Smurfs Gone Green

The place where campers hang out after a long day in the sims.

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Post by Boomerang »

Natahniel i don't know if you know it or not but there are a few Sc counselors training with us as well. So there are some who got the oppurtunity obviously. We have a pretty diverse group in our training class. We have pilots, ex military, engineers, teachers and others.
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Post by CastAway »

Yeah, it is diverse. Very cool people, though.
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My point of view

Post by gordo »

All,

If you will allow me to claim a somewhat-disinterested-third-party perspective* I submit the following.

I was there in "the heyday" 10 years ago. I was part of the "Black Knights" I took pride in the fact that "We" did not need presenter staff to teach our kids, or that we got breaks when the camp trainees (not campers, trainees) were in a class. I was proud that we were trained to do it all and support ourselves. I was proud of the people I worked with and the culture we were part of. Need it? Don't have it? Go get it. I don't care where it came from, don't tell me. Just make it happen.

In many ways we thought of ourselves and idealized after every movie we had seen and thought fondly of: M*A*S*H, Full Metal Jacket, The Right Stuff, Heartbreak Ridge, Smokey and the Bandit and countless quotable others... Be advised, we were mean, nasty and tired...

We had our own, held our own, and supported our own. We were NOT counselors. We were Instructors. Fly a mission, get shot down or (if you're lucky) shoot down a Black Knight, let's debrief. What went right? What boneheaded move did you make? Why didn't you cover your wingman? Don't do it again. Dismissed.

Yes the kids had fun. And Heaven help them if they learned something because that made them better, agile and dangerous. Think about the mindset of the kids that enroll in AC. They're the ones that see pictures of free-sliding down a 40-something-foot cable into the water below, of hot-shot-fighter-pilots flying dangerous missions through some hostile territory, and of low crawling through briers and brush evading capture to fight another day. Shake down Lindbergh bay after lights out? Nothing to it. It's part of the show and magic that makes up AC. Its the mentality of the kids that come.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes all that has changed. Yes "management" clouded the camps with thoughts of being "ONE". After all, we're all part of one big happy family, right?

I agree with Joker and Rat. I believe we still have that idealized image of the way things should be. The way it would be if we ran things.

One thing I've learned over the past couple years* is that I have to be careful with those thoughts and my comments. As much as I love the program and camp itself, it is their time in the glory. I've had opportunity to meet former trainees (both mine and fellow counselors) who are now themselves living the dream and inspiring others. What I have learned is to be cognizant of constantly walking around "Well you know when I was here..." and "Back in the day we..." or "What you should do is..."

We're all one big happy family. That notion is true and I've seen both sides of the field work well together. That first and second summer ('96-'97) there was a great deal of animosity. (Anyone remember the "sensitivity" training and throwing paper airplanes at the lecturer?) Often times the pendulum swings hard one way or the other. After those summers I believe it swung hard. AC was in some ways pansified. The crew became "counselors" and just filled in.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Guys I want you to know that I think you would be proud of where things are now. I am sure you think my opinions are biased, which they may be, but if they are they are biased to the "way things were". I have seen the pirate mentality coming back. Need it? Don't have it? Go get it.

I had the opportunity this Thursday to watch this summer's crew of counselors, er Instructors, complete their training experience with their E&E exercise.

I'm telling you it was a flashback. I was standing off under the trees by the Harrier looking out towards the bubble. Everyone was "camied up" and gaggling around awaiting marching orders.

I swear I saw Joker and me standing there talking with Putz.

I have had a few occasions to see the new counselors and interact with them. I hereby accord them the semi-royal title of High Speed. I have been very impressed with their cohesion and heart.

I think you would be equally impressed with and hopefully see ourselves in their character. These are not the mamby pamby counselors you fear running things. The current class includes
  • 7 pilots, maybe more
  • a CFII (thankfully doesn't ramble too much)
  • an ATC in training (man he talks fast)
  • a by-God Vietnam era A-6 driver; remember Fighter pukes make movies, Attack pilots make History
  • a Top Gun graduate (same A-6 driver)
  • a strong contingent of ROTC cadets
  • a VATech Corp of Cadets member
  • a USAF LT
  • a retired USA Captain, prior enlisted (her last "official" callsign was "Blaze-6")
  • a Marine from Iraq (Semper Fi, carry on)
  • a mix of Aeronautical and Electrical engineers
I have seen this crew in action and they have all the qualities that I held dear in our own group. We were a team. We cared for the program and the effect it had on the trainees (kids). We wanted things to be better tomorrow than today. They "fit" with the program. They "get IT."

I believe I have seen our contemporary counterparts.

The program has changed, as has the software. Some of the cruft built up over the years is being shaken off and new activities are being added. The sims are a far cry from "SAIC F-16 Falcon Simulator" that was 10 years past its prime 10 years ago.

Guys, they have the heart and spirit and mindset. What mindset? "Every man a tiger." (If you don't understand, google OODA and start there.)



*Note: Those who know me know that I straddle a fine line. I have a long standing tie to the program with over 10 years of exposure either directly or through close personal friends. More so, I now have a direct link to the program as the "side-kick" of Red-Bull, aka AC-6, aka my wife. Can I be impartial, unbiased? Hell no. But believe you me, She and I have had many arguments over how camp "should be", and I there are often times I agree whole-heartedly with her. In essence, these are merely my opinions, and as a wise philosopher once said, "Opinions are like ***holes, everyone has one."

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Post by des »

Well I was never insulted for doing something dumb, which I'm sure happened, but I did feel that the AC was a little more serious, on the instructional side than Space Academy. (This was the adult program.)
I felt the quality of the program was a little better in terms of staff, and the staff seemed a little more comfortable working with adults.
But as to which I liked better, I am more into space. But I did feel that AC connected everything much better.

--des
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Post by 82ATW »

Being another one from 10 years ago, and being one of the first to work both programs. I spent a summer working AC days and camp nights. To me, the hardest transition to make each day, was the one thing you can't teach counselors in the classrooms, the attitude. I was lucky, I had witnessed the AC way as shown by some of the best Doolittle, Grunt, and Chief. Even better I got to learn from the master of master, Jerry.

In my mind, it isn't about learning the educational requirements of 2 programs; it is about the type of people hired to begin with. So with the description Gordo gave of the present class--I think the programs will be fine. It makes proud that on Armed Forces Day, I was selling a high speed, hard core program that still exists, even if it is a little different than the one I remember.
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Post by des »

Funny thing, but I am, well not exactly a pacifist but I am not at all into the military or that sort of thing, but I am very interested in flight. The shooting part of AC wasn't too interesting to me, but there was a lot more to it than that. I even have pictures of myself in the F4 (or whatever it is) that used to be on the grounds.

--des
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Post by Boomerang »

Well shooting is part of the program afterall it is a military aviation experiance. We were told early on in training that we are teaching trainees what its like to be fighter pilots not civilian pilots.

And the F-4 is still there.
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Post by ACluvR »

I don't get why people make this big deal about AC and how military is. It's gone so civilian over the last 7 years or so anyways. No more morning PT, no more true T-Ops... and I know the list goes on. One thing in my opinion is that most shuttle pilots are military pilots, so that connects it somehow. Plus Pyro went Smurf to Green... I remember my second time Mach 3 Christmas camp he was rattling off shuttle facts on the way up top. Ultimately counselors choose to cross over and they could have quit. I also think if you're really not into AC your cheating out campers by being there. I've only had one bad counselor, X-Mas camp one year, she didn't even finish off the week. At least fake it for the campers. AC rocks my socks off... I like Space Camp too. Their just very different, thank GOD!!!!
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Post by des »

I don't think the adult programs ever got into some of the stuff the kids did-- the morning exercises and so on. I think they were smart. I don't think I cheated anybody by being there. I loved 98% of the camp program, and that would compare to how much l liked of SC. In fact, I heard many adults, esp females, say similar type things.
OTOH, if this was on the counselor forum that statement might be different. I wasn't a counselor though.

Besides the flight simulators, I loved the slide wire and so forth, though I was scared witless about getting up there on the tower. But then as I was going down I couldn't imagine why I was so scared as it was a blast. I also liked all the other water stuff a lot.

At one time, all astronauts were military test pilots. I think that link will disappear in time to an historic one. I think there has been a woman commander of the Shuttle. She may have flown for the military, I don't know, but she didn't fly in combat (though I guess these days flying in combat or not but be less meaningful than it once was).

The instructors were all military guys for some reason, and they were all wonderful.


--des

ACluvR wrote:I don't get why people make this big deal about AC and how military is. It's gone so civilian over the last 7 years or so anyways. No more morning PT, no more true T-Ops... and I know the list goes on. One thing in my opinion is that most shuttle pilots are military pilots, so that connects it somehow. Plus Pyro went Smurf to Green... I remember my second time Mach 3 Christmas camp he was rattling off shuttle facts on the way up top. Ultimately counselors choose to cross over and they could have quit. I also think if you're really not into AC your cheating out campers by being there. I've only had one bad counselor, X-Mas camp one year, she didn't even finish off the week. At least fake it for the campers. AC rocks my socks off... I like Space Camp too. Their just very different, thank GOD!!!!
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Post by Boomerang »

Well due to the flying requirements for pilot astronauts it essentially requires them to be military or test pilots due to the number of flying hours required. As for eileen collins she was an Air Force Pilot and women routinely fly combat missions in the military. Its one of the few combat roles women are allowed to be in that are considered direct combat and not someone who ends up there due to the circumstances of war. heck even the thunderbirds have a woman pilot this year.

as for T-ops believe me plenty of it still goes on and new stuff has been added. I never thought the ground combat stuff belonged at AC not for a program geared toward ilitary aviation but from what i have seen in training it seems like a great program and alot of fun. Many things have changed at AC whether for better or worse i guess is in the eyes of the beholder but programs have to change to keep people coming back and to keep it intresting. And beieve me there is plenty this summer to do so.

When i went to Ac as a trainee we didnt have PT or t-ops but it was still a great program. PT came back later and T-ops as added as well. Oh and one military element to AC that was there when i went and later dissapearred has returned we are once again doing drill competitions this year. Believe me anyone coming to AC will have a great summer.
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Post by ACluvR »

Wow... that's cool they started drill competitions again. I remember those. I was never very good. I am too old for AC now and only can do the adult one... But I'm hoping it will still be around 15 years from now so I can send my own kids eventually. I think the ground military stuff is important... and its taught to pilots... Plus its fun. Although I hate how hot Alabama is and sometimes I would dream of watching an IMAX instead of patrolling when it was like over 100 outside, lol.
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Post by des »

I guess women do have combat positions because they are definitely in direct harm's way, even though in theory they aren't combat. Haha, they got around that little problem. Very strange! There isn't much dog fighting anyway. I didn't know there was a woman in the Thunderbirds. As I understand it this is quite an honor.

BTW, I think the reason it is military based is:
a. the comment re the military pilots in NASA.
b. I think the planes are more interesting. I think flying a jumbo jet or something would be more or less kind of dull. IMO, the neatest thing was doing night landings on the aircraft carriers. They also can do all the water stuff that everyone loves. It can also be more rigorous.
(Of course, I flew a Cesna once, and thought it was one of my biggest adventures ever-- but that was a real plane.)

I am still looking forward to any AC stuff at the Alumni camp (not sure what exactly is going on, but I sure hope we do the slide wire!! :-)
Now I would all be looking forward to it and not scared as heck.

BTW, speaking of the Cesna above, does anybody recall when they had a real flight component to AC?? It was not required and you payed a LOT extra, much more than if you go to an aviation school and just get a intro lesson. (I don't know what an intro lesson costs these days.But I thought it was quite steep at the time vs $25-50 for an intro lesson at a flight school back in the day-- of course planes ran on rubber bands. LOL!)

I hopefully might just run into you for Alumni week?


--des

Boomerang wrote:Well due to the flying requirements for pilot astronauts it essentially requires them to be military or test pilots due to the number of flying hours required. As for eileen collins she was an Air Force Pilot and women routinely fly combat missions in the military. Its one of the few combat roles women are allowed to be in that are considered direct combat and not someone who ends up there due to the circumstances of war. heck even the thunderbirds have a woman pilot this year.

as for T-ops believe me plenty of it still goes on and new stuff has been added. I never thought the ground combat stuff belonged at AC not for a program geared toward ilitary aviation but from what i have seen in training it seems like a great program and alot of fun. Many things have changed at AC whether for better or worse i guess is in the eyes of the beholder but programs have to change to keep people coming back and to keep it intresting. And beieve me there is plenty this summer to do so.

When i went to Ac as a trainee we didnt have PT or t-ops but it was still a great program. PT came back later and T-ops as added as well. Oh and one military element to AC that was there when i went and later dissapearred has returned we are once again doing drill competitions this year. Believe me anyone coming to AC will have a great summer.
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Post by CastAway »

des - do you mean the old You Can Fly program? I remember they had it for the first year I did Academy as an option, and I was very disappointed when my parents had passed by the opportunity figuring I could do it another year... only for them to cancel it the next summer!



Someone mentioned PT... I was very disappointed when I heard they had canceled even the optional PT... I was going to volunteer to lead it, because I needed it!
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Post by des »

Yes, that sounds right. If you want to really fly, and can't afford pilot's lessons, go find a pilot school. I think they would still have a single Intro to Flight lesson. It's very cool. You do a check thru with the pilot; s/he explains some things then you participate in everything including taking the controls (though I didn't do the pedals). It was expensive but worth it. I think it actually counts towards flight hours (?) should you remember to keep track of it, have a record of it, etc. I flew in an old Cesna. It is just sad that these aren't made anymore, as this is a great plane and sought after for certain types of things like search and rescue as you have a very good view out of the windows. This is the plane with the wing up on a bracket, for lack of the right term.

--des
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Post by Joker »

des wrote:I flew in an old Cesna. It is just sad that these aren't made anymore, as this is a great plane and sought after for certain types of things like search and rescue as you have a very good view out of the windows. This is the plane with the wing up on a bracket, for lack of the right term.
Since I actually do some of that search flying in Cessnas, I should point out that the Cessna 172 just celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is still in production in Independence, Kansas (along with the Cessna 182 and 206).

The high-wing piston single Cessnas now come standard with Garmin glass cockpits, just like the big boys.

And they're still fun to fly!

If anyone's interested, the "intro flight" folks are discussing is talked about in detail at http://www.beapilot.com-- it's called a "discovery flight" and is priced differently at different flight schools.

You can check out flight schools in your area with a directory at BeAPilot.com. I urge anyone interested in flight training to look up the site.
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Post by tennisrox014 »

I'm working on my pilot's license right now! Jagsvolleyball here at hab1 is also working on her pilot's license.

I flew in a 172 w/a glass cockpit the other day!

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Post by Boomerang »

Well the old you can fly program had 2 parts. One was time behind the controls of an aircraft or performing experiments depending on what age gropup you were. The other was an Ac program called Sky Warriors where you could fly laser tag simulated combat in actual aircraft.
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Post by Sandrat »

Sky Warriors was awesome. The aircraft flown were T-34B trainer aircraft utilized by the Navy for primary flight training. Many counselors had the opportunity to fly those aircraft in the program as well.

That was a reward for counselor of the week for Intermediate / Mach III Counselors as well as others in the program. I know Spanky flew a couple of times, Joker as well.

I still have my video - the infamous shot of Uncle Ed in the backseat pulling out the sectional map with me in command of the aircraft as we prepped to buzz the Guntersville Airport cracks me up everytime. If only the trainee I was supposed to fly against hadn't thrown up violently....

Glad he had to clean out the cockpit....
Last edited by Sandrat on Thu May 31, 2007 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jagsvolleyball14 »

yep i am.... i just soloed cross country!![/img][/code]
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Post by des »

This is great about the Cesna. I had heard they were going out of business due to insurance claims against them. They used to be in Wichita KS, so maybe they moved or perhaps were bought out (Independence is near Kansas City).

Yes, the "Be a Pilot" thing is basically what I did, all I did, since I would be medically unable to get a license. Also I don't know of many teachers who could afford it anyway. Oh well, I may do that pilot thing again. Though I am itching to go on a balloon ride (also pricey).

--des
Joker wrote:
des wrote:I flew in an old Cesna. It is just sad that these aren't made anymore, as this is a great plane and sought after for certain types of things like search and rescue as you have a very good view out of the windows. This is the plane with the wing up on a bracket, for lack of the right term.
Since I actually do some of that search flying in Cessnas, I should point out that the Cessna 172 just celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is still in production in Independence, Kansas (along with the Cessna 182 and 206).

The high-wing piston single Cessnas now come standard with Garmin glass cockpits, just like the big boys.

And they're still fun to fly!

If anyone's interested, the "intro flight" folks are discussing is talked about in detail at http://www.beapilot.com-- it's called a "discovery flight" and is priced differently at different flight schools.

You can check out flight schools in your area with a directory at BeAPilot.com. I urge anyone interested in flight training to look up the site.
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