Saturday, August 29, 2009

RICK REILLY'S EXPERIENCE IN THE BACK SEAT OF A F-14 TOMCAT

The article below was written in 1999 by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated and is titled, "On a wing and a prayer".

I received this as a forward by email and thought of sharing it - in case any of you ever get invited to fly in a fighter cockpit....this would be helpful. This is written by an American with an American perspective, and also with a little bit of humour mixed with a pinch (handful)of salt.

So, tighten your straps and enjoy the flight!!!


An F-14 taking off with both afterburners lit up. (Image Courtesy Google Image Search)

Quote: Now this message is for America 's most famous athletes:


Someday you may be invited to fly in the back-seat of one of your country's
most powerful fighter jets. Many of you already have. John Elway,
John Stockton, Tiger Woods to name a few. If you get this opportunity,
let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity.... Move to Guam .

Change your name.

Fake your own death!

Whatever you do.
Do Not Go!!!

I know.

The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped.
I was toast! I should've known when they told me my pilot would
be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station
Oceana in Virginia Beach ..

Whatever you're thinking a Top Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks
like, triple it. He's about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair,
finger-crippling handshake -- the kind of man who wrestles
dyspeptic alligators in his leisure time. If you see this man, run the
other way. Fast.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the
voice of NASA missions. ('T-minus 15 seconds and counting'. Remember?)
Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad.
Jack would wake up from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting
for him to say, 'We have liftoff'.

Biff was to fly me in an F- 14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million
weapon with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin Montgomerie.
I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked
Biff if there was something I should eat the next morning.

'Bananas,' he said.

'For the potassium?' I asked.

'No,' Biff said, 'because they taste about the same coming up
as they do going down.'

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name
sewn over the left breast. (No call sign -- like Crash or Sticky or Leadfoot.
But, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had
instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman,
this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened
me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would 'egress' me out
of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked
unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me,
and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up In minutes we were firing nose
up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled over another F-14.

Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80.
It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only
without rails.
We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and
dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute.
We chased another F-14, and it chased us.



We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was sea. Flying at
200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5,
which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing
against me, thereby approximating life as Mrs.. Colin Montgomerie.

And I egressed the bananas.

And I egressed the pizza from the night before.

And the lunch before that.

I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade.

I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G's, I was egressing
stuff that never thought would be egressed.

I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

Biff said I passed out. Twice. I was coated in sweat. At one point,
as we were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock
bombing target and the G's were flattening me like a tortilla and I
was in and out of consciousness, I realized I was the first person
in history to throw down.

I used to know 'cool'. Cool was Elway throwing a touchdown pass,
or Norman making a five-iron bite.. But now I really know 'cool'.
Cool is guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs and freon nerves.
I wouldn't go up there again for Derek Jeter's black book, but I'm
glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie reliever
makes in a home stand.

A week later, when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said
he and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me. Said he'd
send it on a patch for my flight suit.

What is it? I asked.

'Two Bags.'

Don't you dare tell Nicole. Unquote.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HAPPINESS - A QUEST

Happiness is illusive to most of us. We do one thing after another to be happy. We set goals; we focus on the goals; achieve them, all to reach a state of happiness, and still find that we are not happy.

Happiness, as defined in wikipedia, "is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy". We are all looking to reach that state; some through earning more and more wealth; some through buying things that they want - the latest gadget, a dream car, etc.; some through marrying the person of their choice; some through looking and finding the career of their choice; some by immigrating to faraway lands; and through many other means. Did we find the happiness that we sought through all these means listed above, and which are widely sought after by most of us? Having been through over 56 years of life, I can unequivocally state that the answer is a definite "No". Why? Primarily because we have been looking for it in the wrong place. The power to be happy is in our own minds, and not in the external world in which we keep looking for it. Yes, we do get fleeting pleasures from the external world and stimuli - a new car of one's dreams gives great pleasure but the first scratch gives an equal amount of pain.

Happiness is always in the present moment and not in the distant or near future, and so it is important to enjoy the journey by accepting what comes one's way, rather than waiting for events to turn, as per one's own wants. Children have this unique ability and somehow we adults loose it in the process of growing up. My grand daughter gave me a number of lessons; the most important being that I was most happy when I saw her happy - happiness comes when one makes another happy - we are human - we are interdependent in every which way - we cannot be happy when others around us are unhappy.

I found these quotes, on the subject of happiness, that I really love, and thought that I would put them down here for easy reference......they do make a lot of sense to me and are really good food for thought, and for reflection.

1. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful............Herman Cain

2. Happiness resides not in posessions and not in gold; the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul .........................................Democritus

3. Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities ................Aldous Huxley

4. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion ....................Dalai Lama

5. I am very happy
Because I have conquered myself
And not the world.
I am very happy
Because I have loved the world
And not myself .............Sri Chinmoy

6. There is only one person who could ever make you happy, and that person is you .............David Burns

7. People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be ............Abraham Lincoln

8. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony .............. Mahatma Gandhi

9. Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom ...................Marcel Proust

10. If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years ....................Bertrand Russell

11. To be able to find joy in another's joy, that is the secret of happiness .........George Bernanos

12. We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it .............George Bernard Shaw

13. A happy life consists in tranquillity of mind .........Marcus Tullius Cicero

14. Men spend their lives in anticipations,—in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other—it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age ..................
Charles Caleb Colton

15. Happiness is where we find it, but rarely where we seek it ......J. Petit Senn

15. Our happiness is greatest when we contribute most to the happiness of others .........Harriet Shepard

16. When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy .........Samuel Goldwyn

17. When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us .......Helen Keller

18. Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go .........Oscar Wilde

19. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain .......Unknown

20. Happiness depends upon ourselves ...................Aristotle

21. The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man ...........George Bernard Shaw

What has been your experience with happiness in life? Do you agree or strongly disagree with any of the quotes above? Your comments are solicited.