Thanks to all who entered our contest. The winner by random pick was post #9 Ari. Thanks to everyone and wish Ari luck in the big drawing to be held soon for the two seats on StarMegaDo4. I was really impressed with all the entries and hopefully everyone enjoyed reading all those war stories about travel. To not make this my shortest post ever, I will relate to you, the best of my own war stories.
There we were in May 2008, sitting on Green Ramp at Ft. Bragg waiting to deploy, yet again, to Iraq. My battalion had trained hard and were going nuts just to get over there and do our jobs. Now taking MilAir (military contract aircraft) is usually really painful as they usually contract to the low bidders for charters such as World Airways and AirTran. Now, I knew from being a FF junkie that AirTran had just filed for bankrupcy and was not operating and wondered what the implications would be. I sure if was up to the bean counters, we would get a charter from Aeroflot on a biplane!
What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a United 777 decending from the clouds. I thought “that can’t possibly be for us” as I watched it taxi right in front of our little terminal. Sure enough, the AirTran collapse had forced the military to go to a real carrier to transport us. And the best news was that United had not reconfigured the aircraft at all from its normal three class service! My XO got the count of seats and we got with the other units (all separate companies) that were deploying and I divided the seats between the ranks and units. We got everyone into first and business and even those stuck in economy had an empty seat in the middle.
The UA crew were great. They were having a great time since this was not thier normal trip. and I found out later, they had all volunteered for this flight. The crew was taking pictures of us and were laughing hard at the fact that our M-4s (carbine version of the M-16) couldn’t fit in the overhead compartments, and legally couldn’t go beneath our feet, so were lined up in the aisle. We all rolled our eyes when the military guys made us take out our bolts and put them in our pockets as a counter-terrorism measure. As if someone couldn’t reinsert that in five seconds. Happy to be on our way we departed for Germany.
We landed and spent about four hours at some old airbase in Germany that had been converted over into a hub for Ryan Air and a couple of other carriers. The troops got a kick out of being able to light up in the terminal. I was not amused and made me glad that the U.S. prohibited that nastiness in our planes and terminals. The trip got even better for me on the next leg. I slept in first and awoke halfway through our flight to Kuwait. I noticed that the cockpit door was open which never happens in my experience. I got up to see what was going on and see if I could glimpse out the cockpit window. The copilot spotted me and asked if I wanted to come on in. Of course I said sure and he invited me to sit in the jumpseat. “Regulation-oriented” as any commander is, I asked if this was allowed? They said sure, they did not need to follow the FAA regulations about the cockpit since they were under military charter. We chatted for a long time and I pointed out various cities as we passed over Iraq. Ironically, we passed over Iraq to land in Kuwait and get a C-17 back to Baghdad.
A truly unforgettable war story and my first time ever in international first class!