilot says it, the canopy should be open far enough to get out so while he says that you are trying to unbuckle yourself (& trust me it isn't just a button, it's a lift flap, push down with your thumb to release) & climb out of the cockpit... & the cockpit is deep & fairly narrow... So you can imagine. We were supposed to practice with gloves but since everyone in my group was smaller, we didn't have gloves that fit! The first 2 girls that tried to "jump" got stuck on their harnesses hanging. Their feet were about 6-12in off the floor & there really was no way to get back up! It was funny but @ the same time they kept reminding us to think if it was a fire or something! I didn't get stuck but I can vouch that it would not be a fun thing to have to bail out!

After we finished the EGRESS training, they took us & did a slide show of what to expect, not that you can really expect the ride but they tried... Except they didn't use terms we understood! how funny huh? All I remember is that they gave us scripts & that I would have to talk to the other wives riding!

Finally around noon, we went to life support & got fitted with our jumpsuits & helmets/masks. That was pretty funny! There were 3 groups of 4 wives, the first was student pilot wives (their hubbys were graduating that day after 28mo of training), then was the instructor pilot wives & then the maintainer wives... Well most of the pilot wives were pretty tall & very slender, the maintainers wives, well they are normal women like me, a little rounder in the mid section! Which of course is not like the pilots who are also tall & slender! So our suits were a little tight around the mid section & very long everywhere!

We then met up with our pilots & rode out to the jets, ready for the ride... Kevin was the crew chief on my jet (yes it was planned) so he got to help me into the jet (shown in the picture) & I got to see all that studying we did way back in school put to use! He fastened me into the plane & then we got our helmets on & it was time to go! Those planes are so manueverable! It took tight turns I would have never thought it could! Since my pilot was "#1" I got to say a whole bunch of stuff to the other wives in their jets, checking radios to make sure we were all on the same frequencies & to the tower or ops or something saying we were ready. We taxied to the end of the runway where they checked to make sure nothing was broke yet (actually happens more often then you might think from where Kevin works to EOR) & then we lined up on the runway. The pilots pushed the throttle keeping the brakes on until it was @ 90knots(about 100mph) & let off the brakes. While it did push me back in my seat, it wasn't forceful @ all. It was however one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life! We taxied again to the other EOR to check again for any malfunctions & then back to parking! One of the best moments was after we finished, we were down @ EOR & I had to say something like "Dog house, top dog 1(me) down with 4. Top dog 1 code 1" & then each of the girls said in sequence "top dog 2 code 1" etc but top dog 2 said code 2, top dog 3 said code 3 & then top dog 4 said code 1... I know doesn't make sense to you but to our hubbys code 2 & code 3 mean their jet is broken, code 3 being serious. Now imagine none of the pilot wives messed that up just the maintainers wives... & that would have meant that our hubbys didn't come home for a long time!Yes that is me with my helmet & oxygen mask on! Over all it was a blast & definately something to remember! Enjoy the pictures, it was so fun!


Ryan and Tara said...

Wow! That is awesome! This is Tara West by the way! I am glad you found me! My dad would be so jealous of you. Riding in a fighter jet is a dream of his! Congrats on your next little one! That is way exciting.

Heather and EJ said...

Wow how awesome is that?! Sounds like so much fun!