Stairway to Heaven



The Boeing CH-47 Chinook Flight Deck.
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          The Test Flight



             Imagine, if you will, two Lycoming T55-L712 roman candles, with outer cases constructed of depleted uranium - each capable of delivering in excess of 4500 shaft horsepower - strapped firmly upon your shoulders. On a balmy, hot August afternoon the North Carolina sun beats life into submission. At 105 degrees heads hang low, tails drag slowly across the cracked tarmac where even fire ants won't crawl. Salt laden sticky sweat pours from every orifice in your body. There is no shade, no refuge, no place to hide. Every breath becomes a struggle to suppress the primordial urge to flee. Your prayers are for a glass of cool, clear water; a gentle breeze to blow this choking dust from your lungs; and a few quality days off for your soldiers. This is no picnic, no walk in the park.

             Over one hundred passionate, nameless individuals have formed a dedicated team. One mission, one goal in mind - Fly This Baby. Commanders and First Sergeants, Logistics and Maintenance personnel, Cooks and Civilians - all highly trained and motivated - have expended great personal effort and the unit is about to reap the reward. With some uncertainty, and at great risk of ultimate sacrifice, the chosen four will take possession. Glory be to those who will survive.

             Secure as a child cradled in mothers arms, comfort is taken in 28,000 pounds of aluminum. One thousand gallons of high octane jet fuel stands ready to propel a fragile craft into another universe, another dimension where time stands still - far away from the frustration of the earthbound world - towards the tranquility few have known.

             Soon the sun will kiss the horizon and the moment has arrived. Gently the thrust rises and the journey of a lifetime begins. Each occurrence a singular event. Man and machine meld uniformly into one unique, special entity. Each validating the other, wires and cables mirror the minds desires. Wings, extensions of the soul, glide through the air. The fuselage pulsating in response to the heart.

             Leaving the plush grassy meadow out beyond the runway's edge, you push above the pine filled forests. As if frozen warriors, snow capped mountain peaks guard the passage that will lead you through the gate into the promised land. Penetrating the domain of the eagle, your soul slips gracefully into the night. In the velvet layered clouds, harmony is discovered amongst the company of angels. Surrounded by universal energy, the purity of your thoughts, and the honor of your deeds, you are guided through the darkness by light of distant stars.

             For that brief moment in time you come to know yourself.

          Butterflies are free...



          The CH-47 - 40 years old and still circling the world.


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