Riding Around in My Automobile

Riding Around in My Automobile

2009734787When you drive on the flightline, you must do so in a very structured way.  On a military flightline, you never, never, never cross the red line.  Ever.  Did I say never?  It is there as a barrier around the aircraft so folks enter and exit the parking area in a safe and streamlined manner.  Probably so people don’t get sucked up in the engines.

My first time escorting distinguished visitors to an aircraft involved foreign dignitaries and local civic leaders.  My whole job was to babysit them in the DV lounge and then drive them to plane.  That was it. Did I need training?  Of course not.  It was just driving and I felt I could do that without instruction.  Apparently, my boss did too because he sent me out there without any.

One thing you have to know about the military is that there is training for absolutely everything.   How to drive a government vehicle.  How to shoot weapons. How to fill out a form to commandeer the vehicle and the weapon.  Everything.  Ironically enough, there actually is training for how to drive on the flightline as well.  But my boss, in his never-changing mood of hazing the new girl, felt I would be fine without it.

So, off I go.  I make it to the aircraft with absolutely no problem.  I drove right up, the DVs got right out and I parked and waited until the crew said I could go.  Feeling rather proud of myself, I pumped up the radio and sat tight.

Then there was a knock on the window.  Crap.  It was a military security forces troop – fancy word for cop – standing in full body armor, dark sunglasses and an array of weapons on his person.  I turned down the radio, rolled down the window and grinned out at him.  “Yes?” in my sweetest Alabama twang.

“Ma’am, you can’t cross the red line.”

“What red line?”  I looked around confused; my hands shaking.

“That red line.” He points with authority at the tarmac.

Oh crap.  That red line.

“Ma’am, you’ll need to go back out the ECP (Entry Control Point) and pull in the right way.”

“OK, no problem.”

I rolled the window up (it’s really windy in Kansas) and dutifully drove out the ECP and back across the red line to cancel out the original crossing of the red line and parked on the other side of it to wait on the crew.  Putting the car in park, I smile to myself and crank the music back up.

As I’m head bobbing to some Red Hot Chili Peppers I hear a tink on the window.  Damn, it’s that cop again.  Only this time he is far away from me, trying to get my attention.  I turn off the music again and roll down the window.

“MA’AM!” Crap, he’s yelling at me.  “I SAID.  DON’T CROSS THE RED LINE!”

I didn’t.  I crossed back and that cancelled it out.  What the hell is he talking about?!

“But, but.”  I sputtered. Sweat is forming on my forehead.  Arrested on my first day.  I’d heard the stories of guys on the flightline driving wrong or walking wrong and ending up facedown on the tarmac, searched, cuffed and dragged to a cell, awaiting their supervisors.  Oh God.  I can’t go to jail in my first month on active duty.  My mother would be so upset.

Finally, he points to his feet.  He’s standing on the red line.

“You can’t cross it.  Ever.”  For crying out loud.  “Please go back to the ECP.”

By this time the crew was standing by the aircraft laughing, the dignitaries were pointing at me and a crowd had formed by the DV lounge shading their eyes and looking.

Since no one seemed to need me anymore and that darn cop wouldn’t quit bothering me, I decided it was time to just pack it in.  I drove out the ECP and parked at the DV lounge, my red face blazed so hot my eyes stung.

I walked over to the small crowd where most of them were holding their sides and wiping aways tears from the obvious pain their laughter had given them. Lt Ben was waiting for me to be face down in cuffs, I’m sure.

Chief George, arms crossed, lips twitching, stared straight ahead.  He could have been a linebacker for the 49s but chose military police instead.  I was dead.  I was going to jail.  I was going to get fired.  Again.

“Ma’am, I’ve signed you up for flight line driver’s class.  It starts Friday.”  And off he walked, spitting something nasty on the ground.


The moral of the story:  when you’re driving DVs be good friends with the cops!




Would love to hear from you!

%d bloggers like this: