When you get up in the morning, you never know where the day is going to take you. I did something today that was a life-long dream, with absolutely no idea that it was going to happen until it did.
For a card-carrying space cadet since my father dragged me out of bed at Zero-Dark-Thirty in 1961 to wait hours for Scott Carpenter to launch, I’ve always loved anything that flew.
Here in the 21st Century, the ultimate #1 coolest thing that I would sell my soul for is a trip to orbit. Soyuz, Virgin, Dream Chaser, Boeing — none of that matters. ISS, Bigelow, someone else — totally irrelevant. I want to someday see the planet Earth in my rear-view mirror!
#2 on the list, not too far down the ūber-awsome list, would be a chance to ride with the Blue Angels (F-18) or Thunderbirds (F-16). Ground level at 400 knots to 10,000 feet in under a minute, please, with the full aerobatic program to follow, pretty please with sugar on top!
#3 in my fantasies, again just a small step down the awsomesauce scale, would be flying in a P-51, the fastest and most feared fighter of World War II. I love seeing them scream by at air shows, I love hearing their 1500 horsepower engines turning fuel into noise.
Man O’ War is a P-51 that is flown by the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. Aside from flying it at airshows and other events, we generate income by selling rides. The rides are not hellaciously expensive — but neither are they cheap. It was something high on my to-do list when I had earned a really expensive treat for myself, but it wasn’t going to happen soon.
Then about three months ago I noticed the CAF Southern California Wing needed someone to run for the Finance Officer’s staff position. I’m a CAF member, I had the experience, I had the time available, so I ran and got the job. It’s strictly a volunteer position (still have to find that paying job), but I get to work with a lot of great people, I get to help out a great organization, it gets me out of the house, it lets me keep my skills sharp, and I get to be around some awesome planes three or four days a week.
It turns out there was a chance at another perk.
Today I was doing accounting data entry and reconciling bank statements, routine stuff, learning the ropes there. One of our P-51 pilots came into the office. He needed to get in some proficiency flying time and was asking if anyone wanted to go up with him. It’s a pity to leave that seat empty…
Don’t mess with me, man! That’s not cool!
OH. MY. GOD!!
If you’re anything like me and you ever get a chance to take a ride in a P-51, TAKE IT!
When you get up in the morning, you never know where the day is going to take you. Many days are routine, a few days really suck, and occasionally the karma fairy will dump a bucket of I-don’t-believe-I-get-to-do-this all over you.
That’s why we should get out of bed with a smile every morning. Today might be the day you get to fly a P-51. Or an F-18. Or go to orbit.