HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aviator Brief V: Cross-countries, TADs & Deployments #2

Jack Proctor and Major Dawson, two pilot aficionados of happy hour at Tinker Air Force Base, took off from Beaufort, South Carolina late because of maintenance and fueling delays. Their objective: to reach Tinker Air Force Base in one leg with no refuel or they would miss the better-looking ladies. In Oklahoma, after all, good-looking O-club babes were a limited population.

When they took off, the blivot on the racks had been installed backwards, so the left main landing gear wouldn’t fully retract. An unretracted landing gear slows down a plane and reduces miles to the tankful. Driven by a serious case of GetAboarditis--where getting there took precedence, overriding all safety considerations--they continued on anyway, following their heatseekers.

The term ‘GetAboarditis’ came from the Navy aviator’s imperative to get aboard the carrier. The option in the middle of an ocean was a wet one--even if the ejection went well. Somehow, the mindset transferred to all Navy and Marine aviators, even though many more places existed to set a plane down safely over dry land.

Twenty minutes from Tinker with fifteen minutes of gas, the pilot in the back seat kept saying, “Don’t fuck it up. You’d better not fuck it up.”

They made it on fumes.

No harm, no foul.

My version of GetAboarditis involves racing around, yelling at anyone taking up floor space where I need to be or go through on my way to wherever I think it is important to get to. Andy has a knack of standing in the one place in the kitchen I need to be to cook the meal--and when he moves, he moves into the next place I need to be.

I know. I hear you. I should be sweet and kind and patient and tell him where I need him to be so I can cook his hollandaise sauce and steam the artichokes and shred the cheese before I pound the chicken between pieces of plastic wrap and froth the eggs and get out a bowl for the bread crumbs. I should not yell, “Get the *&%# out of my way!” I shouldn’t yell because I love him and I love cooking for him.

But I don’t love him being in the exact wrong spot.

And he is usually trying to be helpful.

As one of the stories in Marlo Thomas’s Free to Be You and Me pointed out, “Some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without.”

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