Tuesday, October 31, 2006

High marks for 6 day personel extraction mission.

Aparently the cosmos come together and bestowed increadable weekends on everyone!

So two entries ago I envied a guy who was making his way by himself all the way to LA from the border of Canada and Montana. I think I am just about cured for a wile after my own cross country endevours.

I assigned myself a Personel Extraction mission. The intent of this mission was to go to Detroit by the fastest and most flexable means available. Find and assertain the health and well-being of objective personel and extricate them to Montana. If the situation dictates that this is not possible, facilitat their self-extraction as much as possible. As always, engage any targets of opportunity along your route of flight... and be back by tuesday.

Mission Sucsess Rate: Undetermined as of yet. Some objectives achieved, some failed, some still waiting for the new Sat photos. Mission has moved into the self-extraction phase.

I know it is a little cliche, but I am going to use the 0-10 scale for rating the many random events of the last six days.

Droping in on your parents in the middle of the week unexpected: 9

Your parents not getting home till 11:30 because they don't know you are there: 7
(I was happy to see that they don't always go to bed at 8:15 every night.)

Quasi low level ingress to the detroit area in questionable weather: 8.5
(the 8.5 is based on excitment not on ease or fun)

Detroit's weather in general: 1

Greek guys with connections: 9.5

A keg with good beer in it (Blue Moon): 8.5

Talking to girls who are not so gunshy from being hit on all the time so that they can still be nice to talk to: 9

Boobie owners playing with other boobie owners boobies: 9
(on the dance floor)

Greenfield Village and Henery Ford Meuseam: 10

Tom Hanks movie "The Terminal": 10.2

Detroit Radio stations: 9

50 knot headwind from Chicago on: 2

South Dakota Weather: 0.5

De-iceing a plane by yourself with a paper towel: 1

Dead Batteries because of South Dakota Weather: 1

Figureing out how to "Hand Prop" a modern airplane: 10
(this is what you see in the movies where a guy stands in front of an airplane and one guy yells "Contact!" and the other guy zings the propeller around. When the engine starts he hopefully jumps out of the way of the next blade of the propeller.)

Having a farmer with no fingers hold the "contact" switch while I zinged the prop around: 8
(Though quite ominous, it worked and I have all my digits... Don't worry, I was thinking about safty, I had tied the plane to the ground when I thought I was going to have to do it by myself... though I should have told him how to pull the trottle back to idle after the start. The farmer just jumped away from the plane. It was a good reaction on his part... glad I tied the thing to the ground though!)

Overall, excellent ways to spend 6 days.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Detroit or Bust!

I have told a few people about my plans for the next five days... There have been a variety of reactions:

First and my favorite... Obviously from a few girls I have told;
"Awe! That is the most romantic thing I have ever heard of in real life... I wish some guy would do that for me!"

Most dudes at work;
"Well, good luck dude... What is the weather forecast?... you going IFR or VFR?"

The fire team guys;
"Rock on Captain! Maybe you should arm-up, never know. If you make it back to Montana and it turns out you have pissed someone off, call us if you need back up."

"You get points even if it completely fails!"

"Well... hmm... I'll have beer here for you."

Note: Some of these may be paraphrases, and not quite actual quotes... but this is my story!

Friday, October 20, 2006

An Aventurer

So today I was up in Cut Bank, Montana. In WW2 there was a B-17 fuel stop there for the aircraft that we gave to the Russians in the lend lease program. All that is left of the old base is a WW2 hanger, the control tower, and a small shack that used to be the operations building. There is also a fuel pump and a hairy guy that sells fuel... The hairy guy magically appears to sell us gas, but otherwise disappears into thin air. That is all. Other than that the airfield is slowly being reclaimed by the prairie. My crew and I were sitting in the shack, eating our lunch, discussing lofty subjects like girls and video games, and pretty much waiting for the phone call that would make us heroes. Instead of the phone ringing, the door blew wide open and in stepped a 18ish looking Asian kid. I got up and helped him close the door. (there was an approximately 39 knot wind blowing it open at the time.) He immediately asked me if this was the airport. I told him that it was, and asked what he needed. His most strange answer was "a plane ticket to LA."

Now comes the part where we find out that he is an adventurer in the middle of his adventure.

I told him that he probably wouldn't be able to get a ticket to LA, but that I thought a cargo plane lands here a couple times a week... that is about it. I didn't even know where that plane came from... it isn't marked in any standard way and doesn't stay long. I could tell that this didn't check out in his mind at all... so he asked again where the airport was. I just pointed out to the windblown cracked overgrown grassy tarmac that he had come over to get to our shack.

Still confused...

We talked to him for awhile and were able to ascertain that he was from Southern California, and that he and his cousin had driven up from LA to go work in Calgary. At the border his work visa had been declined, but his cousin's hadn't. He told his cousin to just keep going and he would make his way back to LA. This was proving more difficult to accomplish than I believe he expected. It turns out that he had just walked 20 miles back to Cut Bank from the Canadian border. (It was snow showers with 40 knot winds today.) He had assumed that he would just go to the airport and get a ticket home. Needless to say, there are not regluarly scheduled flights in Cut Bank... Hell! there are hardly even regularly scheduled runways in Cut Bank!

We recommended that he go into town (about 4-5 miles away) and find the train station. We were all pretty sure that Amtrak goes through Cut Bank... pretty sure...

Without even a disappointed look he turned around, opened the door, and with a whoosh of wind and sleet he was back out onto the prairie headed for town.

I honestly don't think that as a visitor he cold have been much more out of place if he had blown in and told us he needed dilithium crystals for his spaceship. An Asian kid from Rodondo, California in a shack on the prarie trying to buy a plane ticket to LA?!?!?!

After getting the door closed I thought about what he has ahead of him. I almost envy him. He is in the middle of a crazy random trip across the country with almost everything ahead of him completely undetermined and anything that happens to him almost completely unexpected.

The guys on my fire team figured he must be a drug dealer or something and have a lot of cash on him if he had planned to buy a plane ticket to LA from Cut Bank, Montana... they wanted the chance to roll him and liberate all his dead presidents. I guess that is another reaction!

El Torro's LZ, Explosive potatoes, Hotties with guns!

I am back from Camp Guernsey, Wy. Though I thought that we where going to get to fire the Mark 19, we didn't for several reasons... but I did get to fire the 203 Grenade launcher. The best way that I can describe what it is like is to say that it is a potato cannon... with high explosive potatoes! When you fire it, it makes that potato "POOP!" sound, then you can actually watch your round all the way to the target... then there is a very gratifying Kaboom! when your potato sized slug impacts in a small white sphere and shockwave. It is very intuitive to use and I was able to send my first round through a truck window at 200 yards. It may have been luck... but I don't think so.

I also learned that I should pay more attention to livestock in and around my LZ's. There was a valley we where going up looking to insert our "sniper" types... all of a sudden I spotted a beautiful LZ right out the right door. It was fairly open with almost no obstacles, into the wind, and oriented out the descending terrain. Perfect except that there was some livestock... cows or horses or something nearby. Not my problem, they will move! I flipped a "U"ee and put her in there. My guys jumped out and I pulled pitch and flew out the valley. The flight engineer called out on the intercom that one of the cows was looking at us the whole time. I naturally assumed that the cow was very impressed by my heavy weight, 180 turning approach into that great LZ; maybe he wanted an autograph! As I found out later, that was not a cow, it was infact a Bull! I had accidentally dropped my team off in a literal bull pen! There was a Benny Hill style chase between my guys and the bull. They eventually got out of the pen, but gave me a lot of shit about it at the end of the day. I gave them some beer.

Hotties with guns. During the exercise, I was shot down several times. (Simulated) I was in a bar after the end of the exercise and I ended up meeting one of my adversaries who shot me down. It was a very cute little 21 year old blond! We talked for a wile and I tried to figure out how we could have done things better to prevent that sort of thing...(my shoot down) Eventually I told her that it more than a little turned me on that she had shot down my helicopter. She laughed and took that as a huge complement and made me say it again louder so that her friends could hear! I then leaned close to her ear and told her that in real life I would have survived the crash unscathed, secured my wounded, then found the biggest gun I could and hunted her down! After initially looking quite shocked; she smiled, laughed, and leaned close to my ear and told me that her only job that iteration had been to kill the helicopters, so that by the time I would have gotten my seatbelt unstraped, I would have had a bullet from her gun in my head! So I gave her a beer! (It is like flirting!)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Out of the Office

The next two weeks I will be away from the huge metropolis of Great Falls and will instead be living with the army at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming. Word on the street is that we will get to fire all the weapongs that our fire team carries, to include this bad boy!!! It is for knowledge broadening. The theory being that how do I know how to best employ my "assets" if I don't have some first hand knowledge of what they use. Hopfully there will be plenty of pictures... that I can show you.