MilSpouse (First) Friday Fill-In #70

It’s here, it’s here! We’ve reached the first Friday in April, which I think is at least as worthy of celebration as that “foolish” day that had us giggling at Internet antics at the beginning of the month. Once we hit sundown, though, we run headlong into Shabbat and the first night of Passover. Chag Pesach Sameach to all who are celebrating, and I hope you have a wonderful seder! May you find delicious and creative ways to enjoy your eight days’ worth of matzoh. 😉

What’s one thing in the past month you would have changed?

I would have refrained from eating the entire batch of kettle corn I made whilst waiting for Sampson to return home from some bit of late-night pre-deployment business to which he had to attend. I suspect I added too much sugar for the amount of popcorn I used, so it turned out addictively tasty and far too rich for an evening snack. Alas, my overfull tummy forced me to forgo the whisky Sampson and I had planned to enjoy when he got back from the squadron.

What was your favorite thing that happened in March?

I got to go flying for the first time with my new headset. Not only was it lighter and comfier than the David Clark loaners I’d been borrowing, I didn’t have to wonder about who else had gotten up close and personal with the microphone windscreen before me. The cockpit is a noisy environment, you see, and you need to have the microphone pretty much touching your lips in order to be heard on the radio. As much as I love my fellow Civil Air Patrol volunteers, that esteem does not extend to wishing to make out with their previously used microphones.

Check your phone… who was the last person you called and what is your favorite thing about them?

‘Twas my in-laws, to discuss Passover plans. They’re wonderful folks who have always made me feel like a welcome addition to the family.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why?

A green dragon basking in the sun

I drew this green Pernese dragon basking in the sun when I was in high school.

I still remember when Crayola released new crayon colors in 1990. My favorite among the new additions to my crayon box was Jungle Green. The color was perfect for both rich foliage and for the dragons that figured so vividly in my imagination throughout my childhood. I may not take to the sky on gossamer-thin dragon wings, but I feel the same excitement whenever I climb into a small airplane.

What are you looking forward to in April?

This first part of the month is full of family and celebrations. I’m excited to see all kinds of people, but it will be particularly special to meet two new family members this weekend — my cousin and his wife just welcomed a set of twins last week, so I look forward to saying hello to my newest first cousins, once removed.

Are you a military spouse/fiancée/fiancé/girlfriend/boyfriend? Hie thee to LTJG Wifey’s blog, snag the questions, and add yourself to the Mr. Linky for this month’s MilSpouse (First) Friday Fill-In!


If EMALS Can Handle the COD…

…the experimental EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) might be on its way to handling anything. Maybe.

I must admit, I’m sharing this video mostly to show some C-2A Greyhound love, but it’s pretty neat how quiet EMALS is. Steam catapults will no doubt be around for some time yet, though.

Guest Post: Welcome to Cruise

Military spouses occupy a curious corner of the greater military blogging constellation. I could sit here all day and tell you all about what it’s like to be married to a nasal radiator naval aviator. I could give a first-hand account of deployment from the homefront perspective. I could tell you all about my husband’s aircraft, its mission, and even rattle off immediate action items from the emergency procedures checklists. We spouses tend to absorb quite a bit of information through osmosis.

What I cannot tell you, however, is what it feels like to fly the beast, to land it on a pitching deck, and to spend months bouncing from foreign base to foreign base in order to stay within reach of the aircraft carrier relying on its CODs for cargo, mail, and transport of important personnel. For that, you need to ask my husband. He has graciously offered to share a vignette that captures a moment those of us who wait at home do not get to see: the instant that deployment truly begins.

“Last Minute” by Sampson

Aircraft carriers leave little margin for error. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released)

Somewhere in the back of your airplane, Petty Officer Jones is saying his Hail Marys. It’s a strange thing for a man that scared of flying and ships to be in a COD squadron. Yet, here he is, and here you are, flying from the left seat in one of two mighty C-2A Greyhounds. In addition to forty- something enlisted aircraft maintainers, they are stuffed to the gills with everything your COD detachment will need for the next six months supporting a carrier air wing.

Well, okay, the birds don’t have everything you’ll need. Five people are waiting to catch a ride on a C-130 across the pond to start setting up the first Forward Logistics Site. The good news is that’s five fewer days stuck on a boat. The bad news is none of them are about to bag a trap.

LSOs guide aircraft in for safe landings. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brent Thacker/Released)

The boat is still close offshore. She is steaming conspicuously westerly, into the rapidly setting sun. In half an hour, you’ll make like Cinderella’s carriage and turn into a pumpkin. But, good news! The deck is expecting you. Your signal is “buster”, which is boat-speak for keep your foot on the floor, and expect “Charlie on arrival”, which means you should recover immediately.

You follow behind your detachment’s other aircraft. As you set up for your entry into the pattern, you can’t help but notice the sun sitting just above and to the left of the ship’s landing area. This could get interesting. Sure enough, rolling into the groove, the ball is barely visible – and it is low. Power on, you’re afraid to actually scan angle of attack and lineup lest you lose glideslope reference. The niggling detail that this ship has had the third of four wires normally on the flight deck stripped enters unwelcome into your brain.

Arrested Landing

A C-2A Greyhound makes an arrested landing. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rosa A. Arzola/Released)

When you take an arrested landing, one of two things happen: you stop fairly quickly or the LSOs call out “Bolter, bolter bolter” almost immediately. Not today. WHUMP, you are on deck, one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, and at last, there’s that blessed deceleration. In a couple of hours, the LSO will explain that your hook skipped over the second wire but snagged number four, hence the three eternities on the landing rollout.

But right now none of that matters. You taxi the bird out of the landing area, fold the wings, and shut her down for the ride across the Atlantic. The aircraft commander turns to you and shakes your hand.

“Nice trap. Welcome to cruise.”

The ship is pointed conspicuously eastward…

I [heart] Air Shows

Air Show Heart

Aw, and it looks like they ♥ me back!

Real post soon. Life has had a distinct flavor of crazy lately, and I haven’t felt adequate to the task of writing about it. Shortly, though, I hope to have both a SpouseBUZZ post and an entry here to catch up with you all. I’d better get it done lest this relatively relaxed period prove to be a mere lull in the insanity.

Flying, Not Enough Flying, and Not Being a Teenager

How on earth did it get to be mid-August?  The wall-to-wall flight and duty schedule my husband’s been on might have something to do with it.  At least he’s not hurting for flight hours this month.  We would, no doubt, both be a little more sanguine about the whole thing if fewer of those hours ate up our weekends, but such is life when there are aircraft carriers at sea who demand their COD hits with the clamorous fervor of a infant seeking a pacifier.  “Want it now!  Want it RIGHT NOW!”

My current level of flight time leaves much to be desired, although attempts were made to rectify my sad ground-bound state last week.  Alas, Mother Nature foiled my first bid for a Mission Observer proficiency hop with a grumbling sky and a worrisome number of lightning strikes in the vicinity.  The weather at the airport was such that we probably could have taken off safely, but returning at the end of our flight would have been iffy.  Our Mission Pilot decided that he didn’t fancy explaining to our superiors precisely why we thought it was a good idea to take off only to divert for weather and get ourselves stranded at another airport, so we stayed firmly planted on the ground.

No problem, we just rescheduled for a couple days hence… only to be stymied by another group signing the plane out from under us.  Here’s hoping for better luck this week.  I would dearly love to take advantage of the funding CAP always seems to have available for flying as the end of the fiscal year draws closer, especially consider how long it has been since I stretched my MO muscles.  Those skills are perishable; I hope I haven’t completely forgotten my G1000 tricks.

I have not made much progress in transitioning from the right seat to the left (translation: I have not yet begun working towards my private pilot certificate).  A while back, though, my husband and I visited a few local flight schools to get a feel for the various operations and instructors.  At one of the schools, we were chatting with an older gentleman about the process, how many hours would be needed, the rates for aircraft rental and instruction, and so on and so forth.  When he reached the part of the spiel about solo flight, though, he looked at me kind of funny.

“You know, you have to be at least sixteen years old to solo.”

I was a little taken aback — after all, I was there with my husband, wedding rings clearly visible.  Boy, I thought, this guy must think my husband is one hell of a cradle robber! I assured the gentleman that I was, in fact, a full decade safely past that particular minimum.

I’ve often been told I look young for my age, but to have someone wonder if maybe — just maybe — I might be fifteen? Everyone says I’ll appreciate it later, but I’m not quite convinced that I have reached the point at which it is flattering to have one’s age underestimated by ten or more years.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #4

What food reminds you of your spouse?

Thai food holds a special place in our hearts.  We went to A Little Place Called Siam (no longer extant, sadly, though I believe there is still a Thai restaurant in that location) for dinner on our first date before heading to our high school cafeteria for Spring Formal.  Since then, different Thai restaurants have become “ours” in just about every town in which we have spent significant time together.  We judge most places by their drunken noodles, which is what my husband orders nine times out of ten.

Who would you rather sit next to in a cross-country plane ride: an irritating non-stop talker, or a quiet stare-er?

The quiet one, definitely.  I’m usually looking out the window and cheerfully oblivious to anyone else around, an attitude much more difficult to maintain when some full-of-himself lawyer is droning on about how he had to fly to this place and that place to get statements and subpoenas and all kinds of things that were a lot more impressive to him than they were to a girl who just wanted to visit her fiancé.

What are your best tips on how to save money?

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.  This seems to be a slippery concept for some people.

What is your favorite summer memory?

My extended family’s yearly trips to the beach were a fixture in my life up through college.  All of us — parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — would rent units on the ocean and spend a week playing on the beach by day and partying by night.  Each family would take one night to cook dinner for all the rest, so we got a variety of fun dishes.  I loved getting to spend so much time with my cousins, and I cannot even estimate how many hours upon hours we spent boogie-boarding in the surf.  We barely got out of the water except to go chow down on sandwiches for lunch, our fingers still pruney and salty from the sea.  Adult beverages flowed freely for those of age; one of the perks of growing up was finally being able to partake of my grandfather’s killer Bloody Marys at about ten in the morning while digging my toes in the sand.

Time has a way of marching on, though, and “The Beeeeeeach” no longer exists as a week-long family reunion.  As we kids got older and started pairing off (and even contributing to the next generation), it became unfeasible for all of us to coordinate our schedules.  I miss it, though, and it makes me a little sad to think that any children we might be blessed to have are unlikely to have that same kind of yearly vacation.  I might go so far as to describe The Beach as the anchor of my year throughout my childhood.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve never had one walk up and introduce itself.  Maybe I smell funny.

When I was about eleven years old, though, I absolutely believed in ghosts.  A few friends and I kept a notebook and interviewed our classmates at recess about their brushes with the paranormal (including alien encounters; one friend was a confessing X-phile and quite firm in her assertions that “the truth [was] out there”).  We occasionally frightened ourselves with Ouija boards, but most of the time, it seemed that the “spirits” we called with our Parker Brothers-brokered séances had a perplexing fascination with farts and cuss words.  Go figure.

Are you a military spouse/fiancée/fiancé/girlfriend/boyfriend? Hie thee to ENS Wifey’s blog, snag the questions, and add yourself to the Mr. Linky for this week’s MilSpouse Friday Fill-In!