Kira Gonzalez Spends Part of Summer at Hurlburt Field
Aug. 23, 2010
Cadets at the Air Force Academy travel to destinations all over the world each summer and gain unique experiences. This summer, junior Kira Gonzalez completed Operation Air Force at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Here, Gonzalez shares some of the highlights of her experience:
I was sent on an assignment this summer to Hurlburt Field, the 1st Special Operations Wing, to learn and experience an operations Air Force base. About 15 other cadets and I were randomly chosen to be sent to Hurlburt Field, located in Destin, Fla., for roughly three weeks. We were lodged in our own condos on base with easy accessibility to the base gym, pool and dining facilities. Everything was paid for.
All the cadets were divided into groups of four or five—every day was a new experience for my group and I. We were scheduled to visit a different squadron in order to experience what day-to-day life was like working various jobs. Some of the squadrons I visited included: fuels; Security Forces; air traffic control; communications; intelligence; aircraft maintenance; force support; the medical group; CV-22 Osprey; and AC-130 Gunship.
Depending on our schedule—which sometimes varied from working with a squadron from 0900-1200 or 0900-1400—our afternoons were mostly free. The base is about 20 minutes from the nearest beach, although we liked to travel a little farther for nicer water. We were free on the weekends to go explore, but we mostly spent the day at the beach or went shopping.
The Beaches – I was able to go to a different beach almost every other day, including Pensacola Beach, Fort Walton Beach and Destin Beach. They all had white sand and blue water. If you were willing to spend the money, you could rent jet skis, pontoon boats, go parasailing…the opportunities were endless.
Panama City – A few of us decided to take a four-hour road trip to Panama City Beach. We had some beach time, got to go shopping, checked out a few tourist attractions (including the human slingshot), and scoped out the night life.
Destin Boardwalk – About 20 minutes away from base was the Destin Boardwalk, which included some of my favorite restaurants, an outdoor movie theater and souvenir shops. It was always busy and if we were bored, that’s where we ended up.
UH-1 Huey – For one of our work days, we got to ride in a helicopter. The pilots flew us about 200 feet up along the coastline from Destin to Panama City. During the entire ride, we waved at people on the beach, and we even saw sharks, stingrays, dolphins and turtles.
Simulators – On two of our work days, we were able to use the simulators and flew the CV-22 and the MC-130. Each person in my group spent about 20 minutes with the CV-22 working on fixed wing mode and helicopter mode. When we flew the MC-130, we spent almost an hour each in the pilot seat.