I don't think you can land on an aircraft carrier and not feel impressed.
This morning we got up and prepped for our day out in the middle of the Arabian Gulf. Apparently at some point between now and my sixth grade year it changed to Arabian Gulf instead of Persian Gulf. My bad.
We headed off to the airport where we met up with our COD crew. A COD is a plane that transports people and cargo to an aircraft carrier, and today was the day that we headed out to the USS Ronald Reagan. According to pretty much everyone you talk to in the navy, this is the most bad ass vessel in the world. After spending time aboard, I would have to agree.
Our flight to the ship lasted about 45 minutes and everyone on my flight was gracious enough to let me have the window seat (1 of 2) so I could film the landing. This way EVERYONE will be able to see it.
When you are on approach all you see are HUGE ripples in the water. They got tighter and tighter together. Then a destroyer going full throttle came in to view and then BAMMMMMM. We caught the line with the tail hook and we went from 150mph to 0mph in about 2 seconds.
Up came the cargo bay door and we were on an active aircraft carrier runway. INCREDIBLE. We were shuffled onto the HUGE aircraft elevator on the side of the ship and lowered into the Hangar bay where we were greated by the Captain. There were F-18's as far as the eye could see and people were hustling around everywhere.
After a delicious gourmet dinner in the officers mess (manned by folks in black tie mind you) which included shrimp cocktail and cheesecake, we headed up to the bridge and the captains quarters.
The captains quarters are modeled after the red room in the white house and is beautiful. Some of Reagan's old desks and chairs are in this room as well.
The bridge was flippin cool. we got to sit in the captains seat for a photo op which was really cool. Probably the most impressive thing was the fact that a 19 year-old was stearing the boat. CRAP. talk about responsibility. The best part was that when he was called out he was bashful. so cute and so little!!!
After our tours it was time to head out to the flight deck. OH MY WORD> We saw about 12 fighter jets take off and 2 land. AMAZING. I pretty much got video from every available angle. This was the opening from Top Gun in real life. Smoke on the deck and all. It was amazing. The crazy thing was that there were so many people there and they were all so young.
After that it was time to go back down to the Reagan museum and to take a look at some of the pilots. I chatted it up with the photographers on board who were super cool. I pretty much have been chatting it up with a lot of them at every branches display. they are so insightful.
They filled me in on the basic moral of the boat. Apparently they had had a play the night before in the bay for the ship. It was a dramatic play about life at see with props and everything. Plus they have been very busy with their Reagan Idol program. Supposedly there have been some ship celebrities emerging. I would pay to see those shows! Hilarious.
I think this segment was the one that I got the most footage and the most time to concentrate on getting some. Thank goodness. I have about 9 hours of tape so far.
Then it was time to go. Admiral Nicholas was aboard and on our way to our Helicopter (1/2 of the crew got to land half got to catapolt of) the ship had the color guard for his departure. All of the flight deck colors lined up (the different tutle neck colors) and they had the planes in a circle around the helicopters. how neat to see.
On the way back to Bahrain a member of the helicopter crew took my camera and got shots of the other chopper going beside us. that was cooler than cool.
Upon landing it was time to get back into the C-17 and head for Doha, Qatar.
Qatar is an amazing place, and Irene Farrelly you shoulda gone...It looks like southbeach and the growth in substantial. you could turn your head without seeing a building being built.
On the way from the airbase to the hotel (The FOUR SEASONS respectively) we had a police escort. I demand one in philly at all times now! It was incredible. We blast into town. But it also shed some light on our IED training a few days before in Kuwait.
We had a quick wrap up and it was off to our exquisite rooms. Dinner was on the beach below and it was a traditional beoudian meal with a loot player and many dignitaries in attendance. Late night we gather round the sofas under the tent on the beach and smoked sheesh in the hookas. Truly a night and a day to remember.