Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Jimmy T, in comments to yesterday’s post, talked about the neat things one can see on a daily basis at Pax River Naval Air Station.  And then, coincidentally… this lil item hit my in-box this morning.  From the AFA’s Daily Report:

RQ-4 Flies Atlantic:  An Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle flew for the first time across the Atlantic to Southwest Asia, making the 19-hour flight from NAS Patuxent River in Maryland. The milestone flight came on Sept. 20 and USAF expected to have the high-altitude RQ-4 fly a 24-hour war on terror mission within hours of arrival in theater. Airmen from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., joined forces with sailors and Navy contractors, who work with the Navy's maritime version of the Global Hawk, to cut time and save resources. A1C Matthew Miles, an avionics specialist, said, "The Navy has all the supplies that we have, plus contracted support." And, according to Col. George Zaniewski, Air Combat Command's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance division chief, crossing the Atlantic "allows us to cut a lot of different stops in a lot of different areas." He expects cooperation to increase between the Air Force and Navy with the Global Hawk. ACC's chief of current operations, Maj. Alan Rabb, believes the impact from this joint effort will "be really huge" and has opened the door to a "different aspect of joint ops." (ACC report by MSgt. Steven Goetsch)

Does this amaze you as much as it amazes me, Gentle Reader?
  The Global Hawk has flown extreme distances… non-stop… before, but to fly it across the Atlantic and through heavily trafficked air space is pretty amazing stuff, in my book… not to mention the five-hour turn around from arrival to first mission in the AOR.  MOST impressive!

The photo was taken from the “ACC report” link, above.
  There are three more hi-res photos at the link, if you’re interested.  And the USAF photo I used to illustrate this piece is but 40% the size of the original pic. 


Another brief reflection on aging…
  Are you familiar with that ol’ saying “My get up and go got up and left,” Gentle Reader?  I’ve been feeling that way of late.  And I sorta understand now, after all these years, the attitude my father had in his old age.  Which, of course, bears some ‘splainin’.  

During the course of my Air Force career I extended invitations to my father to come visit… especially when I was stationed in 
Japan and England.  He always declined… citing this reason, that reason, and the other reason.  It was work, while he was still working.  He ran out of excuses when he retired for good and finally just came right out and said “Thanks, but I’m not interested.  My traveling days are done and I’m quite content to stay where I am, thank you very much.”  This attitude shocked me, especially the last time I invited him to come visit… when The Second Mrs. Pennington and I were stationed in England.  There’s more to that particular story. 

I was stationed at the 2119
th Communications Squadron on RAF Uxbridge, in the London borough of Hillingdon.  The 2119th was co-located with the UK District Headquarters of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI).  To make a long story short, I had the responsibility of handling AFOSI’s communications requirements and, as a result, I spent a bit of time with the district commander, a full colonel who was a crusty old sort, as colonels tend to be.  He loosened up quite a bit, though, when I told him the Ol’ Man was a retired AFOSI agent and I had had quite the childhood, what with being drug around from base to base with my dad.  So… after a meeting one day, this colonel asks me to stay in his office and chat a while.  He pulled out a small pamphlet and asked if Buck Pennington was my dad, to which I answered “yes.”  The pamphlet he showed me was a directory of retired AFOSI guys, and I had no idea such a directory existed.  But… to cut to the chase… the colonel told me the District was holding a reunion of OSI guys who had served in the UK and my dad most definitely qualified to attend and really should come to the event.  I enthusiastically agreed.  So… the colonel wrote a personal invitation to my father, asking him to consider attending the reunion and cc’ed me on the invite.  I was quite pleased.  But… did the invite work?


That was the point I got the “my traveling days are over” routine.
  “Regrets,” and all that.  I was crushed; the colonel was disappointed.  And I didn’t “get it,” at all.

Ah… but I do now.
  I feel the same way, actually.  I’ve mentioned in passing that I let my passport lapse several years ago and have no intention of renewing it.  But… this leaves me wondering.  Why is it that some people retire and travel… a lot… while others become homebodies?  My former in-laws were in the former category, in that they took an international trip each and every summer after they retired, going to Russia (a cool cruise down the Volga), the Far East (China, Japan, Thailand… the list goes on), and a trip to visit TSMP and I while we were in London… every year.  The answer as to “why not travel” isn’t financial in all cases, and certainly wasn’t the case with my father… or me, for that matter.  It seems like our “get up and go” really DID get up and leave.  Perhaps the reason my in-laws traveled a lot in retirement was because they never traveled all that much as young adults, whereas my father and I were truly 20th century migrant workers.  In my case, the longest I’d ever lived in one place before my 4oth birthday was three years… in London, of all places… and then it was off to the next place.  And I covered a lot of ground in the process, both in these United States and overseas. 

Still and even… one would think travel would “get in the blood” and the habit would continue on as you age.
  Such is not the case with me.  I’m perfectly content to sit on my ass here on The High Plains of New Mexico, and I really don’t understand exactly why that is.  But I finally DO understand the way the Ol’ Man felt, though.  One mystery of old age: solved.  Sorta.  I’m thinking I need a rocking chair for the verandah.


  1. I don't get it. I didn't get it when my father refused a trip to the White House, and he never traveled even in his younger days. Maybe it will hit me someday - I hope not. I think it is a "starter" problem. It may be the getting going that is the problem. I think, once you get going, you would enjoy. I also think that you need someone to travel with...

  2. With me it's definitely financial. Plus, I just haven't found the place yet that would make me say, "Okay, this is it. I never want to leave here."

  3. Right now I DO feel like I have found the place that makes me want to stay here. I have a long list of places here in the state I want to travel too, and maybe other states in the west...Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho. But big long trips anymore? Not as interested in it as I used to be. I don't want to be a complete homebody, but I am kind of content with the little trips close by.

    A rocking chair for the verandah -- now that sounds nice.

  4. I don't know, Suppose Lou could have something in her comment about having someone to share the trip with.
    That makes it for me, cause I'm normally a home body too.
    Whichever way you are, just being happy and content matters most eh?

  5. Lou sez: I also think that you need someone to travel with...

    I thought about holding forth on this aspect in the post, but didn't... for whatever reason. But this is a VERY valid point. The ex-girlfriend and I traveled all over the state on nearly every weekend and to AZ and TX, too. I haven't done a whole helluva lot of traveling since she and I broke up.

    Then again, my father had someone to travel with and he just flat refused. Also: I did the Great European Divorce Tour in '99 alone. It had its moments, but on the whole? Not NEARLY as much fun as it would have been with a friend or lover. Preferably the latter.

    Christina sez: With me it's definitely financial. Plus, I just haven't found the place yet that would make me say, "Okay, this is it. I never want to leave here."

    Dang. I hate to think P-Ville is "the place I never wanna leave." Out of ALL the places in the world... yadda, yadda! ;-)

    Sharon: I still have my list, too, but having it and acting on it are two entirely different things!

    Dawn sez: Whichever way you are, just being happy and content matters most eh?

    Ab-so-frickin'-lute-ly! My father pointed this exact same thing out to me, numerous times. But, being young and stupid I refused to accept it... no, check that... I was young and knew every-damned-thing. I've only gotten stupider as I've gotten older. ;-)

  6. I understand completely, Buck.

    When I was a youngster, my Dad was employed by the airlines. Eastern, then Aeronaves De Mexico, then Flying Tigers, then... well, finally, Singapore Airlines.

    As a family, we got to travel a lot, since his employment entitled him to free passage, and since he was also a voluble type who ingratiated his (our) way onto many other carriers. We took three or four trips every year - London, Paris, Miami, Chicago, Mexico City, Rome, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and on and on.

    By the time I was 20, and he wanted me to accompany him to Singapore, I just plain out said, "No." I much preferred to stay home in Boston (Dorchester) and hang with my friends. And, for the most part, I still feel that way. I've enjoyed a few trips with MY WIFE - having someone new to travel with does help - but, mostly, I have no desire to ever set foot on an airplane again, if I can help it.

    (Of course, the way air travel has deteriorated since the "good ol' days", and the hoops you have to jump through now due to terrorism, don't make it any more pleasant.)

  7. Global Hawk - Just LOVE that plane! Amazing what they can do and do each and every day!

    Travel - I think you are right. When we travel young, especially for business, we get tired of the hassle of it later on.

  8. Jim: I agree whole-heartedly about flying today. Every airline has become a (sorta) high-tech Greyhound. It's most definitely a different experience these days and it ain't "improved" over what I knew in my youth.

    Cynthia: You're MOST definitely right about business travel. I got a kick out of it for about three years (after the Air Force) but then it got real old, real fast. There were exceptions, like most any international trip. But in the US? Arrrgh.

  9. The travel discussion made me think of my friend. When she retired, she had barely left the state. Now she spends at least 6 months a year in Europe. Her youth was spent rooted - her retirement gave her wings!

  10. Ya know, in the years I was 19 through my mid-30s, I traveled to Europe about every other year because frankly, I felt the day would come when we wouldn't be allowed to travel freely or that travel for a single woman would get unsafe.

    I don't know why, but now two weeks shy of 43, I already feel done with overseas travel. The sad thing is one of my best friends is British and doesn't come here very often. Heck. Maybe I should pay her fare for her to visit more often, since I'm so reluctant.

    In fact, pretty much any trip I'll take these days will be a road trip. Call me curmudgeonly- I don't care. If I can't drag my dogs along, I figure I don't need to be there.

  11. Phlegmmy sez: n fact, pretty much any trip I'll take these days will be a road trip. Call me curmudgeonly- I don't care. If I can't drag my dogs along, I figure I don't need to be there.

    Well, that pretty much eliminates the UK, don't it? Unless they've changed their ridiculous quarantine laws, of course. But I don't think they have...

    Thanks for your input, Phlegmmy. It's good to know I'm not alone!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.