This week was full of flight alert exercises, answering telephones and a smattering of house projects. What it did not contain, however, was an acceptable level of sleep! Larry left for temporary duty down in Texas for a month, as well.
This week marked my first nuclear alert response exercise. Whilst I did not work with the actual nukes, I went through the amazingly fast response process. I woke up at 0230 and headed into work for briefings. To make things even more exciting, we had the 91st Missile Wing Commander, a Colonel, riding with our crew for the flight for his “introduction” to the B-52. As fate would have it, we took practically the only van without a functioning heater to the jet parking area. When it’s 1°F outside, well… We prepared the jet and checked the systems to make sure they would be operational when we returned from the building to wait for the signal to go (as if we had to launch our jets & weapons in a time-critical manner).
All four crews were waiting in the alert building, waiting for the signal. Imagine about twenty-five people all waiting in one hallway, with only one set of doors for us all to crash through upon sounding the alarm! A very unfortunate airman who was tasked to wait right outside the door to take photographs of us running to the vans was almost aircrew roadkill! Three people (including myself) opened the door to the wrong van, and had to scramble to the correct one. Our maintenance crew chief never did find the correct van, and was almost left behind, about two miles from the aircraft. That is one long run! He hopped in with another crew as the tires were squealing to go!
It was pretty exciting to be speeding down the taxiways at ungodly speeds. We jumped out of the van and ran up to our aircraft, climbed into the darkness, and the engines were started within seconds. We were taxiing and ready for takeoff in no time flat. I imagine it was very exciting for the missile wing commander, who had never flown on the jets before. It was exciting for me, since I’m relatively new to this aircraft and hadn’t participated in this sort of exercise before. I guess America can know she is pretty darn safe after witnessing how quickly we can respond to a national threat. Awesome!