On Monday of this week my kids and I were allowed the opportunity to tour FA-18D jets with a squadron on Marines at our local Marine base. The trip was arranged through a local homeschool group and my kids and I tagged along as eager guests.
Broken into age groups, the once large group split into three smaller groups and we all followed our assigned Marine aviator. First stop for our group was the dressing room. My boys had fun in this room. After a brief demonstration of gearing up for flight from a Marine pilot the kids were all offered an opportunity to try on the gear for themselves.
My oldest all geared up and ready to go! Wee Man all set to pull Mach 5
The technology that it takes to keep jet pilots alert and coherent for flight is amazing. All told the three layers of gear and helmet weigh upwards of 30 pounds. If I remember correctly, the first layer of gear is the one that keeps blood flowing to the brain when G's are pulled during flight. Through an air tube connected to the vest air is pumped into the best and constricts blood flow to the legs so it doesn't pool there during intense flight patterns. Instead the blood is forced to keep flowing to the brain so the pilot can continue to think and function properly during flight. Another vest includes the life preserver around the neck in the case of a water landing. The outermost best includes a bunch of tools and gadgets to help the pilot breathe, function, and otherwise do his job properly.
Next stop was the FA18-D jet. Here we learned countless things about the jet itself. First off, the FA stands for fighter attack and the D indicates it is a 2-seater jet (D for delta or two). We also learned the front nose cone protects a radar dish that helps the pilot locate his targets. The second man in the jet is the weapons and safety officer. He manages the weapons during flight. Lastly, when parked various parts of the plane must be covered so that insects do not nest in or land on the jet thereby impairing proper function.
The last stop on our tour for the day was the briefing room. Although our last stop for the day, this is the first stop the Marines make each day before they dress or fly. They are briefed on their mission for the day and then gear up for their flight.
My kids and I had a wonderful time Monday experiencing the FA18-D. After the trip we checked out numerous books on Military fighter jets and my boys are doing a mini-unit on airplanes because of this educational trip.
Be sure and visit Live the Adventure for more Friday Field Trips!