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Heydes’ First Space-A Trip

Photo by John & Martie Heyde.

Photo by John & Martie Heyde.

What a trip!! We were up at 0100, short night, and we didn’t sleep well, we were both anxious. Taxi was to be there at 0200, but came late which turned out to be no problem since its only a half hour or so. The driver picks up soldiers from the strip joint all night and he was apparently busy with the new boys in town!!

We were picked up at our hotel at 0230 and arrived at Eielson just after 0300. The terminal was dark so we stood outside. It was chilly and drizzly, but no problem we were there before show time with only two other guys there ahead of us. There were 10 seats available. The terminal gal, Lindsey, arrived at 0400, opened the door and asked us why we didn’t wait inside, the door is never locked! LOL

We got checked in quickly, no frisking, no pat downs, no issues!!, our four bags weighed 126.5 pounds, limit is 140. At 0620 they drove us to the aircraft, a KC135 air to air refueling tanker. We took off at 0730. Lots of legroom on this flight. Seats are lined up along both sides with nothing in the middle except space! Plenty of room to lie down across the seats. We all took naps!

This is simply amazing! I was able to go to the aft of the aircraft, go down in the boomers pit on my stomach and watch F-22’s refuel! What a fantastic sight. I wished I had taken my iPad down there with me, but maybe I’ll get another chance. I did take some pics and videos out the side windows. Pretty cool stuff. The crew guys are really nice to us.

KC-135 prepared to be boarded. Photo provided by John & Martie Heyde.

KC-135 prepared to be boarded. Photo provided by John & Martie Heyde.

Then we find out there is another refueling just north of Seattle. I videoed the end of the first jet and all of the second jet – just mind boggling. I even got to go into the cockpit, checked out our location, etc. The crew treated us like one of them!

We had purchased box (bag) lunches: grinder, chips, fruit cup, rice krispie treat, apple juice at a cost of $4.55 each. Well into the trip, one of the crew came around with soda and chips. Then a while later, freshly baked cookies!! We’re spoiled now!

We arrived at Andrews AFB – text book landing – one of the smoothest ever! We get bused to the terminal which is open all night. I call the Inn for a room, none available so we decide to go to Scott AFB, IL, tonight, then pick up Lackland AFB, TX, tomorrow.

Martie sits in for the First Lady on Heyde’s Space-A flight on her airplane. Photo provided by John & Martie Heyde.

Martie sits in for the First Lady on Heyde’s Space-A flight on her airplane. Photo provided by John & Martie Heyde.

We were on a C-40C that just happens to be the First Lady’s aircraft. We haven’t a clue why it’s going to Scott AFB.

There were 10 Space-A travelers and no one else. Plush seats, reclining with foot-rests. I haven’t seen the drink cart yet but we did get a bottle of room temperature water! Beggars can’t be choosers I guess!! The plane is first class, then a section with sofas, then “economy” – that’s where we are. LOL! Its probably where the secret service and media sit. I spoke to the crew, they were returning to Scott, their home base. They took the First Lady somewhere today, brought her back and are returning home. Must be our lucky day. How long can this go on? There are flights to Lackland tomorrow, probably a puddle jumper, but who cares at this point!

We land at Scott and unfortunately have to disembark, would’ve been nice to sleep there all night, but not likely! Since the terminal was closed, they dropped us off at the Scott Inn, but, no surprise, there are no rooms available.

I asked if they mind if we sit in the lobby all night. A few minutes later he tells us he has a room! We ask what time the shuttle picks up and learn it doesn’t run on Saturday. He does however offer to give us a lift with the hotel vehicle. More nice people!

It’s morning and we are signed up for the flight to Lackland, but there is bad weather in the area so it might be canceled. It’s been a textbook trip so far so can’t really complain.

Show time is 0640 so no time for breakfast, just some cookies from the vending machine.

They took us to the flight line and brought us back to the terminal due to lightning within five miles. The crew can’t work in the storm. Hopefully it will clear soon.

Well, we finally got to load up and take off around 1000. We are on a C130 turbo prop aircraft, hurricane hunter.

On board with us are several MEDIVAC personnel conducting training exercises. The plane will pick up patients at various bases.

This is not to be compared with last night’s luxurious aircraft, but it will get us there! The crew makes no connection with us. They all enjoy snacks and breakfast – no sharing on this flight! We’re tired anyway, so we snooze!

We arrive at Kelly Field Annex (formerly Kelly AFB, now part of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, TX), and we’re told there are no services, the terminal is a public building, no shuttle, nothing. There is an Enterprise car rental on base but when I call, they have no cars … I thought perhaps I could get them to pick us up – not to be! So after some discussion with others also stuck there, we hooked up with a man who offered to give us a lift to find the shuttle to the airport to rent a car.

We missed the shuttle by five minutes and the next would be four hours. That nice man then decided to take us to the airport! He waited at the car rental to be sure we would get a car!

We met so many kind people throughout the entire trip. What a blessing they all were—including the Alamo agent who set us up with a full-size car and gave us a military discount! He and John had a chat about the Coast Guard. We don’t always remember to ask for a military discount.

This was a trip of a lifetime – from the flight to Vancouver to the fabulous cruise, the land tour through Alaska, and the adventure getting home!

We drove from San Antonio airport home, with one pit stop, we hadn’t eaten all day. We arrived at Royal Navigator at 1900.

God blessed us with fair winds and following seas, beautiful weather, breathtaking scenery, unbelievable food and wonderful companionship! We were lucky to have many people at the bases very helpful and kind to these two rookies!

CPO John P. Heyde, USCG, (Ret.) and Martie Heyde Montgomery, Texas

Reprint from Nov-Dec 2012 • Volume 42, No. 6


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