Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nellis - Home of the Fighter Pilot

I just got home from a 1-month trip to the U.S. for some pre-deployment training. The trip was fantastic. I got to fly an F-16 across the Atlantic (twice), fly low over the desert, drop lots of bombs, and interact with the dudes on the ground who we'll be supporting when we go downrange.

Curt, my crew chief for this flight, poses in front of three 500 lb inert bombs I dropped on this sortie.  In our month of training, our squadron dropped over 300,000 lbs of munitions.

With so many Californians that see this site, I hesitate to mention the destruction the 202 bomblets released from this weapon can cause.  I dropped it in the middle of the desert and it made a huge blanket of fireworks on the sand.

The laser-guided GBU-12 goes where I point the laser.  Smart little fella.

Illumination rockets.  These things are cool cuz they light up a huge area on the ground as they parachute to the earth, but the effects can only be seen when wearing night vision goggles (NVG).  With the naked eye it just looks dark, but put on the NVGs and there's enough light to illuminate a landing zone for a helicopter.


Red Rocks

We had a few hours to go explore Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is a climber's paradise in the winter.  We didn't have gear with us, so we just explored Icebox Canyon on foot.

Cyber learns that the descent is always less fun than the summit.

Sandstone layers

Sin City

Las Vegas amazes me every time I visit. It's different than anywhere I've ever been...and all the action happens in the microcosm that is The Strip.  Where else do you find a $5 billion hotel, roller coasters, caged lions, all-night partying, great food, terrible food and (most of all), an amazing amount of excess?  Only in Vegas.

I ventured out with my camera one afternoon to capture these shots.

The new City Center is a $15 billion project with hotels and shopping.  As one of my buddies said, "It's like going into the future."


After two weeks in Vegas, we changed venues to something slightly colder and snowier.  Hill AFB, just north of Salt Lake City, would be our home for 2 weeks of flying.

We also snagged some hiking and skiing/snowboarding in our spare time.

Khan stands at the base of a 200 ft waterfall near Ogden Canyon.

The Canyons newest chairlift has heated seats and the "bubble"

Self portrait

Shredding the gnar


Cassy went to Amsterdam for almost a week.  Her husband was extremely jealous.

The Ice Bar

Heineken anyone?  Straight from the source.

The group at the Heineken factory

A goal on this table is kind of a big deal.

Girls Night in Venice

It's pretty nice to be able to hop on a train and go to Venice for a girls' night.

Jennifer, Cassy, and Pam


Lola, Pam, Tracy, Catherine, Jennifer, and Cassy

San Marino

I didn't even know San Marino, an independent enclave in Italy, existed until Cassy went there for a day trip.  It's a country just over 24 square miles with a population of 30,000 people.