Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fly Girls

Whew! Saturday was a busy day! Derek had drill this weekend (that included Friday night, Saturday and Sunday), which always makes things a bit more busy for me. This was one drill I could not wait for. Since Derek has been a pilot, I have only seen Derek fly from the ground. I have sat in the helicopter with him, but I have never had the privilege to actually go up in one. That all changed this weekend. This is the first time they have allowed the spouses to go on an "Orientation Flight."

I could not have been more excited. Not only was I going to be spending the morning with some hunky men in uniform (I mean, lucky me), I was actually going up in a Blackhawk UH-60. They would not actually allow the pilot to be your spouse (I guess in case of an accident), so since I know most of the pilots and Derek trains them anyway, it was the next best thing. I knew I was in the best of hands.

We got to sit in a briefing and then we were off for our flight. Derek somehow arranged for me to have a really good seat. I sat at a door by myself with no windows. Yikes! I'm also known for getting motion sickness but they assured us the Crew Chief would have little baggies if we needed them. :)

It was SO fun! We got to see beautiful Arkansas from the air. We got to see lots of familiar places like the Arkansas River, our very fancy new baseball park, the Alltel arena, and mountains all from a aerial view. It was GREAT!

After all the sight seeing, the pilots took us back to the places they train doing maneuvers (I call them "tricks"). They hovered and turned circles and did sharp turns. I have to admit I thought about the baggie around this time. My favorite "tricks" were when the aircraft was sideways and they could fly it forward and backward even from the side. I also thought it was very wild when they gained speed and suddenly stopped like a car (in the air). I had no idea the Blackhawk could do that! It was very, very cool.

I have always been so proud of my husband and proud of his hard work and dedication to our country and the National Guard. Every time I watch him in an air show or just flying over our house on a routine mission, my heart swoons (and my eyes tear up, too). However, something about being inside the aircraft and seeing what they do and seeing what they see made me "get it." I totally understand now why he loves it so much.

I loved seeing Arkansas from the air. We really live in a beautiful state. We saw tons and tons of trees, lakes, ponds, mountains, and the river. There is no surprise why we are known as the "Natural State." It really is breathtaking in areas. Even as I enjoyed my flight, at one point, I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be in a combat zone flying low and fast trying to avoid being shot down. It made me sad a bit. There is no way I could possibly understand what Derek and his fellow soldiers felt or saw during those missions. I am so thankful and so proud.

Here are a few pictures from the day (warning: there are several)...

Derek and me in his office before the flight.

The wives going on the first flight.

The two Blackhawks ready for us.

The Crew Chief. He is in charge of securing passengers and cargo and providing maintenance. He also slipped us a note that read, "This is the best smellin' flight I have ever been on." I guess most crew members and pilots don't wear perfume and delicious smelling lotions! Ha!

Derek got me all strapped in my seat (which I loved). I was ready!

I was right behind the cockpit!

My hunky husband seeing me off.

The girls I flew with.
Tonya, if you happened to read this, I just wanted to tell you I thought about you the entire flight and was wishing so badly you were experiencing it with me!

A popular mountain that people hike. I could actually see people at the top.

A popular lake in Arkansas.

During one point of the "tricks," we were flying right above the treetops.

I can honestly say this was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I am so thankful I had the opportunity (finally), and I'm so glad I made it without the baggie!


Betsy said...

That is SOOOOO cool!! You go, girl!! I think I would have been so sick, though!

What a fun day. You SHOULD be proud of Derek!

Becky said...

WOW!!! What fun!! I love it that Derek helped arrange for you to have the best seat in the house ( I mean Helicopter)! HA! The aerial views are beautiful and your right Arkansas is a wonderful state and I am so proud to call it home. Two things: I noticed you didn't name the mountain or the lake and also you blacked out the name of the base. Was this a top secret mission! HA!! One more thing: GIRL how tall are you! HA!! Looks like you had a GREAT time!

Kelly said...

SOOOOOOO neat Leigh Ann!!! Although just looking at that makes me sick. After our horrible helicopter ride in Hawaii - I can't even look at one without getting sick. And I'm terrified of planes. But we do live in a pretty state and you and Derek are too cute for words!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing ever! My husband would LOVE to be able to do this(I think I'm too chicken,lol!). I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time and Arkansas just looks so beautiful! By the way, you are so pretty! You and your husband sure make such a cute couple! No wonder why your children are so adorable :-)

Candy said...

HOW EXCITING!!! Wow, I'm so glad you got to do this!!! :) You are very right, Arkansas is a beautiful state! Girl, you are tall! At first I thought you were standing on something! You and Derek are just precious together!
P.S. I wish we lived closer too because I know that E and EG would be great friends! It sounds like they are just alike! :)

Becky said...

Leigh Ann, your email didn't come through. try

Jacquie said...

What an awesome opportunity!! I don't know if I could be brave enough to do it... I'm so scared of flying.

I am so thankful for brave men (and women) like your husband and for what they do for our country!!!!

Laura said...

How neat is that?!? I think it's interesting that your man flies helicopters! I don't know anybody else that does that. My man drives a brown truck!

That's a great pic of you and Derek, by the way! I'm still lovin' the hair do!

His Doorkeeper said...

Wow! Hard to top that ride!! How neat for you wives to get to go up and experience a little of what your hubbys do all the time!

You are Derek are such a cute couple! Glad you got a bird's eye view of the Natural State!

What a fun time! And your pictures were great!

Megan L Hutchings said...

THIS IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL! I think I would have reached for the baggie, but I am so proud of you for sticking it out ;)!

That picture of you & Derek is GREAT! I can't imagine how PROUD you are of him!

Heather said...

This is AWESOME! Arkansas IS beautiful! Your husband is wonderful and I admire and respect him so much for his service to our country! How blessed we all are!

Kara said...

How fun! One day Derek is going to have to take the kids for a ride. My husband would have loved to fly in a "Black Hawk". Did you get nauseous at all? I took flying lessons when I was 16 and 17 and never got sick. Now I can ride on a 737 and get nauseous. Whats up with that?
I love all of the scenery, Arkansas is so pretty. Have a blessed week!
Love ya lots,
Kara - Rom 8:6

Meagan said...

Okay that is the COOLEST FREAKIN' THING EVER!!!! Seriously? You DO have a hunky husband who ROCKS!!! I love the picture of the two of you - what a great couple you two make! I love it! That is an awesome experience... I am proud of you for not using a baggie and I am proud and greatful to him for what he does! Can't wait to see you both in a month!!!!

LOVE YOU A GOOGLE... said...

How cool is that! That is so awesome. You should be proud of Derek and all his other fly guys! :) You make a pretty cool fly girl! Loved the pics!

ShortOne said...

OH, I love it - I am so happy I found you and you shared this w/me! You know Evan was always one of my very favorites (shhh - I know I wasn't supposed to have favs, but I couldn't help it!), and so was your whole family!

I'm looking forward to keeping up w/you. I have a blog too, just click my pic & it will take you to me.

Heather said...

That is so awesome! You look adorable in that helicopter. What a neat experience!

Julie said...

HOW AMAZING!!!!! Bryan has rode in a Blackhawk when he was in the OK National Guard and I think he has a model in his office at work. What a neat experience for you!!

Lauren said...

This is SO NEAT!!!!!!!!! How hunky is your husband?? I need a fan!

I had the soundtrack to Top Gun playing in my head the whole time I read this. What an exciting, unique experience!

By the way, not be dissing on the other wives, but you are the most beautiful in that group. Just sayin'.

Lauren said...

P.S. - I SO would've used my baggie. And the person's baggie next to me. And a helmet or four.

The Garners said...

That is SOOOOO awesome that you got to do this!!! Wow--what a day!