On Saturday, my husband and I attended the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) open house. Along with touring several planes, including the P-8A Poseidon, P-3C Orion, and a restored World War II era PBY-5A, and walking around an EA-18G Growler, we had the opportunity to chat with pilots, engineers, radar technicians, firefighters, ground crew and other support personnel.
We also saw K-9 working dogs, a helicopter search and rescue simulation, two types of drones (I thought they’d be bigger) and much more.
Driving home, I had several thoughts. First, today’s armed services are less focused on “boots on the ground” and more on using technology to survey, detect and counteract. Intelligence, rather than brute force, is central to protecting lives (military and civilian), and curtailing conflicts before they escalate.
What’s more remarkable, however, is the passion, determination and pride of service members. They love what they do and are eager to answer questions, describe their jobs, and share their experiences. I learned Growlers can fly within 2 feet of each other (unbelievable), how repelling equipment has been adapted for search and rescue, and how technicians land surveillance drones by “snagging” the tip of a wing on a taunt vertical wire.
We appreciated the opportunity to tour the base, view some of the planes and equipment, and learn more about our neighbors.