So I’ve been stirring up trouble recently.
I spoke in a panel discussion for young aspiring journalists at a middle school a week or so back. Also attending was Grace White from Channel 3, and a couple of state-level education types.
It went about as well as something can at 9 a.m. I cracked a few jokes, (in my typical crude humor) and the kids seemed to enjoy it. Several hung around to talk with me afterward. Never underestimate the power of quasi-profanity when talking to middle-schoolers.
So sticking with that trouble-maker theme. I drove to Eglin AFB, three times the following week. The goal was to get up close and personal with this:
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was making its first-ever stop at Eglin, and I was on the list to get up close and personal with it.
But, as is often the case with things I’m involved in, it was a fiasco.
Tuesday was a bust. The super high-tech fighter broke down in Texas, and I drove back to Pensacola without a story.
The second day I got wise, and decided to wait until the plane took off on its two-hour flight, then race down the highway in an attempt to beat it to Eglin.
Poor decision #1: Trying to beat a fighter jet in a race.
At about 1 p.m., I got the call, and I hauled. The gamble paid off (barely), and me and the little war-hammer Honda made it to Eglin just in time so see it land.
I don’t have a decent long lens, so after a couple of lackluster photos of the landing, I started thinking “blog,” and took a bunch of shots of my compatriots for later commentary.
Poor decision #2.
The plan was to watch the landing, then do interviews with the pilots and get photos of the parked plane. But as I’m packing up my stuff to head over and check out the plane, an Air Force Colonel walks up. His expression does not look promising.
Because the pilots had come in so late, they were running in to “crew rest” issues. All the photos and interviews would be postponed until the next day.
The editor is going to love this phone call….
I’ve got, like, three usable photos, and I don’t really like any of them. This is what ran on A-1.
I stopped to pick up the paper while driving to Eglin the next day, and grumbled to myself when confronted with my mediocrity.
This time it’s serious.
When they take us to see a test flight, I’m thinking “wingtip vortices.” When they take us to see its simulator, I’m thinking “panorama.” When they take us up to see the plane and interview the brass, I’m thinking, “I need to get away from this group and get some better angles.”
Poor decision #3.
Within minutes of wandering from the group, my absence was noticed, I was tracked down, and the Lockheed lass above firmly reminded me that I was to remain with the group at all times.
Minutes later, all the journalists were placed back in the van, and carted off without ever really getting a chance to photograph the jet.
But my two-minute elope was all I needed. As I previewed the pictures during the drive off the base, for the first time in three days, I liked what I saw.
Poor decisions, FTW!