By lex, on August 19th, 2011
Woke up early, nervous, fretful. The unmistakable smell of summat burning. Worried about it being my electronic equipment (cell, iPad), the room, the motel, breakfast – a thoroughly regrettable breakfast about which you have already heard * and to which discussion you have laudably added.
A short drive through eerie wood smoke, there early, welcomed warmly, ushered within. Discovered to my dismay that it was the Dismal Swamp that was on fire. Learned that fire crews were – inexplicably – dumping water into the Dismal Swamp. Forced to alter my perceptions about exactly what it was that qualified a coastal lowland to be a “swamp” if it wasn’t the presence of, you know: Water.
Saw a familiar face in the passageway, although it took me a moment to register. Being out of place, and all. Quite unexpected. The first time I had seen that face having been ages ago, when I was a fleet lieutenant and he was negotiating my orders to Key West, Florida, for to fly the F-16N, et al.
Hi Lex, said he, and the name came rushing back: Hi CAG. For hizzoner had done hisself right good in the Navy, and now was apparently in Tidewater, doing right well. I knew you were coming, said he, how I asked, because of your blog, what blog is that, how was your breakfast.
Ecce: My tattered veil of anonymity, tattered, torn, bereft.
So it goes.
Cuppla hours of HR stuff; how to schedule availability, location of the shared folders, how to get paid, what to expect. Then water survival training: Don’t drown, don’t freeze, don’t get eaten. Physiology, too: Wear your mask. Don’t scuba dive and fly. Aircraft safety: Don’t run out of gas, don’t crash, don’t hurt the crew chief. No smoking 8 hours before the flight or drinking within 25 feet of the aircraft. I had a time when… and then… again.
That sort of thing.
Fire hose complete for day one, we were left to our own devices, or would have been, had it not been for the presence of an instructor pilot of Canadian provenance, now living in Hong Kong, come hither for to teach another of my cohort how to fly the Hawker Hunter.** We’re going to Hooters, quotha, and thou art required and desired to join us. I think you’re looking for someone else, I’m going to the fly the Kfir, never mind, all are welcome. All must come. But what about PT, what’s that, I’ll see you after.
You may be as surprised as was your humble scribe to learn that Hooters is an establishment that serves chilled adult beverages made from hops and barley, alongside chicken extremities slathered with sauces of various thermal intensity, all served by impossibly young females wearing tennis shoes, curtailed orange pantaloons and low cut, sleeveless blouses. Who, having served the aforementioned comestibles to super-annuated fighter pilots sturdily resistant to going into that good night of cube farms and PowerPoint, would join you at your elevated wooden table and stare at you with the placid and disconcerting fixity of a cat evaluating a mouse.
It is something of a local institution, I gather. It having been some time since I have tarried in the Tidewater (Protip: TAHD-woodr).
Back to my chambers for to study man-machine interfaces, electronics and hydraulics. Fuel systems.
First impression: It’s no Hornet.
Suggested topic: Having seen the early goings, Paul Ryan is the only plausible GOP candidate to compete for national leadership with President Obama in 2012.
*11-01-2018 – Link added – Ed.
** 11-01-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.