Cross Country flying was one of the "perks" of being an aviator in the United States Air Force. Basically, the Air Force lent you a jet for the weekend, and you could take it almost anywhere you wanted to, as long as you worked in some training missions between stops. What a deal! And you got PAID for it, too!
We would normally leave our home station on a Friday morning, fly a "sortie" (mission) enroute to our intermediate stop, "gas and go" after we land, fly another sortie, and finally end up at our destination usually in time for Happy Hour at the Officer's Club. On Saturday, we'd sleep in a little bit, then jump in our jet and fly either 1 or 2 sorties enroute to our next destination. Sometimes, however, we just stayed at our Friday stop for the entire weekend, depending on the reason we went to that location in the first place. On Sunday, we'd try and get an early start, two-hopping it back home, so we (and the jet) would be ready for duty Monday morning.
I immensely enjoyed going cross country. It was a great way to see the United States (and Europe, if you were stationed overseas), and you always ran into interesting people at your various stops. Sometimes we used cross countries to visit family, if we were stationed far from home. For example, when I was stationed in Texas, I was sometimes able to fly to Alabama to visit my folks, and out to Arizona to visit my In-laws. Some guys would use cross countries to make new female friends, or visit existing ones. Not me, though. Since I was married, there was no reason to look for companionship. After all (as one wise man said to me), "Why look for hamburger when you have steak at home". It's a motto I still live by today.
Another good deal was static display duty, which I volunteered for all the time. That's where we'd take a jet to another base or city that was having an air show, and we'd stand out by our jet, in our flight suits, interacting with the public. That was really a lot of fun. We'd get a lot of questions like "How fast does this thing go?" or "Where is the gun?" (we don't have one on our jet), and we'd also have older folks come up and tell us their flying stories from WWII, Korea & Vietnam. Plus, participating in these kind of events were big morale boosters for me. Many people came up and thanked me for the job I was doing, and that made me feel real good.
All in all, cross countries and static displays turned out to be pretty good times. And if anyone from the Amigo Air Show in El Paso ever reads this, thanks for the best time ever! You guys really know how to take care of people.
Sure wish my current job had jets...
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