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Heloise On The Road: San Antonio

Heloise receives a framed photo of her by the T-38 Talon she and Lt. Colonel Bob Otto (the pilot) just flew in moments before. Randolph AFB.

Lt. Colonel Mike Cruse (USAF Ret) greeting his daughter Heloise after her flight in a T-38 Talon.

Randolph Air Force Base, Texas

A T-38 Talon supersonic jet airplane is a lot faster than my car! When I was offered a ride in a United States Air Force T-38 Talon, I said "yes, sir" faster than fitting into a flight suit.

My daddy, Mike Cruse (Lt. Colonel USAF Retired), now deceased, was a pilot and my husband David is a hot-air balloon pilot, so I asked if they could come along to watch me. The wonderful people at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, said, "yes, we always welcome one of our own home."

My father "got his wings" at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio in 1942, so this was truly a special event. When I was a young child, my mother would take us out to the air base to see Daddy land when he coming home from a trip. It was now my turn to salute him from the cockpit and get a hug and kiss plane side after a safe landing.

Lt. Col. Bob Otto (call sign Ottomatic), who at the time was the commander of the 560th Flying Training Squadron Chargin' Cheetahs, was my pilot and a darn good one! The preflight "egress training" was thorough, including practicing getting out of a simulator, and being "ejected" from a training seat— just in case the need arose.

The fun part was being fitted with a G-suit, which helps prevent the blood from rushing away from your head (so you don't black out), during some of the thrilling multi-G maneuvers. The G-suit fits like chaps from the waist down—on top of the flight suit.

While the G-suit was being adjusted, the two airmen doing the work kept pulling a little tighter, and a little tighter and asking, "is that too tight?" Try to envision the scene in the movie Gone with the Wind, where Scarlett O'Hara is being tightened into the waist cincher. I said, "Gentlemen, you are talking to a woman, who wears control-top panty hose all day long, how tight does it need to be?"

Heloise is thinking, "How tight must this G-suit be?"

Heloise in full flight gear, G-suit and parachute included, being "ejected" from the simulator.

After an awesome hour ride, which included flying over my hometown San Antonio, and getting to do an authorized fly-by of the control tower at San Antonio International Airport, we zoomed in for a perfect landing. My daddy and David met me plane side. I gave a big thank-you kiss to Ottomatic and was ready to go up again! That was the cleanest plane I think I have ever been in—not a speck of dust anywhere. Maybe the maintenance crew can teach me a thing or two!

Here is a thought: When you see a military plane flying overheard, think about all the people who make it possible. I salute each and every one, who do their job day-in and out. We can't all be pilots or CEOs without the preflight work and help from the worker bees, who make the hive buzz.

My heartfelt thanks to all at Randolph Air Force Base, who helped get me into the air, and down again safely.

Heloise gives Ottomatic a thank-you kiss for a thrilling high-flying flight at Randolph AFB, home of the 560th Chargin' Cheetahs.



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