Colorado Air National Guard Gives Thanks to its Spouses
By Technical Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf, 140th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 24, 2009
9/21/09 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- On September 15th through the 20th the Colorado Air National Guard (COANG) conducted its first ever Spouse Orientation Flights. Spouses of the COANG were given an opportunity to fly in a C-21 from the 200th Airlift Squadron across the state of Colorado.
More than 50 husbands and wives spent this week receiving a stronger appreciation of what it means to be a part of the COANG. However that wasn't the intent of this first ever program. This was meant to be a small token of appreciation for all the support they have given the COANG during past years with several deployments.
Spouses were given a chance to sign up for flights at the Family Day events last August.
Liz Rohrer said that she was asked by her husband if she wanted to fly in one of the C-21's. "I was excited and have been looking forward to this opportunity ever since then."
Twice a day flights took off from Buckley Air Force Base and flew over some of the most recognizable places in Colorado. Flying at about 14,200 feet, passengers were able to see Pikes Peak as if they were a bird soaring over its beautiful mountain top.
"I remember going to the top of Pikes Peak as a child but being able to see the top from a completely different view was absolutely amazing," stated Melissa Danielson, whose husband works for the 140th Wing Services Flight.
In just a few short minutes, they saw the Royal Gorge in a way that would leave an impression on their minds for the rest of their lives. While looking at the gorge they found themselves in tight turns feeling positive gravity forces that helped them relate to what if feels like to be an Air Force pilot.
"My husband, who has been in the back seat of a couple F-16 flights, has told me what it's like to feel positive and negative "G" forces. As I tried to photograph the Royal Gorge, I felt like my camera just gained 30 pounds when our pilots made a hard turn. Now I can somewhat relate to what he was talking about," said Rebecca Stumpf.
With the site seeing behind them, the COANG had one more treat in store. As four F-16 Falcons from the 120th Fighter Squadron pulled up on the C-21's wing tips, they would truly be in a place that most people only read and dream about. In what most have said to be the best part of the trip, the COANG spouses were able to see each F-16 pilot as they exchanged waves and took pictures from just mere feet away.
Denise Meika, whose husband was flying one of the F-16's just outside her window, said, "Getting to see my husband right there was surreal and almost seamed fake. I really appreciate everyone that came together to do this, and not just the pilots. I know that there were a lot of people involved in this and it was really great!"
After returning back to Buckley AFB, it was clear that they got much more than a simple "Thank You" but instead an experience like none other that has left a strong sense of pride for their husbands and wives serving in the Colorado Air National Guard.
Paula Tootle who flew on one of the last flights given said, "Not very many people have been given the opportunity to feel and see or even experience something like this and it really gives you an appreciation for what they (the COANG) do for the defense of our country. Thank You."