Operation Leprechaun Parts 1&2
August third, the day we had been dreading since our arrival 9 days earlier.
We were fortunate enough to have a little sleep in this morning and wake up call was at 8am. Usually 12 teenagers would be screeching to get out of bed at 8am but after our week of early mornings and busy days it was definitely nothing to complain about. We all knew today was the day we had to depart from our new home of Ambition and everyone’s emotions were running high.
After the hectic last minute packing this morning, we headed down to the Mess deck for breakfast where we were thrilled to see 60 Krispy Kreme doughnuts waiting for us. Each AXP was eligible for 5 doughnuts but only the very brave AXPs managed to eat all 5.
After our heavenly breakfast we went back up to our staterooms to say goodbye to our beds and grabbed our luggage to bring downstairs to the lobby. Our time schedule was running smoothly so we were able to go across the road to the Museum of Naval Aviation one last time. All 12 AXPs made a pit stop to the gift shop at the museum to buy some last minute presents for our friends and family back home.
We browsed around the museum for a little while to look at our favourite exhibits one more time before we would have to leave. At 11.45 we met back at Ambition and the thought of having to leave became a reality. The car was packed, the people were crying and the experience was about to end. The last 9 days were unforgettable but the
main thing we learned was that once you know how to fly, the sky is no longer the limit. All 12 AXPs really treasured our time aboard Ambition and were so thankful for the time we spent, friends we met and the people who had invested in us.
Memories are special, they last forever in your mind. When we stepped into the NFA minivan for the last time this morning, our biggest fear was forgetting what it feels like to be there, in the strong humid air of Pensacola with these 11 other people we can now call our bestfriends. Every other time we were in the van together we were laughing and singing, sharing stories of the silly things our room mates had done the night before. This time was different though, there was a sad vibe in the air. We have had the most amazing, once in a lifetime experience this week and we will never forget it.
When we reached the airport everyone stepped out of the van and gathered their luggage. Masterchief and Melody then walked us to the check in desks. That’s when it became real that we were actually leaving. We checked in, got our boarding cards and said our last minute thank you’s.
We then made our way through security and up to the gates. We thought we weren’t going to have any time to eat anything or look in the one shop in the airport but thankfully we had just over an hour. We sat down at a small restaurant and had lunch. At about 1410, Domhnall came down to tell us the gates were open and we had to board.
The flight to Charlotte was only one hour long but as soon as we stepped off the plane we were rushed over to the gate for boarding to Dublin. The airport was absolutely packed. We had about five minutes to make a head call (go to the bathroom) and get some snacks for the plane.
We got on the plane, put our bags overhead and found our seats. After a little while we were told by the captain that the plane was delayed. Nobody really minded this because we were all spread around the plane and we got to spend more time together. From then on we cherished every second we could get to spend together. It’s not going to be as simple as that very soon.
When we first met up in Galway Education Centre, we met 11 other girls and guys from around Galway. It was very awkward and we were scared that that wouldn’t change. Now, almost one month later, after meetings, a trip to Shannon and an amazing trip to Florida, we have made life long friends. I can honestly say that we are some of the luckiest people to have been chosen and invested in by Galway Education Centre.
On behalf of all the Irish AXP’s I would like to say a massive thank you to Kate, Paddy, Maeve, all the staff at NFA, Galway Education Centre and everyone who had any part to play in sending us on this once in a life time opportunity.
I heart Roadrunner
Louise Hosty(AKA Cabbage)
Highlights from Days 5 and 6
Check out the highlights from our last two days on board Ambition as Aviator of the Future Ambassadors for Galway Education Centre, Ireland for 2013.
Today was our last full day in America! Most importantly it was our graduation. We woke up at 6:30 for the last time for a while! Well after our last breakfast with our squadrons it was time say good-bye.
Of course the Irish did this uniquely by performing our own performance of River Dance! Luckily the Americansdid not know what the real River Dance performance is, so they were not let down by our atrocious dancing skills!
With that, it was time to head on over to our first American Graduation! It was so exciting!
With all our certificates and our wings it was time to say our final goodbyes and return to an all Irish squadron. After a beautiful lunch out in a local restaurant we came back to Ambition and got ready to go to the beach!
Well after 3 hours of non stop swimming, body boarding and fun it was time to head home. We may have been upset, other than the fact that we had more shopping to attend to!
After another 2 hours of going through Hollister, Aeropostale, and many other shops picking up last minute presents for family members (and for ourselves!) we went for more food!
After 2 hours of going through memories from the week it was time to go to bed. The girls are now are trying to fit all their clothes in their suitcases! We will let everyone known if this is possible when we touch down in Ireland on Sunday!
This morning was our last full day on Ambition and what an exciting one it was too! We woke up to blue skies and a shining sun… just kidding it was actually stormy and raining but we didn’t let that put us off (after all we do come from the land of rain!) We had a busy schedule planned out for the day and our first stop was in the Mess Deck for breakfast. When we arrived we were thrilled and delighted to see some Blue Angel pilots and crew sitting at our squadron tables. After sharing our morning meal with us the Blue Angels then talked to us about their different jobs, being in the U.S. Navy and pursuing dreams. It was a truly inspiring speech and we’re all in awe of what they do!
After breakfast all twelve of the Irish Ambassadors plus some American students headed up to the Ready Room to be interviewed. Everybody else on Ambition took a look around the Naval Aviation Museum until about 12:00. While we were waiting to be interviewed we went over our next mission.
The day before we had been instructed to plan out a cross country route anywhere within a 500nm radius of Ambition. Everybody had it all planned out until we got to the Ready Room where the Irish Ambassadors decided that it yould be absolutely amazing if we could fly to Ireland! After getting the all clear from OPSO O’ Rear we started planning it all out with some help from other Chiefs.
By lunchtime we were all psyched for our exciting mission, until we were hit with devastating news. A cruise liner named Tropicana had crashed into an oil tanker on the Gulf of Mexico and 2317 peoples’ lives were in danger. We ran to our work stations and immediately began planning our rescue mission. There were people to save, pumps to deliver, fires to put out, chemicals to be neutralised and injuries to be treated so we were on the go all day long. I enjoyed every minute of the mission but the most rewarding part was when we were informed at 21:30 that every single person onboard the Tropicana had been rescued! It has been a really great experience here so far and I’m looking forward to tomorrows graduation!!
by Erin Shimizu
Highlights Day 3 & 4 on Ambition
Days three and four have been fun! Check out all of hard work in this video! The Irish Aviator of the Future Ambassadors have been busy!
Ambassadors make it to 4 days!!
Today marked the AXPs 4th day aboard the USS Ambition. It was also our second last full day before graduation and was a very exciting and eventful day which was obviously to the AXP’s delight. Our day started as usual with the daily morning call at 0630, which some of us still haven’t gotten used to, and our breakfast on the Mess Deck with the other squadrons.
Following breakfast each squadron had squadron time where we talked with our chiefs and discussed some basics of skills of land survival. This subject was further discussed in detail when we went to the Land Survival Centre on the naval base in Pensacola. Here, Master Chief Curley explained to us about the various requirements we should adhere to in the misfortunate situation of finding ourselves deserted! He also showed us how to light fires in the wild and find water. It was so much more complex than I thought!!
After this trip to the Land Survival centre we returned to base on Ambition. Unfortunately the bus on the way home did not have air-conditioning! When we arrived back onboard the Ambition we crossed the gangway where we met Kate, Paddy and Maeve. We had a short “catch up” before we left again.
This time we went to a class on the importance of the weather to aviation. We had meteorologist John O’Hara brief us about this. We also predicted what tomorrows’s weather will be like. The team who got it right got to eat first at lunch so the pressure was on! After that we went to the JIC where we planned the Eglin fly-by mission with IO Wilson before lunch.
It was time for another off-shore trip after lunch, this time it was to the Blue Angel’s hangar on base. This was such an amazing experience. Here we met with all of the crew in the world renowned Blue Angel’s squadron. We met with everyone from the engineers to the administration team and even saw a few pilots!! At the end of the tour we got the chance to come face to face with the F-18 jets. It was amazing to see them all at work!
We resumed our usual positions after that on ambition, flying the Triads, planning missions and working in ATC. At first we were controlling the Argonauts in the JOC before we took the reigns ourselves in the triads!! This mission was one of our toughest missions to date. It involved flying in formation, and not just normally!! We did it in front of cameras! However in the end the Maces came out on top!
We got up from dinner and immediately headed for the JIC where we planned one of our last missions, a cross country flight to anywhere within 500 miles of Ambition! Our next task was to control and fly another mission, the Tampa air rally! This was a competition between all squadrons and we are currently awaiting results!!
It was then time for freetime!! AXPs could then play a game of air hockey or stay in their staterooms before lights out at 2300!!
Slán go fóill!
Eoin Corcoran (AKA Spud)