By lex, on August 1st, 2008
So. Yesterday afternoon the company I’m privileged to work for held a team-building exercise whose acronym I will helpfully expand for you, poor thing that you are, unaccustomed to military style abbreviations: Ground Ordnance Loading Facility. This event was held at a place y-clept “Sea ‘n Air,” on Naval Air Station North Island, California. Which demesne circumscribes the local aerodrome, like.
The Teeny-Weenies ** were here from Corpus (or P-Cola, maybe) for to orient midshipmen here in Sandy Eggo for their summer cruise to the vaulting pleasures of naval aviation. In thirty minute, stomach churning flights.
Now, although the T-34C seemed like quite enough airplane for novice aviator Lex way back in the way-back-when, there were later times, gentle reader, having familiarized myself with the richer merits of such aircraft as come equipped by their makers with turbojet engines and ejection seats (not to mention multi-mode radars, forward looking infrared pods, nine g limits and Mach 2.0 redlines) that I did the Turbo Mentor some disparagement. I do confess it.
The instructors sent hither from the training command appear to fly these aircraft like they were stolen. Pitch up departures, mil-rated runs to the operating area for some overheads * followed by swooping recoveries back to the field – vapor trails coming off the wingtips in the break (on a T-34!), gear out abeam (still at 80 degrees angle of bank), and then a heart-stopping wingover to final, skidding all the way ** to touchdown just to take the smash off the bird. Any man (or woman, for that matter) that still wants to go to flight school after having experienced such an orientation flight has the requisite courage of heart and iron determination of mind, or else is utterly lacking in imagination, or fear. Or both.
All of these will do.
And yet I found myself staring up at these upstarts enviously. The flight instructors I mean. And their sporty little turboprop machines. Whose collective existence five years or so ago I would not have deigned to recognize, so lofty was my perch, and imperial my gaze.
Thus, have I fallen, yea: Even from the floor
*08-24-2018 Referred to post “The Squirrel Cage” of 11-15-2007 which is not available in archives or Wayback Machine – Ed
** 08-24-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – (scroll down for illustration) – Ed.