Monday, May 17, 2010


Remember the teaser?

I didn't forget.  An air-show was a good guess, but this was even better.  More like a private air-show for a small group of field-tripping homeschoolers.

If the acronym in the title didn't get you thinking military, maybe this will help.

(Are you humming the music from Top Gun?)

We got up bright and early last Thursday and drove out to Oak Harbor to spend six hours touring NASWI - Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

What a thrill for the boys!  We were amazed at how much they packed into our day, and how much they let us see, touch, and photograph.  Not only that, but these guys (men and women) really love what they do.  Adrenaline junkies, for certain.

We started with the Search and Rescue crews.

Whidbey has two of these Nighthawk helicopters that serve the entire PNW, as well as the military.  The guys let the kids try out the gear, rappel out the door of the helo, and look at the cockpit.

We also toured their survival school.  They showed us how pilots are trained to escape from planes that crash in the water, how an ejection seat works, hilarious videos of pilots learning to withstand G-forces (the only one that didn't pass out was a woman!), and check out the simulator.

We got to go down to the hangars to see several of the airplanes.  We have a family friend who flies the P3-Orion, so we were really interested to get inside the two you see in this photo.  (No photos from inside.)

We got a good look at the "old" EA-6B Prowlers, which are being replaced by...

... these sleek looking EA-18G Growlers.  Okay, I am not military, so if I am mixing up my nicknames or alphabets, let me know so I can fix it, yah?  The boys were all over it, while I nodded and said, "Cool!"

We saw inside the radar room, the Meteorology and Oceanography Office, and probably more I'm forgetting just now.  But the thrill of the day was this.

They let us up into the control tower.  I couldn't believe it.  And they were launching all kind of stuff.  It was a perfect day for training - just look at the weather :D

And they even let the kids out on the catwalk.  156 feet up off the deck.  Very, very cool.

This has to be one of the best field trips we've ever done.  These folks love what they do and related wonderfully to the kids.  Answered every question.  Wore Tate's FM system without complaint, so he could hear everything, well, as much as the rest of us, with those jets screaming overhead all day.  And the boys just loved it.  Too bad my most military-minded kid will never be accepted.  Darn hearing loss.


Doug Hibbard said...

A quick note for Tate: I grew a military kid, and always wanted to follow Dad's footsteps. He was an Air Force Navigator on a C-130. I wanted to fly something. Then came the ministry call, and I thought, ok, Chaplain!

Then came the asthma, the inhalers, and the permanent disqualification. It still hurts. But in some way, God will put that passion to good use.

Now, about letters/numbers:
P-3--the "P" shows for Maritime patrol. In WWII, P was used for "pursuit" but now it's just for Aircraft that patrol oceans. P-3 aircraft are capable of hunting submarines and ships. Also useful for Search/Rescue because of the equipment. Design is very similar to Dad's C-130, except with the wing under the body, and that cool extended tail. The "P-3C" means it can be used to haul cargo.

EA-6B Prowler: The "A" is for ground attack, and the "E" shows it's modified to also be heavy in Electronics, used for radar both air and ground. Also can mean that it's capable of creating electronic problems for enemies or electronic espionage, depending on what's inside it. The "B" means it's a further improvement on either an "A" or a model with no letter.

Same thing with EA-18G. Originally, there's an F-18, a fighter jet, that could also be an F/A-18, for fighter or ground attack. It's been developed to do lots of things.

Now, who did you contact at NAWSI to set this up? I'd like to touch base with a similar person at LRAFB for the same purpose!


Sorry for the long comment--I think I'm right on the designations, thought you'd like to know. Other people that know, am I right? Or did I miss one or three?

Q said...

What a fabulously cool field trip! Hmm . . . Tate will have to be a civilian consultant with the military. That has it's perks too!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Doug, that's great! Thanks for the info! Makes good sense for what they do at Whidbey. Those are not "fighter" planes. The P3 Orions are for sub-hunters, and the EA-6Bs and the EA-18Gs are electronic jammers. They're the same style/body as the fighter jets (if I remember correctly what they told us), but these aren't used for fighting. But they could be...

I didn't set up the field trip, but our contact person was actually a Defense Department contractor. Sort of a PR liaison.

And, Q, I did think of the civilian consultant/contractor :D

melanie said...

So very super cool. I wanna go there!

(and just how eloquent was that?!)

Anonymous said...

I AM SOOOOOOOOOOO JEALOUS!!!! 6 HRS on a military base, touring around, and HEARING JETS!!!! WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!
Can I go with you next time??!!!!

Felicity said...

WOW! What my boys wouldn't do to go on a field trip there!! Hmmm - kinda far, don't you think? ;-)

Tina Marie said...

Not that I'm trying to talk you into to coming to Germany, but if you ever do, we'll get one of our pilot buddies to take the boys up!!

leah said...

What an awesome field trip! Military guys are so great with kids. We have a small local air show, and there is a C-130 present most of the time. The local Air Force guys go out of their way to show my boys the controls and other things on the plane we might not have noticed. They're really awesome!

tammy said...

Oh this even makes me excited I can only imagine how excited your boys were! What a great memory that will last a lifetime!

The dB family said...

Bub would rank this as THE BEST CLASS TRIP EVER! What an awesome day!


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic outing!!!! We still love to go to the base and hear the jets and when we can watch them take off (well, me more than PB). God was good to give us that special time in the AirFprce! BUT happy to be in the ministry and serving HIM here! lv to u

Choate Family said...

Airplanes are so infrequent here that all of the village kids hoot and holler any time one flies over (included our two-year-old). Sounds like you guys had a blast!

Ann said...

Steven went nuts when he saw me reading this post! He liked the planes, but his eyes were HUGE when he saw the helicopter. What an awesome field trip!