10 On Your Side CG ride-alongAugust 31st, 2009 at 6:25 pm by Jamie Bastas under 10 On Your Side, Military
Friday morning started a little different than most of my Friday mornings. I was up and at the station early to pick up my camera and head down to Elizabeth City. I was tasked with completing a ride-along with the Elizabeth City Coast Guard and shooting video of the flight. The Coast Guard crew were heading up and down the East Coast to issue a marine warning about Tropical Storm Danny. (I have to admit that I, not being a seasoned photographer, was so worried about getting enough video, that prior to the flight, I didn’t even think twice about what the day had in store for me.)
I arrived at the Coast Guard base about 7:45a and was immediately asked if anyone told me to pack my lunch (of course they didn’t!) and informed that it was going to be a ”long day”. After a quick stop at the exchange where I purchased enough snacks to get me through the day, I met the Commander (CDR Bruyere) and Co-pilot (Lt. Davis) of my flight. We boarded the HC-130J Hercules aircraft, and after a few routine checks, we were on our way. The flight began about 9am and we started heading south towards Wilmington, NC.
Once we arrived in the Wilmington area and positioned ourselves about 100 miles of the coast, AMT2 Brandon Kelly began transmitting the Urgent Marine Information Broadcast every 15 minutes on VHF-FM channel 16, the marine band radio emergency channel. The warning stated that Tropical Storm Danny was about 24 hours away from the East Coast of the United States and included wind speeds, direction and speed at which TS Danny was traveling.
From Wilmington we headed straight up the East Coast to New York. When we arrived in New York, I thought to myself that this flight was a “piece of cake.” Little did I know that we were only HALFWAY through our SEVEN (yes 7!) hour flight and that we still had to go all the way back down to Wilmington. Now, one would think that being in a plane that big, motion sickness, dizziness and headaches wouldn’t be a problem… well think again! After 5 hours of being in flight(and flying through numerous thunderstorms), motion sickness got the best of me (no I didn’t get sick [THANK GOODNESS], but I did have a MASSIVE headache). When I told the crew members what was wrong, they assured me that if I put on the oxygen mask then it would solve most, if not all, of my problems, boy were they right! (I guess these guys haven’t been in the Coast Guard this long without learning a few “tricks of the trade”!)
In all, we didn’t see many boats on the water (only about 15 along the East Coast). The Coast Guard feels like their mission was a success. Commander Bruyere stated that he was happy that most of the mariners took the precautions necessary for the upcoming storm and stayed off the water for the day.
We landed back at the Elizabeth City Coast Guard base around 4pm on Friday afternoon. During my 45 minute drive back to the station, I couldn’t help but think that a 7 hour flight would have me halfway to Europe or already on the West Coast of the United States (and laying on the beach) or almost in Hawaii. BUT I figured I can’t complain too much, but home wasn’t such a bad place to land! (Let’s be honest, by that time, I was just happy to be on the ground!)
The crew of flight 2001 was wonderful. CDR Bruyere and Lt. Davis, were very hospitable and great in answering all of my questions. The guys in the crew made sure that I understood what was going on and took time to explain everything to me! I can’t thank them enough for their warm welcome… they even let me check out the view from the co-pilot’s chair (actually I snuck in while he was “stretching his legs”!!!!)