Kealoha's Adventures

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Thunderbird Slideshow

I'm off into the wild blue yonder...with the Thunderbirds!

Being a celebrity (even if it’s just a celebrity traveling doll) has its perks, and one of those is the cool things you get invited to do. Thanks to SSgt. Randy Redman, Chief of Community Relations with the USAF Thunderbirds, I got to live the dream of every Air Force kid (or doll) and fly with the Thunderbirds!

The Thunderbirds is the name usually used for the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. The Thunderbirds travel the world showing just how amazing the USAF pilots and aircraft are, performing incredible aerial maneuvers at high speeds (upward of 450 miles per hour!) at air shows. They are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada so I got to travel to Las Vegas, too! (Needless to say, Miss K’s dad was very jealous since he is from that area and was stationed at Nellis when he worked with the F-117s. I tried to stop by that Tonopah place and say hi for him but there were clearance issues…it seems Top Secret clearances aren’t good for the whole family. Who knew?)

The Thunderbird pilots are “the best of the best” but they couldn’t do what they do without a whole lot of help from the rest of the team, especially the team’s 120 enlisted airmen. (Which is why there is an old Air Force saying, “Without ground support, pilots are just pedestrians in fancy jackets.”) In fact, ground support is so important each jet has the name of its crew chief (the person responsible for to all the day-to-to day care for the jet) painted “on the rail” (right below the cockpit). Watching the crews out on the flight line maneuvering the jets, was amazing; it was kind of like a ballet, only with more tools.

SSgt. Redman was travelling when I arrived at Nellis so I got to hang around the office for awhile after I arrived. Finally, the day of my flight arrived! I was excited to finally meet the pilot who would be flying me back to Vance Air Force Base (where the Thunderbirds would be appearing at our annual air show). All the pilots are amazing and, yes, the best of the best, but I think I am the luckiest doll in the world! I got to fly with Major Samantha Weeks, who is the second female pilot to fly with the Thunderbirds and the first woman to fly in a lead solo position. Talk about a real live American Girl! Major Weeks has definitely proven that we girls can do anything – even be a fighter pilot - if we work hard, follow our dreams and believe in ourselves.

Major Weeks and I made our 1000 mile or so trip in a Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet. Major Weeks is Thunderbird #5 and since she mostly flies upside down during the demonstrations, her number is painted upside down on the side of her jet! Unfortunately, Thunderbirds flight suits don’t come in my size so I decided to pay tribute to the first female pilots to fly for the US Armed Forces, WW II’s Women Airforce Service Pilots, and borrowed Molly’s WASP uniform. (If you look closely you can see Fifinella, as drawn by Walt Disney, on the patch on my flight jacket. She was the WASP’s gremlin mascot who supposedly watched over them as they flew.)

The flight in a real fighter jet was exciting, to say the least. I wasn’t scared at all. (After all, Major Weeks has flown real combat missions with people shooting at her and usually flies upside down all day, so a trip cross country right side up was nothing!)

I couldn’t wait to see Miss K and the rest of the family again so I could tell them all about my trip. I didn’t have to wait long, since they were allowed to meet me out on the flight line. I know that, as excited as Miss K and her sisters were to welcome me home again when I reached Vance, they were even more excited to meet Major Weeks, who grew up in a military family just like theirs. Major Weeks gave Miss K a flag that flew with us in the cockpit for us to keep, so we have a wonderful souvenir of my flight. She was so sweet to the girls, and took the time to show them around her jet and explain how things work. We all got to have our picture taken with her, too, so be sure and take a look at my Thunderbird slideshow (which also has some really neat pictures of Major Weeks and the other Thunderbirds in action during the Vance Air Show, courtesy of the USAF. Thanks for letting me share them with everyone!).

Now that Miss K’s birthday party is over, I am off to RAF Mildenhall in England for the holidays. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm a star!

Rumour has it I'm a star! It seems an article on my travels has appeared on the Vance Air Force Base website, the Enid Buzz website and in the Vance base paper...with pictures! If you'd like to read it, to0, just cut and paste this link

My Georgia Pictures!

Georgia on my mind

Welcome to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, y’all!

Did you know that not only the base, but the entire town of Warner Robins, was named after an Army Air Corps General? No wonder it’s such a military friendly place! It's 16 hours south of Macon and just a few hours away from Atlanta…where there is an American Girl Boutique & Bistro! To say I was excited to get to visit here would be an understatement.

My visit with Maggie May and her family got off to a very exciting start; not soon after I arrived there was a tornado warning! Yep, a tornado was spotted just a few miles from Miss Maggie May’s house and was headed straight for us. Luckily, I knew just what to do (when you move to Oklahoma, you learn all about tornadoes) so we found the safest part of the house and sat down to wait for the all clear. I had a comfy pillow to sit on and good company so it wasn’t that scary. Soon the danger had passed (don’t worry, the nasty tornado didn’t do any damage) and we got to go back to playing.

A few days later we went to Atlanta to visit Maggie May’s grandma and grandpa (they are really, really nice) and made a stop at…you guessed it, the American Girl Boutique & Bistro! I got my hair done and it was totally worth the hour I had to wait. I enjoyed visiting with my fellow AG dolls, all of whom loved hearing about my adventures and my new friends all over the country. The poor things were well loved but not well traveled! I got a groovy new t-shirt you can only get at a AGB & B, too!

After the B & B, Maggie May, her little brother, her cousin and I rode the carousel. Driving back to Grandma’s, we saw a man on a really fancy motorcycle with a giant Spiderman doll sitting behind him – wearing a Viking helmet! Guess I’m not the only toy out seeing the country.

On Labor Day we went to the Douglasville Labor Day parade. I just love parades. I got a little teary eyed watching the troops in uniform march past; they all look so handsome and brave. I would have saluted (Miss K’s dad made sure all the girls at home know the proper way to salute…no sloppy salutes in our house!) but my arms just don’t bend that way so I had to settle for standing at attention. It was sprinkling but they still threw out candy to the spectators; I helped Maggie May and her brother collect a TON of candy. (Most of which Maggie May’s mom made us save for later. Nuts.) Needless to say, all three of us slept during the ride back home that afternoon.

I was lucky enough to get to go to school with Maggie May later that week. Wait just a sec…


There, I promised them I would do that. Anyway, I got to tell all the kids about my travels and stay for some lessons (they have a bathtub in the reading center – is that cool or what?). I ate lunch with the kids (I let Maggie May have the peanut butter sandwich – I’m not allowed to have peanut butter; according to Miss K’s mom, peanut butter and doll hair are a bad combination) but I snagged a bag of chips. Yum! Maggie May’s school has the BEST playground so recess was a blast! We went down the slide FAST and played on the swings. (We went really high even though I couldn’t help pump. GO MAGGIE MAY!)

Georgia is known for its peaches and pecans, which are shipped all over the world for people to eat. (And make into pecan pralines. And pecan pie. I love pecans!) Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the orchards where the peaches are grown (peach season ended a few weeks ago) but I did get to visit the Lane Packing Company and get my picture taken on a giant peach!

We visited downtown Macon, too, and I got to see the theater where Little Richard got his start - the same place Maggie May was crowned Little Miss Cherry Blossom last year. (Unfortunately, the crown was too big for me or I would have gotten a picture of me trying it on.) Since it was hot and humid (as it seems to be every day during the summer in Georgia!) we stopped for ice cream. I was very careful not to get any on my new shirt. (Which I wore just about every day because I LOVE IT! Shocking pink is definitely my colour.)

Of course I visited Robins Air Force Base, too, and saw lots of airplanes. Since Robins has the largest runway in all of Georgia, some ginormous planes go through there. I thought it was interesting that a lot of the base (almost a third) is a natural wetlands or timberlands, with magnolias, oaks, birds – even alligators! Oh, and Jess will be interested in finding out they have over 36 archaeological sites on the base, too…there was once a major Native American settlement where the base is now. Neat, huh?

Maggie May and her family had a good bye dinner for me and then, before I knew it, it was time to pack. I’ll miss everyone here so much – I had such a great time and really felt like one of the family. I even helped Maggie May’s baby brother learn to walk…seems little brothers will do anything to get to their sister’s dolls!

I’m headed home to Oklahoma for a quick visit before I head back out on my travels. The Vance Air Force Base Air Show is coming up October 4th and I don’t want to miss it! I promise to post pictures here so you can see how much fun it is.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Mississippi Pictures

One Mississippi...

When the time came for our family to leave Hawaii last year, we had a choice of two places to go: Vance Air Force Base or Keelser Air Force Base in Mississippi. Since Keesler was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina (which hit it full on in 2005 and practically leveled the base), we ended up going to Oklahoma. Since then, the Air Force and the local residents have dedicated themselves to rebuilding the base and making it better than ever; I was excited to get the chance to visit and see the results of all their hard work.

Miss Grace was waiting anxiously for me to arrive in Biloxi and she wasted no time in liberating me from my box! She had planned lots of fun stuff for us to do (after I rested a bit from my long trip, of course). First up, was a visit to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. Yes, Yogi, Cindy and Boo boo really live there and I can understand why after seeing all the fun things there are to do. They had camp grounds, pools, fishing, mini golf (okay, it wasn’t quite mini enough for me), volleyball, a theater, a playground, Bingo and my favorite thing of all…crafts! Grace helped me out so I managed to be creative and keep clean all at the same time! They have Jellystone Parks all over the country; if there is one near you, be sure to visit.

I got to see lots of Biloxi (including the WalMart, which made me kind of homesick since it looked just like ours) even though it rained and rained and rained. I especially enjoyed my long awaited trip to Keesler Air Force Base. In fact, I got to be honorary commander of the 336th Training Squadron, also known as the Red Wolves! (They have the coolest patch. I got my picture taken by the sign so you could all see it.) That was no easy job, either, since the 336th trains more than 6,000 students a year from all branches of the U.S. active duty and reserve military as well as civilians and military from overseas. It’s a job that requires lots and LOTS of coffee. (According to Miss K’s dad, everyone gets a ginormous coffee cup when they graduate from Command School.)

I was sad to leave Miss Grace and go on to Georgia but I left just in time – Hurricane Gustav is headed their way and this weekend families and non-essential personnel have been evacuated from Keesler. I will be watching the news and praying that all my new friends and everyone at the base and the surrounding area stays safe and weathers the storm. Please keep everyone in the path of the hurricane in your prayers!

About Me

Oklahoma, United States
Kealoha is an American Girl doll living happily with her family in Oklahoma. Since she belongs to a military family she is used to seeing new places and new people. It's been a year since we moved from Hawaii to Oklahoma and she is getting bored so she will be setting out soon to visit friends all over the country!