I enjoyed it, but there were some issues with all this.
First, the graduation was so fast, I think it was done in less time than it took me to type this sentence. No wings being pinned on, they just handed you the envelope and there's the door.
The trainers were very ill-prepared for such a small group.
We also had numerous
large gaps between events, because the trainers weren't ready and we were such a small group we completed stuff much faster than most groups do. We could have ended early many nights but instead had to hang around the museum area waiting for the next event.
They also had us segregate our trash, uneaten food and all liquids into big containers. All the teams were doing it, and we were tracking who generated the most waste. Frankly, if it wasn't so funny, it'd been embarrassing.
I just feel like each year I've gone, it's gotten more Spartan.
I decided to bag on the HAB and go for the Marriott all week, an excellent choice!
The full day before, I went to various places around Huntsville (including a small but excellent veterans museum which I strongly recommend if you're into that). Most of all, I was trying to get shots of a train passing in front of the Saturn V. Other people in years past had gotten great shots but those locations are now closed off to trees and fences.
When I checked in, my pal Spence from 'Hoot Camp 2016' was on the small (8 guy) team. Spence is a good guy, so I was glad of that. The rest of the team was small but all were decent guys. We had two guys from Ireland and a guy from Thailand (who turned out to be an airliner pilot but didn't talk much).
We didn't do a lot of things we normally would. No mission patch (Darn it), no Marshall tour as three out of eight of us weren't US citizens, and some other things just never happened.
I was Flight Director for the LDM (only three hours) but got the CDR slot for a one-hour in Enterprise early in the week. My landing was just fine.
Did the usual Area 51 courses including the zip line, AC for the flight sims and did the dive tank. I didn't do the dive tank nor the centrifuge as my sinuses were killing me at the time.
The rocket launch with egg payload went comically. The nosecone design protected the egg but the chute never opened. It was the first time an egg survived on a rocket I helped to build there!
We did a rover challenge that was funny, using craft sticks, cardboard and such...
There was a module attached to the back of the Endeavour in the Astrotech building I'd never seen before. They told us it'd been a trainer for a real one that never got sent to the ISS.
Graduation was anti-climactic. They didn't even pin our wings on. It made us a little aggravated as they'd told us it would be at 9AM but moved it back 2 hours. This meant that two of the guys on our team wouldn't be there as they'd made plans to leave before that. We used the same seats that a massive group of kids had just gone through, so it felt odd to be in a large area of open seats at the Davidson Center:
My pal Steve came out for the graduation, though. Always great to see him!
After graduation, here I am with John, Pawdrig (both from Ireland) and my old pal Steve after lunch at the Marriott
But all in all, a great week to be sure!