On Thursday, I was part of a group of local business and community leaders who participated in a “Distinguished Visitor” embark to the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier currently en route to the Western Pacific. (More here.) The experience was incredible, almost indescribable, leaving me awed, exhausted, and immensely grateful. Not merely for the opportunity to visit the carrier, but for everything the men and women of the U.S. Navy and our armed forces do. I’m still processing everything we saw, experienced and learned, but first up, I put together a video of our amazing day. You can view it in HD on Vimeo or Facebook, or download it from Blip.TV. An abridged version is also available on YouTube.
Note that the two most physically intense and mind-blowing moments of the tour could not be documented on camera. Our arrival on, and departure from, the flight deck aboard the “COD” (a C-2 Greyhound cargo plane) was incredible. We experienced an “arrested landing” (dragged to a stop by cables bringing us from 120 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds), and a “catapult launch” (hurled off the deck, accellerating from zero to 120 m.p.h. in three seconds). I’m still trying to find the words to describe it for my forthcoming full trip report.
I should also mention that experiencing flight operations on the deck of the carrier was so overwhelming, I only realized upon returning home that I’d messed up half of my video footage. In the chaos of bone-rattling launches and bright sunlight, I’d lost track of when I was recording and when I wasn’t. As impressive as it was to watch half a dozen jet fighters launch off the deck in a matter of minutes, I only had footage of my feet on the deck between each takeoff.
Oh well. At least I got it sorted out in time for the landings. Those were, in many ways, even more amazing.
I recorded the video with a basic, $150 Kodak Zi6 camera. While my Sanyo Xacti HD700 is a much better device, it wouldn’t have lasted half a day. The Kodak Zi6 runs on AA batteries (I brought a bag of ‘em) and records to SDHC cards (I used two 4GB cards). Finally, this is the longest HD video I’ve put together yet, clocking in at over 12 minutes and over 430 megabytes. It took about six hours to render, and over two hours to upload. I just noticed I missed a couple of transitions, but I don’t think I’m going to start over again.
This video is long, in part, because I wanted to share as many faces and voices as I could, including HM3 Erika Clawson and AS2 Yancy Zuniga, two young people from Hawaii who serve aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. This is just a tiny record of the huge experience I was fortunate to have, simply because I’m a blogger and life-long geek. There are many more stories to tell… but that was the whole idea of this outreach program by the U.S. Navy. Stay tuned.
Special thanks are due to Bill Doughty (Chief of Internal Information, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs), LTJG Theresa Donnelly (Community Relations Director, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs), Capt. W. Scott Gureck (Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Pacific Fleet), Lt. Cmdr. Geoff Stow, Capt. Ken Norton, Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, and Lt. Ron Flanders (U.S.S. Ronald Reagan Public Affairs).