Sunday, July 3, 2016

Up in the Air

This is the 4th of July (2016) weekend, and since I normally post a blog on Sunday I thought I'd share with you something patriotic. More specifically, a story from my time in the U.S. Navy.

When I was on the USS Elrod (FFG-55), I had a leading Petty Officer named Carl Barber, who being an avid photographer, always looked for opportunities to play "shutter bug".

RM1 Carl Barber - with camera over shoulder
Because of him I purchased my first "real" camera: a Canon T50. A real beginner's beauty:

Now, Carl was a REAL photographer. He knew all about F-stops and apertures, and all that shtuff. Me? I knew the "auto" setting.

One day we took a ferry ride around the coast of Maine, navigating around a number of small islands. It was the perfect opportunity to snag some photos. We got on the boat, got settled, the boat left the pier, went around the corner and right smack dab into a fog bank. The temperature dropped and the visibility went to zero. We sat shivering, clutching our cameras for the entire ride.

Not all opportunities were misses though.

The USS Elrod was an anti-submarine vessel. Among its gear were two SH-60B LAMPS MK III helicopters. Now, in order for a helicopter to land on the back of a moving ship, the helicopter would lower a cable to a crewman on the flight deck, who would drop it through the deck to connect to a winch. The helicopter would pull back on the stick, making the cable taught. The winch would then start to pull the helicopter to the deck, with the pilot maintaining speed to match the ship. Once the helicopter touched down, it would be clamped to a trolley-type device that, after the props were folded back, would be carted into one of two hangers.

On the way back from the Persian Gulf, I had the opportunity to go into the Helo-Control Tower and take some photos. Here are a few showing you what I just described:

And for perspective, here are a few shots I took FROM the helicopter of the ship:

The Helo-Control Tower is the windowed box sticking out between the two closed "garage" doors.

So, as you enjoy a burger or brat, and maybe a cold brew, take a moment to say a quick prayer of gratitude for those serving in our armed forces. I know I will.

©Emittravel 2016

1 comment:

  1. This was very cool!! Thanks for sharing and for serving. You got to ride in a helicopter!!