We are finally back home after a wonderful time in Georgia! We flew into Orlando, FL and rented a car to drive the four hours up to Valdosta, GA. When James got off work he showed up at our hotel and took us on a tour of the base. I can't tell you enough how grand it was to see our son!
Friday was Track Select which began at 8:00 a.m. We arrived at James' apartment at 7:30 and he drove us onto base in his car. Our day began in the briefing room and they ran through a typical morning. They (the IP's) explained how they entered through a certain door (leaving out the part of kicking it open) and how the students were all at attention. They roll-played some of the typical scenarios that the pilots would encounter and how they were to answer. We met and mingled with all the students and their parents. After that session we were pretty much on our own to go out to the RSU tower where they monitor all the flights and critique them. You can watch them work the pattern, take off and land. After the RSU we were able to go to the Simulator, which looks like a huge mushroom cloud, all black. Once inside we were able to get into the simulator and go through some of the maneuvers. Once I got in the air James led me through the procedure for an aileron roll. He bragged on my perfect roll...I'm sure it was totally due to his perfect instructing! :) We also went out to the flight line, climbed up into one of the planes and generally looked everything over.
The highlights were that evening. They began the evening with a "mixer" so parents and students could mingle and eat before the festivities began. Then they began with introductions of the IP's and other distinguished guests. From there it moved into awards. The first acknowledgement was for the five or six pilots who never hooked (failed) a check ride (a final exam flight over a block of knowledge). James was one of those. Then they announced who had received a perfect score on all academic tests...Totaling 514 questions. There was one pilot who aced all 514 questions and one pilot who missed only 1 question. They announced the pilot who did not hook ANY rides at all...that was Kate, the married gal who is going to train for Heavies. They wound up this section by announcing the Outstanding Officer of the class. It was none other than our James!!! It is a very high honor to be accorded! I thought Jim and I would faint dead on the spot! We are still in awe how the Lord has blessed our son over these last six months!
Then it was "On to the Games!" They would take 3 or 4 pilots and pit them against each other in some kind of game...one was musical chairs, another was a race in getting out of their G-suit, running around "something" and coming back to their chair and sitting. Another game was shooting some kind of rocket thing through the Ring of Fire (a hoola-hoop decorated with lit up Christmas tree lights). This was James' game. How you finished in each game determined in what order you would find out your selection. James finished second so he found out second out of the three of them.
My cousin and her daughter were able to be there for the big event. They came down from Auburn, AL. The next day we all went back to Auburn with them to see her Mom and Dad and her siblings etc. Her Mom was my Dad's sister and the last surviving member of her family. We worshiped on Sunday with them, got a bite to eat after church and then headed back to Valdosta.
Monday found James, Jim and I at a swamp which was quite fascinating. I was able to get a couple of cool pictures of a green lizard with a blue dragonfly in it's mouth! We celebrated James' 23rd birthday a week early that evening. Then James came over for a very early breakfast with us before we left on Tuesday morning!
James is waiting for his orders to come in telling him when he needs to report to Corpus Christi NAS. And his Dad and I are gearing up to begin praying him through the next six months of pilot training which will culminate in his earning his wings! Corpus Christi here we come!!! :)