We have the ability today to stay in contact immediately with anyone around the globe. Facebook is a case in point. As I was thinking of a topic for tonight’s blog, I stopped in on Facebook to check in and see what my friends were doing.
One friend was working on his book, another was trying to get home from Oklahoma City, one of my former students was trying to make the drive from Pennsylvania to California, and one of my friends was evidently departing on a cruise. Her comment, “We’re going to the ship! We’re going to the ship!”
A little more than 20 years ago, that phrase also excited me. However, I was going to a different ship and I was “getting aboard” in a very different manner. Nah, I was not going to walk the gangway to board my cruise ship; I would be making a “ball call” and a landing signal officer (LSO) would respond in the time honored tradition of, “Roger ball!”
Then I would slam onto the deck at about 133 knots. Or, for those who prefer miles per hour, 153 mph.
What an exciting time! During the day, flying around the boat in good weather was great fun. In fact, it was so much fun it should have been illegal. I am sure I would have paid as much as required to have all the fun. Of course, we did have to pay quite a hefty fee for all the daytime fun; the nighttime operations were pretty hairy indeed.
The job became even more interesting when the deck was pitching and rolling. When it was really pitching and rolling, that was when the LSOs truly earned their money. They were responsible for keeping the rest of us in the Air Wing out of trouble on the blunt end of the boat.
There was another set of aviators and sailors who were also good at keeping tactical jet aviators out of trouble. They were the helicopter pilots and rescue swimmers. Every time I had a chance to do something good for the helo pilots and their crews, I always took the opportunity. They were one bunch of gentlemen I wanted to be sure knew me by name and face. If ever I had to jump out of my Corsair at sea, I wanted to know they would work extra hard because they knew I was the guy who bought them beer at the last port of call.
As I sit here tonight, I wonder what ports of call my friend, Ashley, is destined to visit. I do know there will be vast differences between her cruise boat and mine. The boat I cruised on was very large; in fact, very few ships are larger than a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. We also did not have alcoholic beverages with umbrellas in them. There were also no slot machines on any of the decks of the carrier.
The nicest thing about Ashley’s boat, however, is the fact her boat will not have airplanes landing on the roof at all hours of the night and day.
© 2011 J. Clark