Bonus Post: I Got to Ride in a Military Plane

My long-time readers will have seen other posts about my adventures in military-spouse life. It’s hard a lot of the time, but sometimes it’s really, really cool, and today was one of those days.

I completed a class/networking event on the base we’re at called HeartLink, and as a reward for attending, I got the opportunity to go for a ride in a C-130 military cargo plane. How could I possibly say no to that?

We met at the Airlift Squadron’s office (it’s probably called something else; if you’re here for exacting military jargon you are sadly mistaken; I do my best but that’s about it), and I settled into a conference room with a taxidermied giraffe in it.

“Holy crap, that’s a giraffe!” I said as I sat down.

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Oh, did you think I was joking?
“Oh yeah, that’s Limpopo,” remarked the man in the flight suit who was setting up the projector. “The last time I saw him was at a base in Texas.”

“So he’s…a traveling…giraffe?”

“Yep. It was cool to see him here.”

I was truly down the rabbit-hole now. Or, giraffe hole. Giraffes don’t dig holes. Moving on.

The rest of the spouses going on the flight filtered in, and we were treated to a briefing about all the cool stuff the squadron does, how all the other units (that our spouses are in) help this squadron and others out, and someone very important told us, “When they open the back hatch, do not unbuckle.”

We all exchanged a look. We’re opening hatches on this flight?

The Base Commander’s wife got up and told us, with a very loud, high-pitched laugh, that she wasn’t on the list to go with us on the flight, and that she ‘had an opportunity to fly back in spring, so ENJOY! HAHAHAHAHAHA.’

Oh lordt.

We bid farewell to Limpopo and headed out to the flightline, where there was a big fat plane waiting for us.

See? It’s just ponderous.

We got to walk all around it (although not under the propellers, as apparently those might turn on their own without notice…), and then we went around to the aforementioned back hatch for a safety briefing, I assumed to make sure none of us broke this very expensive aircraft or our necks.

The Load Master giving us the safety briefing pulled out a green pouch and said, “If we happen to need oxygen, it’s not like on a commercial flight. You’re going to open this green pouch, pull out this plastic bag, and put it over your head.

“Um, I’ve heard that’s the opposite of what I want to do if I’m trying to breathe.”

“It sounds counterintuitive, but oxygen will start flowing as soon as you open it up, so don’t worry.”

“…what if it doesn’t???” One nervous lady asked.

“Oh, we’ll notice, and we’ll be right on top of you getting it fixed. I PROMISE, we’re not gonna let anyone die on this flight.”

I looked around at the crowd and noticed that we had a pretty even mix of ‘reassured’ and ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’ going on. But the dudes in the flight suits just look so darned trustworthy! They’ve all got these big cheese-eating grins, and they shake your hand with their gigantic bear-paw-looking ones and say ‘Hi I’m Chad,’ and ‘I promise we won’t let you die on this flight,’ and you kinda have to feel better, because clearly the guys working the airplane are not nervous – so why should we feel that way?

So we got onto the plane and settled into some seats lined with red canvas, our backs resting against more red canvas in the form of cargo netting.

“How do I work this seat belt?” One lady asked.

“Oh, if it the buckle doesn’t work, just tie it in a knot,” said one of the crew members, laughing at his own joke. He went on to show her how it connected, saying, “We’ve transported Army guys before, and they couldn’t work the seat belt, so they just -” [makes whooshing noise while gesturing as if tying a knot] “- tied the thing together and said, ‘Yeah, I’m good!'”

They gave us presents for the flight (a pair of earplugs and a barf bag), and one of the guys passed out gum and mints to help our ears pop. Honestly, I’ve gotten worse service on Spirit Air; these guys are pretty good.

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I like how it tells us not to be embarrassed if we need to hurl.
Just like on a commercial flight, we waited a while before we took off. Unlike a commercial flight, we actually got to see the crew running around and doing stuff while we waited.

After a bit, the propellers started turning, and we all put in our earplugs. Trust me, they were necessary – a C-130 is a very, very loud plane, and there’s no sound insulation on the inside, so we heard the full effect of those gigantic engines.

We started to taxi out to the runway, and someone opened the back hatch. This type of plane has a gigantic opening on the tail, to put in cargo and people and whatever. So they opened it partway, and one of the load masters laid down on his stomach with his head hanging out of the plane.

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“Wait,” I asked my friend. “Is he…helping the plane back up???”

“I guess these things don’t come with backup cameras,” my friend chuckled.

Sure enough, the guy hanging off the back of the plane was talking on his headset and gesturing occasionally, helping guide the plane through backing up so it could get turned around properly. Later on, my husband would confirm that not only was that guy telling the pilot where he needed to go to back up, but there were probably people standing on the ground helping with this process too. Considering the sheer size of the plane, it must feel like you’re having to parallel park a double-wide trailer. A multi-million-dollar double-wide trailer. No pressure.

But they managed it with pinpoint precision, and in a few minutes the engines got even louder, and we took off over the base and into the Germany countryside.

You guys.

It was so beautiful.

We flew really low, so we could see all the gorgeous scenery. Bridges, foggy valleys, forests all turning orange for fall, little farmhouses tucked into their little fields – we saw all of it through the windows, and it was absolutely stunning. Once we got off the ground, the crew let us unbuckle and walk around the plane. Over the roar, we could ask them questions about the plane, their jobs, etc.

We got to see the cockpit:

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Man, that’s a lot of buttons.
And then they had us sit down and buckle up again. A couple of dudes put on helmets with big goggles, and one guy strapped himself into a jump seat that was bolted to the wall of the plane near the back.

And then they opened the hatch.

WHAT.

They literally opened up the back of the plane while we were flying! It was so cool! And also terrifying, because the two guys wearing helmets were just standing back there (with cables hooking them to the plane) like they were not 1,500 feet over Germany right then. One of them came around and took the phones of those of us who offered them, and zipped them into the pockets of his flight suit before returning to the open hatch to take pics for us. Despite the terrifying mental image of all our phones streaming out over Rheinland-Pfalz like so many Luftballoons, it was SO COOL that they were taking pictures for us, mainly because that meant I didn’t have to be near the car-sized opening on the back of a plane that was in the air at the time.

Both guys sat down on the back hatch like they were chilling out at a tailgate party, knees pulled up and facing the open sky. We all watched them in awe; they handled it like they do this every day…which they probably do. These guys are cool AF.

 

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Pictured: Cool AF.
None of our phones left the plane without us, and as they passed them back to their owners, one of the crew came around with a case of ginger ale for anyone who wanted it. A few people did, but I didn’t see any barf bags come out, so hooray for us.

As we were getting ready to land, the pilot did make several sharp turns to get us facing the right way, which is the one part of the flight that was actually a little scary. For a big giant hippo-plane, that thing could turn, and turn it did. The ground and sky dipped in and out of the windows, I grabbed onto the cargo netting, and we all wondered if the pilot just thought the flight had gone a little too smoothly for us.

The landing was excellent, and we all thanked the crew and wobbled our way off the plane. Oh yeah, apparently walking around on a plane like that makes you feel a little drunk when you get onto solid ground again, so that’s fun.

Am I glad I did that? Oh. Hells. Yes. That was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I am so glad that I took the opportunity. If you get the chance to do something awesome, you don’t sit around and risk it passing you by – you jump at that, and you get on that plane, and you hold onto the cargo netting and pray you don’t barf or have to stick your head in a plastic bag that allegedly helps you breathe.

Being a military spouse is really hard sometimes. But other times, it is a truly epic adventure that I’m continually grateful for.

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Product Review: Leaders Insolution Vita Brightening Renewal Mask

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The thing about acne-prone skin is that sometimes you have to cause a breakout to prevent a worse breakout, or a less-expected one. Inevitably, when you do a treatment that’s meant to improve acne, it gets a little worse before it gets better. Why? I’m not entirely sure, though I’m guessing the dermatologists of the world have a good explanation. My best guess is that all that oil and inflamed skin is just hiding under the surface, and when you do anything to get your skin cells to turn over more quickly, it all comes to the top and you get a breakout. Again, definitely not a dermatologist. You should ask one of them why this happens.

This Leaders Insolution mask came in my final PinkSeoul box before I moved to Germany, and I was saving it for a special occasion. It’s not that I can’t get my subscription boxes here, but it would take a LOT longer for them to ship, and also I now have access to the Etude House website, which ships to Europe but not the US! I plan on spending my skin care money there and on Lush.de, for at least a little while.

The ‘special occasion’ I picked to use this mask was ‘I wanted a nice, hot bath and a sheet mask.’ I didn’t say it had to beĀ really special. The fact that I have a decent-sized bath tub is occasion enough for me.

I really liked the fit of this mask. It stuck right to my face and didn’t slip or try to peel off at all. There’s something satisfying about the masks that turn really translucent and just adhere to my skin; it’s weirdly satisfying. The mask felt great while it was on, no weird tingling like I’d expect from something with a load of vitamin C in it.

When I took it off, I realized that I probably wouldn’t need to do any other moisturizing that night! The leftover essence was coating my skin so thoroughly that I could tell it was going to take forever to soak in, so I skipped my night cream and just patted the essence in as best I could. It felt a little heavy on my skin, but I went to bed and told myself I’d wash extra thoroughly the next morning.

Surprisingly enough, I actually did get up and wash my face really well! I’m just not good at it in the mornings, guys, we all have our flaws. My face felt fine the next day, not overly-moisturized, and not tight or dry. However, I did notice that my persistent chin acne had been drawn out by the mask. Ugh. It almost looked like I’d gotten a milder version of a skin peel, so whatever was being covered up by my top layer of skin was now exposed and needing attention.

Like I said, sometimes if I use a product ‘for blemishes,’ it causes a breakout that I then have to treat. But if I look at my skin under just the right lighting, I can see that those problem spots are already there – they’re just deep under the surface. Sometimes it’s good to draw them out so I can treat them effectively, rather than pretending they’re not there until something weird happens and I get a breakout unexpectedly. It seems counterintuitive, causing a breakout just so you can treat it, but remember that your skin is more than just the surface part that people see every day, and if you want to keep your skin healthy, you have to treat the stuff way deep down too. The vitamin C in this mask did a great job of removing some dead skin cells (a constant problem for me), and revealing the skin beneath that needed some TLC. It couldn’t have gotten said TLC if it was still covered up by all that dead skin. I’ll call this one a win.

Would I buy the Leaders Insolution mask again? I certainly wouldn’t kick it out of the bathroom if one showed up. At $5 each, it’s a mid-range mask, so I could see picking up a few of their products as a treat for myself. It’s a great mask for clarifying skin, but I would mentally prepare myself for a possible breakout if I were you – you might not know what’s going on down on those lower skin layers until they’re pulled back. But once you know, you can treat it! Here’s to better, healthier skin.