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Growth Spurts: Mama Maverick

It started out like any other Saturday morning…

I’m lying. It was nothing like any other Saturday morning. I woke up with a migraine. The whole back half of my head throbbed and felt like it weighed 67 pounds. While I do occasionally get migraines, I knew that this one was at least partially attributed to the fact that this was the day I had been dreading–er, anticipating–for over a month. It was the day that I was to fly with the Blue Angels.

[Cue Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” for all you Top Gun fans. Cue the air sickness bag for me.]

So you’re probably wondering, as I and so many others wondered, how in the world this came to be. My answer: somewhat randomly. A very nice lady from the Naval Air Station in Meridian called the Parents & Kids office (Did I tell y’all I started working there part-time in January?) to talk to us about promoting the “Golden Wings Over Meridian” event. Then she called back a couple of days later and said that she had some media spots available and wanted to offer me the chance to fly with the Blue Angels. My co-workers were very excited for me, so I worked hard to hide my panic. I love roller coasters, but I wasn’t sure I could handle this. Plus, I have claustrophobia, so the thought of being strapped into a tiny, spinning plane was not so very thrilling.

Everyone kept telling me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that they were incredibly jealous, so I just didn’t see how I could back out. Plus, I’m not just claustrophobic; I’m also incredibly stubborn and a bit adventurous. I (sometimes) like to face my fears. So that’s what I did. I pushed right on through my migraine that morning, by way of vomiting a few times (I figured there would be more of that later in the day anyway.); put on my game face; plucked three or four new gray hairs; popped some Excedrin; and proceeded to drive with my family from Jackson to Meridian.

My children knew that I had been nervous. They knew that I had, in fact, gone up in my father-in-law’s plane just a couple of weeks prior to this event and had, in fact, gotten sick. Very, very sick. Very. And so my children were offering to take my place. “And it doesn’t even sound likefun to me!” said my six-year-old daughter. Now that’s love. But I couldn’t let them do that–for a number of reasons (one of them legal). Seeing how concerned they were for me, I had to step up my determination and confidence. Their encouragement lifted my spirits as we drove. 

As we got closer to Meridian, however, the sky grew darker and darker. Rain began to pour, and lightning began to strike. “Oh, this is good!” I smiled to myself, knowing that the planes surely would not fly in such weather. God was on my side. I wouldn’t have to take to the skies, but I would still get bonus points for brave intentions.

As the weather worsened, my smile broadened. And then…I am telling you the truth: As soon as we made the turn toward the Air Station, the skies opened up into a beautiful, partly-cloudy spring day. My smile, as well as my stomach, then turned upside-down. But I pressed on.

My husband Kevin is a video producer (shameless plug: Peartree Productions), so he brought his camera along to document the event. Once we finally figured out where we were supposed to be, I was given some forms to complete. Seeing that my husband had a video camera, the officer asked Kevin if he was flying, too. We both looked at each other and froze for a second. We were in disbelief but excited about the possibility. Thankfully, Kevin’s father had accompanied us to the show and, after making sure that our will was up-to-date, agreed to look after the kids while we went on our adventure. Note: A huge thank-you is in order here, since my father-in-law is a pilot and very much wanted to be the one flying that day!

Now the papers were signed, and we and about a dozen others were transported to our plane. This is where it gets really good–for me, at least. You see, it was true that we were to fly with the Blue Angels. But it was not to be in the tiny jets that you see flying in diamond formations. Instead, we were to fly in the Blue Angels’ C-130 Hercules plane, “Fat Albert.” The name tells you that it was big, but don’t let that fool you. It was still fast and still did some crazy tricks!

I was so relieved, though, by the fact that it was a large plane and that my husband got to fly with me, that my fears had pretty much subsided. Oh, but then we took off. WOW!!!! It was, as one of the crew members warned us, like a roller coaster on steroids! It was ten minutes of sudden ups and downs, moments of weightlessness, turns and spins, and pressure from all directions. And it was great!

I am happy to report that not only did I survive my puke-free flight with the Blue Angels, I also enjoyed it and would highly recommend the adventure to others! Everyone involved with the air show in Meridian was incredibly nice and so helpful, and everyone involved with the Blue Angels made the experience both fantastic and memorable. What a thrill!

Our children were very excited to see Kevin and me. (Undoubtedly, so was my father-in-law.) They described to us all the tricks they saw our plane do, and since I was now safely on the ground, I could “Ooo” and “Ahh” with them without hesitation. I told them how exciting it was and how much fun we had. They told me they were very proud of me, and, though we all acknowledged that we were glad we had gotten to take the big plane, I still felt a great sense of accomplishment.

Whether it’s flying with the Blue Angels, feeling claustrophobic, speaking in public, doing art, dealing with mice, or simply not wanting to be laughed at–it is good for me to face my fears (some of which you now know). It’s not easy. But it’s good. It’s also a good example to set for my children, since I’m always encouraging them to try new things and not to be scared about it. Stunt-flying, broccoli…it’s all the same. Ha!

Admittedly, I got off a bit easy this time. Still, I’m thankful that I faced my fears…but then kind of didn’t have to. And next time I’ll know to ask more questions. I could’ve avoided a month’s worth of worry had I simply asked something like, “You mean I’m going to be flying in one of those little bitty, crazy-spinning jets???” To which the officer would simply have said, “No,” and I might’ve avoided a migraine.

Can I still get bonus points for bravery?

*See the video of Carrie’s Blue Angels experience here. Filmed by Kevin Partridge of Peartree Productions.

Carrie Bevell Partridge has a lot of admiration for the Blue Angels but still prefers observing them from the ground. Visit Carrie’s blogs: www.oncarriesmind.blogspot.com and www.stuffmamaslike.blogspot.com.

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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