September 28, 2003

Great American Hero

As a kid, I grew up with the very specific dream of graduating from the Air Force Academy, flying jets, and ultimately becoming an Air Force test pilot. Poor eyesight ultimately caused me to awake from that dream, and I now pay to fly rather than fly for pay. Still, part-and-parcel with my love of jets was a hero worship for the United States Air Force demonstration squadron, The Thunderbirds. On more than one occasion a mother schlepped friends and me up to Hill Air Force Base so we could watch the Thunderbirds perform under the warm Utah sky, and each time it was a highlight of the summer.

So I was pumped when I looked up from my place in Salt Lake International’s security line last Thursday to see Number 7 standing in front of me checking his flight gear through security (odd to see a Thunderbird flight helmet rolling through the x-ray machine just in front of your shoes). Number 7 is Major Randy Redell, and he flies the No. 7 jet as the Thunderbird’s Operations Officer. We had adjoining gates, and he was kind enough to walk together, talk jets, and even pose for a picture (for the confused: he's the one in the short sleeves; I'm the one in the coat and tie).

He’s 35, tan, built, and happy. Had just “flown one of the jets up from Nellis” to Hill that morning for some maintenance and was flying back to Vegas commercial. Says things like, “Can’t imagine what it would be like to work for a living.” Oh … and he’s arguably one of the 100 or so finest pilots in the known world. Just like when I was 13, a Thunderbird made my day, and personally, I feel fortunate to have people like him serving our defense.

Posted by Avocare at September 28, 2003 07:32 PM | TrackBack

He doesn't look tan to me. He looks rather pale.


Posted by: michele at September 28, 2003 07:34 PM

Your posting brings a big smile to my face! I remember those days well.

Posted by: Gwen at September 29, 2003 07:17 AM
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