Traveller Editor Travels
by Tommy Towery
Some of you are retired military and many of you are former members or spouses of members of one of our country’s military branches, so I hope you might find this of some interest.
For those who are not aware, one of the benefits of being a retired service member is the ability to travel on military aircraft that have unused seats that are headed somewhere you might want to go. This benefit is called “Space-Available” and normally shortened to “Space-A” travel. Most of the aircraft are cargo-type airplanes and may or may not be moving military cargo or active duty passengers from one base to another. The available seats are first offered to active duty members, then families of active duty, and so on through six different categories of passengers, with retired members and their spouses being the last category to be offered seats. The retiree must travel with the spouse – no spouse can fly without being accompanied by him or her.
Retirees are allowed to sign up for travel up to 60 days in advance and the seating for retirees is based upon the sign up date, first come – first seated. For this trip, I signed up for myself and Sue about 30 days before we wanted to try to find a flight to the San Diego, California, area to visit our daughter and her family, including the twin grandkids. There is a National Guard unit flying Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft out of Memphis which make a weekly trip to Andrews Joint Reserve Base in Washington D.C., which is the opposite direction from the way we wanted to travel, but sometimes you go east to get west. Consider commercial aircraft that operate major hubs in a large city like Atlanta that makes connections to other places. Knowing the planned schedule, I saw there were some opportunities to catch a flight to the west coast easier from an east coast “hub” base.
We left Memphis on Friday, February 28th, flying to Washington D.C. and then on to McGuire AFB in Trenton, N.J. We spent the night in base lodging that night and the next morning caught a flight to Travis AFB in Northern California. There were no upcoming flights to Southern California on the schedule when we arrived, but while we were waiting in the terminal a flight to Hawaii was announced that had seats available. We decided it would be more fun to wait out the schedule in Hawaii than Northern California so we boarded the Hawaii flight and four hours later walked off the plane in Paradise. We rented a car for a couple of days and visited some of our favorite Hawaiian beaches and eating places while we kept looking for a flight to Southern California to materialize but it did not, so we got back on a plane headed back to the Northern California base we left two days earlier. The next day a flight to March AFB in Riverside, California, opened up seats and we took the hour and a half flight down there. I had reserved a one-way Hertz rental car which we picked up after landing and 70 miles and an hour later we were at my daughter’s house.
After two weeks of visiting with them we were ready to head back home. A flight was scheduled out of North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego so we drove down there only to find the flight was cancelled sometime while we were enroute. We quickly switched to Plan-B and drove back to March AFB and got a room in their lodging for the night. The next morning we got up and boarded a flight back to Andrews in Washington D.C. About an hour after we arrived we switched planes for a flight to Charleston, S.C. and got there a little before midnight. We spent the night in base lodging again and the next morning caught a flight to Jackson, Mississippi, to swap planes and then on the same afternoon flew back to Memphis, where we had left our car. An hour later we were home safe and sound.
For those who hate traveling, this sounds like a nightmare. For us, being retired, going someplace is not just a trip, it is an adventure. We flew on three different types of military aircraft, a C-17, a KC-10, and a gigantic C-5. Yes I know it would have been faster and much less complicated to book round trip commercial aircraft tickets. When I checked, it would have cost us over $1,100 to make the visit on commercial flights and would not have included a side trip to Hawaii that we thoroughly enjoyed. The trip via military Space-A only cost us less than $400, which was for the three nights lodging and the two car rentals. According to the math I learned at Lee High School, we saved over $700 by taking the longer route, and to my retiree budget, that is a great savings.
There were some other things to consider as well, which you see in the videos. The one up top shows we did not have any problems with leg room, screaming kids, or other obnoxious passengers since we were the only two on the plane. The other one shows we had a rare opportunity to ride in the jumpseats in the cockpit with the pilots on the flight from Jackson to Memphis. Now try that on a commercial flight.
Trips like this are only possible for those who have a lot of time and can accept and be flexible with changing travel plans. And don’t think I am taking advantage of tax payers like some politicians, because the planes are going to be flying anyway and adding a couple of passengers does not cost any more. I feel like I pre-paid my fare by risking my life in service to our country for 20 years and living on the lower salaries service members earn compared to their civilian counterparts.
If you lost track, here's the executive summary of our flights: Memphis > Washington D.C. > Trenton, NJ > Northern California > Hawaii > Northern California > Southern California > Washington D.C. > Charleston, SC > Jackson, MS > Memphis. That would be a lot of frequent flyer miles.
If any of you military retirees have never taken advantage of the Space-A opportunities, I will be happy to share some tips on how to do so.
Memphis, TN - As you read in the lead story, we are back home and resting up following another one of our adventures. We planned to be home a couple of days earlier to enjoy all the NCAA basketball tournament, but missed the first day. It will be a good time to sit and watch our teams and rest up from the trip.
The '64 Reunion committee would like for you to respond to their invitation if you are planning to attend so they can continue to work on activity plans.
LEE LUNCH BUNCH
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Balmoral Dr. (off Airport Rd.)
Please let us know if you plan to attend. Logan’s management always asks us for a number. You can let me know by email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), or let Judy Fedrowisch Kincaid know on Facebook or by email ( email@example.com ).
Thanks and hope to see you April 24th at the LLB
Patsy Hughes Oldroyd
LEE HIGH SCHOOL
FIRST GRADUATING CLASS 1964
50 year Reunion
We will be celebrating the First Graduating Class of one of Huntsville’s Historic High Schools on
September 26-27, 2014
WELCOME ALL 1965, 1966
ACOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE: Blocked Rooms at the Embassy Suites: 20 suites blocked; 1964 1ST priority;
$119.00/night, must reserve early; rooms will not be held until Sept; specify LHS 50th Reunion Code#636
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Lee Grads Make Hall of Fame
If possible please pass this along to the LHS family. Three former Generals will be inducted into the Huntsville Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame on Monday, April 14.
Richard Gattis- Class of 1973- basketball
Ron Cooper- Class of 1979- football coach
Sue Marshall- coached at Lee for several years before moving to Randolph
The price for a couple is $90.
Subject: Last Traveller Issue
Sandra (Sandy) Stephenson Presley
I am amazed at your
memory!!! Thank you for sharing all the little things I did as a kid but
yet forgot! These are priceless memories...keep up the good work, I
really enjoy it...
Subject: Games and Elevators
Class of ‘66
I loved the latest issue with the two stories about childhood games and memories of riding elevators. When you were remembering all the games we played as young ones it brought back such fun memories.
I would spend from morning til evening outside playing with my friends…everything from cowboys and Indians to detectives and hide and seek. We climbed trees, rode our bikes and toy cars and only came inside for lunch. Those were great days. I think the only shows I watched on TV were Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo.
Ann’s story about the elevator brought back great memories of riding the elevator with my grandmother in Pomeroy’s and Bowman’s department stores in PA. The gentleman who ran the elevator sat on a stool and had a uniform and white gloves. I loved watching him open the metal bars and doors and as a child found it so amazing.
Thanks for two great stories that brought back wonderful childhood memories for me!
Western TV Trivia
1. Who was "a knight without armor in a savage land"?
2. What actor played this role?
3. What was the title of the TV series?
4. Did the hero/lead character have a sidekick? If so, what was his/her name?
5. What was the name of the actor who played the sidekick?
6. Did the hero/lead character have a special horse? Name?
7. Where did the action take place?
8. What character trait, or weapon, or profession, made this hero special or unique?
Here are the Answers To Last Week's Quiz
9. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?