Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sitting on top of the world

Now that I've adopted and been adopted by the Aviation Battalion here, I've begun spending a lot of time in the rather large aircraft hangars here on Post. Then-SFC McG and I did a lot of travel around the Multinational Division - Baghdad (MND-B) battlespace when we were in Iraq together before I came to Kosovo, and while I got to know a few of the aviators (because they came to Masses I celebrated), I didn't really come to know much about Army Aviation.

I've been warmly welcomed by the pilots, crew chiefs, and maintenance personnel in the various Companies which make up my new Battalion. It's been a delight thus far to get to know them, and they've kept me busy!

Recently, one on my new friends, a crew chief (in Iraq, they were the gunners), invited me to climb on top of a helicopter as he was doing his daily inspection of the aircraft. This was something I certainly never expected myself to be doing, and given my acrophobia, was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I developed a great appreciation for the power and reliability of those aircraft when I was in Iraq because I flew so many religious support missions on them. The chance to look under the skin of one of them, to see how things work, was intriguing, and I jumped at it, despite my fear of heights.

I felt pretty awkward up there, on top of that bird, and quite afraid I'd do something to damage the equipment. It felt weird climbing over one of the huge rotor blades, not least because of my poor old arthritic hips, and having been told to be careful not to break one instrument up there in particular.

That hurdle surmounted (quite literally), I was able to peer inside the inner workings of the various engines and pipes and circuitry which enable the helicopter to take off, fly, and land safely.

That morning again, as has so often been the case over the past three and a half years, I found myself wondering, "How can it be that I find myself here in this place at this time?"

God has a weird sense of humor.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ
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