18 Days. You Did What??

I’m soooooo busy.  Aren’t we all?

The greatest week of aviation, EAA AirVenture, has come to an end. I’m currently sitting on an airplane headed west to San Diego.  The past week was a whirlwind of activity.  My rest at home lasted a full day and it was time to pack again for another great adventure!  It’s somewhat surprising to me how little it bothers me that I’m not “caught up.”  My historical perfectionist, orderly, Type-A personality has transitioned quite well to the life of a traveler.  My desire to explore, to see and do new things has taken over.  I’ve learned to prioritize things in an order to keep an existence.  

The summer months are the busiest for me personally because I try to pack in as much travel and flying as possible while my children are out of school.  They are at a fairly self-sufficient age, thankfully.  We are surrounded by helpful friends and live in a central location to all things necessary or desired.  Years ago, I came across a helpful prioritizing tool. It’s called: The Eisenhower Matrix.  I highly recommend using it when life gets a little hectic.  Come to find out, I thrive in conditions that are not repetitive.  Maybe you do too?!?  It’s exciting to me, juggling many tasks at once. 

@Friendships

To explore and discover things about myself and others has been a consistent goal of mine.  My hope is that I can make others feel capable and valuable.  I love to ask meaningful questions and get to know what others really think and feel.  I’m usually that person at the party that asks the deeper, meaningful questions.  Small talk is draining to me.  I can do it but connecting with others can only happen beyond small talk.  Those are the harder questions but ones that people really want to ask and really want to answer.  Everyone wants to connect!

Oshkosh allowed me time to have some great conversations with new friends and with friends that were known previously.  Thankfully, there were some breaks (not many!) when I could spend more time and ask the more meaningful questions of friends and just sit to chat.  The foundation was laid for some life-long friendships to grow.  Some of my time there was spent with new acquaintances and several were with relationships that began months or even years ago.  There were a lot of introductions and there is limited time available with everything else going on but I’m confident each year at Oshkosh will provide more opportunities to spend with individuals that will leave an impression for years to come.  

There are many great things about this yearly fly-in, but the relationship building is my favorite.  Everyone has gone home now but we will stay in touch through social media or texting, etc.  We can share our lives with one another, whether it’s flying or other interests.  

Next Stop: NAS North Island, California

As mentioned above, there was a short-lived recuperation at home after Oshkosh before heading to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in California.  This special occasion was an offer to spend the night on an aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt!  It was originally scheduled for July 4, but because this is a working carrier, there was an unforeseen scheduling conflict.  In other words, the date really wasn’t up to me!  As anyone that’s been to Oshkosh knows, that’s an exhausting week but there was no way I was going to inform the Navy that sleep took priority over their welcome and outreach of hospitality.

Most people want to know more details about how it came to be that I would be hosted on the carrier.  It was a combination of things…

1) Being on social media and in particular, for this event, Twitter.

2) By following @flynavy.

3) By having good friends looking out for me! (NETWORK people!)

4) Timing.

A fairly new friend whom I met through social media had experienced this same trip-of-a-lifetime.  The Navy offers several of these programs on various ships.  It’s titled the “Distinguished Visitor” embarkation.  She found out about it on Twitter, as well.  @flyNavy made a Twitter announcement about another upcoming chance to spend time on a carrier.  They put out a question and you needed to send in your answer immediately after it was posted (that’s where #4 came in).  Fortunately, I was home and near my computer at that exact moment.  

The Navy responded almost immediately that the answer was correct and wanted to know if I could get to San Diego on July 4th.  Of course, I said “yes!”  Even though, I wasn’t 100% sure.  Whatever was going on would be rearranged for this extended stay.  There was a group of about thirteen other DV’s attending from all over the country.  We would all meet for the first time the day of our departure on the Navy base.  

At first, it was hard to believe.  Was this a prank?  It really seemed too good to be true and the realization really didn’t sink in until the day before my departure.  In all honesty, there were several email exchanges and security documents/forms, etc. before I was convinced that this wasn’t a scam.  

I’m Really Going!

As mentioned previously, the original date was changed and the new date would work as well.  Come hell or high water!! Hahahaha!  The entire scheduled time with the Navy would include a full day of touring the base and seeing some behind-the-scenes activities/locations, a flight from the base to the ship (which would take place on a C2 Greyhound), carrier touring and viewing, meals with crew and officers, overnight accommodations, followed by another day of touring, and it was capped off with being catapulted off the ship (0-140 in two seconds, by the way) and returned to base that afternoon. The specific details of the stay will be shared in the near future through another blog or video.  Make sure you subscribe to the flyGIRL YouTube channel so you don’t miss the video.  There were a ton of pictures and videos made.  

While onboard, besides being in awe the entire time, friendships were formed with the other DV’s and the ship’s crew.  There were MANY unforgettable moments, but one, in particular, occurred when we were walking through one of the tight corridors and a crewman asked if I was the “flyGIRL.”  He wanted to let me know that he follows my journey and that he has a one-year-old daughter who loves flying.  That put an even bigger smile on my face.  

There were several opportunities to inform others about flyGIRL and my aviation mission and passion.  I’m grateful for that.  What was even better though was sitting down with all kinds of crew members, of all ranks and just talking to them about their history and experience.  Everyone was friendly, kind, and enjoyed sharing their own story.  The ship was immaculate.  Everything is very well organized, scheduled and maintained.  The halls are constantly filled with people hustling and bustling.  There is always something going on, a job being fulfilled, maintenance, noises, etc.  It’s nonstop.  These servicemen and women are hard-working, sacrificing individuals.  My dad was in the Navy, so there’s always been an affinity for military life.  There is something special about arriving on a base, being saluted, wearing a uniform…It is a unique, bonded community.  Everyone wants America to thrive and to protect others.  

And Then, As If That Were’nt Enough.

Thunder Over Michigan.  I returned from my Fantasy Land trip to San Diego, spent the night at home and then headed north again.  The largest gathering of Corsairs was scheduled for display at the Thunder Over Michigan air show.  How could I NOT go?? My oldest son is moving to Florida in two weeks.  I decided to kidnap him from his girlfriend so we could enjoy some “memory-making” time together.  With two sons in tow, we headed to Ann Arbor and enjoyed the weekend together with dinner, a brief University of Michigan tour, followed by electric scooter rentals as we perused the streets of Ann Arbor and then enjoyed a late-night IMAX movie.  Whew!  We all slept in the following day before heading to the Yankee Air Museum and then the air show.  It was hot!  I didn’t realize Michigan got so warm in the summer.  It was very much worth it indeed.  There were plenty of air craft on display and the collection of Corsairs was a sight to behold.  We had a front row viewing as they all started up, lowered their wings and took off for several formation passes.  I had goose bumps.

A Bonding Love Of Aviation

Our crew getting ready to be catapulted!!!

Three great opportunities to make new friends, build relationships (with friends and family) and find the time to appreciate all we have in aviation and America. Plan a trip to Oshkosh or a local air show, support and follow our military and @flyNavy.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get to live out of your suitcase and wear some dirty laundry for two weeks straight as well?!?  

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