July 9, 2012
This summer, GoAirForceFalcons.com will keep you updated on what some of our players are doing in the off-season. The series, "Flying with the Falcons", continues with Tesia Davis' summary of her Operation Air Force experience.
This summer, I was able to get the "real" Air Force experience through the summer program, Operation Air Force. I spent three weeks at Whiteman AFB, Mo., home to the B-2 Stealth Bomber. I had many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: a T-38 ride, a UH-60 Blackhawk ride, and I saw A-10s do target practice.
The T-38 is the trainer plane for fighter pilots. Prior to my flight, I had a full day of being taught the proper way to eject from the aircraft and getting fitted for a G-Suit. When I went up, all I could think about was how scared I was and how I didn't really want to be doing this, but as I started flying, I loosened up and actually got to fly the airplane for a little bit. When I took control of the aircraft (the first time), I just sat there--not allowing myself to move the stick. The pilot took control back and then told me that I was going to get the aircraft back and when I had control I was to jam the stick to the right. Doing as I was told, I jammed the stick to the right and the next thing I know, we are doing rolls. That experience was so crazy. I couldn't believe that I was piloting the aircraft and that I was the one that was making the aircraft roll. Later in the flight, the pilot was just having fun with me, and as we did a turn, I did my controlled breathing (what you are supposed to do when you pull a high number of G's) and he started laughing at me. I should have just told him it was practice for when we were pulling six G's.
The Blackhawk is a helicopter mainly used by the Army; however the Air Force does fly a few. I was lucky enough to get a flight in one, with the doors open--the wind was whipping in our faces. If you had seen all of us, we were just staring at each other with these goofy smiles on our faces because we knew that this was a truly unique experience and at the same time, really scary. Even though we are strapped in, it was crazy to be flying around with the doors open, without there being a care in the world. The pilots decided to have some fun with us and started flying up and down, creating a zero G effect. It was like a rollercoaster, with all the up and downs, but way cooler.
One of the days, we took a three-hour road trip down to a range. The range is used for the A-10's target practice. Throughout the day, we saw multiple A-10s taking runs at the range, open firing as we were watching. Hearing the roar as the A-10s passed over and then the sound of the guns firing was just incredible. While I know that we were a safe distance away from the range, it was weird to look back and think about how we were right there watching the planes fly over and shoot up the ground.
Other than those exciting experiences, I was able to see what enlisted personnel do while working in the cafeteria and the gym. I observed an AF Physical Fitness Test and was able to see how important it was to stay in shape as an officer and also see the struggles of some of the Airmen.
Ops Air Force was an awesome experience for me. I was able to see multiple aspects of the Air Force, and I came away with some unforgettable memories.