Indy 500 Centennial Tour Journal
It's been a whirlwind of a trip and we're barely into it! We flew over on a military K-135 cargo plane. Our seats were far from the luxury of a commercial plane. In fact, a seat was actually a luxury! I found a comfy place on the plane and managed to wedge myself between the cargo nets and the wooden boxes. Snuggled into my sleeping bag with my overnight bag as a pillow, I had the best 2-hour sleep I've ever had on a plane.
Mid-flight, I was invited back to the boomer cabin, a small space big enough for two people to lie down in. It's here where the guys operate the boom that refills planes in flight. We were lying on a Perspex glass floor at 41,000 feet. It was the most awe-inspiring view of earth I've had.
We landed at 0300 German time. Upon landing it took a further two hours to get off the plane as the airport was "frozen" to enable the departure of the Vice-President's flight back to America. I've never seen so much security surrounding one guy. It was definitely a sight to see!
We checked into the base's hotel and managed to get our heads down for about 2 hours before our first briefing of the day at 0830.
We presented the General in Charge of the Air Force base with a specially signed helmet commemorating the tour. From there, we went straight to the Warrior Center for troops who are due to fly back to hospitals in the USA.
We stood inside the belly of a C-17, the second largest plane in the Air Force. It was so big, you could literally play basketball inside! I was given a tour of the cockpit by the captain who happened to be a female pilot! Sitting inside the cockpit felt like looking out of a four-story building.
Things turned quite emotional as we watched the plane being loaded with guys flying over to US hospitals. Luckily, there were no "serious" injuries; but nevertheless, it was humbling to think that 24 hours ago, these guys were in Afghanistan or Iraq serving our country.
Only halfway through the day, the rest of the afternoon was spent visiting troops in the intensive care unit. There's something to be said about the ICU. I've talked a lot about the mental toughness of the injured troops and their determination. But a lot needs to be said about the team of medical staff here and in every hospital. These guys must see the most horrendous of injuries and traumas, yet they all possess a zest for life and share camaraderie of that of a band of brothers. They all seem to be the best of friends; they are the unsung heroes of this war.
Our last appointment of the day was our show at the Hercules Theatre. It lasted about an hour and a half and some magical stories of past Indy 500s were told.
I'm sorry, guys, I wish I could write much more. There is so much more cool stuff I could elaborate on, but we're grabbing our first sit down meal at a local restaurant. There is no chance of getting rest thought! I have had 2 hours of sleep since I left America. Tonight we will get back from the restaurant at 2200 hours before leaving at 0130 hours for a 6-hour flight to our next destination. Speak to you soon!
-source: martin plowman PR