Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Becoming a Flyer

I started my Air Force career as an air traffic controller. They say that flying is hours of boredom spiced with moments of sheer panic. Controlling air traffic involves a lot more panic. The trick is not to let on how scared shitless you really are. When you're calmly saying over the radio, "American Airlines 165, turn left and decend immediatly to 9000 feet," your brain is screaming "HOLY SHIT, EVERYBODY DUCK!" I swear controlling is so nerve wracking that I actually heard a doctor tell a controller to start smoking again. Anyway, after six years of working traffic and wondering how anybody survives the friendly skies, I volunteered to start flying for a living. I applied for and was accepted to Air Force Undergraduate Navigator Training. I loaded up the family and headed to Sacramento California to join my class. I pulled up to the gate, showed my ID card and my orders, received a sharp salute from the sky cop on duty, and asked how to get to Nav School. He didn't even crack a smile. He just said, "Sir, you pull through this gate, make a left 180, and head back down the road you came in on about 16 miles. " I had just proven to the guard and to my family why the Air Force had such faith that I would soon be an outstanding Air Force showing up at the wrong base!