Monday was Memorial Day. I think we all remember that. It had been Fleet Week here in New York City and to be honest, I don't understand what "Fleet Week" means but I did hear that they were giving tours of a real live in-commission, functioning aircraft carrier so I headed down bright and early Monday morning to get one of the first tours of the day.
I know, kid, I know. What could be more boring than waiting to get on an aircraft carrier.
The name of the aircraft carrier is the Iwo Jima. It is an aircraft carrier for helicopters and harriers and is full of tanks and boats and hovercrafts but is not an aircraft carrier for jets. Let's just get that straight right now.
Here's the sailor that gave us our tour. Listen, let's put a positive spin on this: I am glad the members of our armed forces are busy defending our country and freedoms instead of practicing how to give tours.
Foreshadowing . . .
The tour mostly consisted of being walked to a vehicle, having the vehicle explained, and then being invited to have your picture taken with the Marines or sailors that had explained the vehicle. This is a giant, mine-proof truck.
A favorite stop: The howitzer. It fires 90 to 150 lbs shells some ridiculous distance (was it 7 kilometers or 17 kilometers?), is accurate within 10 meters of its targets at that maximum distance but who cares about that because the shells have a 50 yard kill radius and a 100 yard casualty radius (I don't know why they switched from meters to yards when destruction came into play but they did).
Once, when I was a real young kid, my Grandpa Taylor took me to something at the Rose Bowl where the military was there and they had guns and cannons out and Grandpa explained howitzers and rifling to me. I wonder if that was on a Memorial Day?
More touring, more vehicles.
See how those doors are open? Scouts stand up through holes behind them all on guard and stuff and if they need to hop out of the vehicle and take care of business they kick this lever with their feet and the doors swing open fast and they can slip out and regulate.
The Marine who taught us about the M1A1 Abrams talked so quietly that I didn't learn anything.
We went deeper inside the carrier and started learning about boats and hovercrafts.
How do they get these things out into the water? They just flood the inside of the carrier (note the wood floors in this area) and float them out.
Hovercraft! So much bigger than the GI Joe Killer Whale.
Aircraft Carrier tours: Holding guns fun for the whole family. And strangers, photographing your family for some reason. (I'm talking about that dude over there, not me).
Mini-gun. Fires 3000 rounds of ammo in a minute. If it has to.
Up to the flight deck.
This is an Osprey. It has VTOL capabilities (duh) and can fly at speeds of up to 300 mph (when those propellers face forward [duh]). We'll get back to it in a minute.
Here you can see that we were right by the Intrepid, that other aircraft carrier that I love.
Here's a harrier jet. Did you know it has to go into hover mode to land? I didn't.
These big kinds of helicopters are the fastest helicopters that there are. That's what they taught us. They also told us about how they're good at carrying things and rescuing and helping out.
Okay, Osprey time for real.
Come on! In America we don't have knights! Those are from our enemies, the British.
My favorite part of the whole tour was sitting in the Osprey, imagining I was on my way to a battlefield. Or remembering the drop ship scene from Aliens.
My squad members. We all go home or nobody goes home.
Over on the deck of the Intrepid they were having a Memorial Day ceremony.
Our last lesson was about when like planes crash on deck and they have to put out fires or rescue pilots or haul wreckage around.
Goodbye, Iwo Jima.
Oh wait, I forgot. There was another lesson about guns and stuff. Let me tell you, the marines really get into it when they talk about their favorite weapons.
Reminds me of my roommate Spencer.
This kid, I kid you not, was like asking every soldier if they played Modern Warfare.
Goodbye, Iwo Jima!
On the way out, a Humvee with one of those non-lethal light and sound blasters. They should have turned it on for a second, like when a police officer comes to the grade school and turns on the lights and siren once or twice.
After my trip to the aircraft carrier I met Chris and Carol at the Shake Shack because Patriotic Three Day Weekends mean there will be corn dogs at the Shake Shack (and it's a very good corn dog, too)! And I was hungry, so I had a shack burger too. That custard, though, they gave it to me for free. Not sure why. Just my lucky day, I guess.
Afters: Mister Softee.
And a bit of the park.