Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Head Coach for Harvard Football, is embarking on a week-long journey overseas to speak with men and women of the United States military as part of the Coaches Tour 2010. The purpose of the trip is to essentially provide service men and women with a break from the rigors of active duty while providing a temporary outlet of something sports-related.
Murphy is contributing periodic updates about the trip and the first installment is below.
Greetings from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan.
On Saturday, I flew from Boston to Atlanta and then onto McConnell where I met up with the rest of our traveling party.
McConnell AFB is one of the nation’s oldest bases, having served the United States since WWII.
After arriving at Wichita’s National Airport, I was picked up by our tour pilot, Captain Garrett Bilbo, as well as our navigator, Captain Kyle Dinwiddie. We will be flying to seven countries in a nine-day span on a KC-35, which is a combination air refueling Supertanker and transport aircraft.
The KC-135 is a huge place that is surprisingly fast and has been serving the air force for the past 50 years. While the plane is spectacular, the one thing it is not is comfortable. There is no temperature control and temperature inside the plane ranges 10 to 90 degrees at different times.
I asked Capt. Bilbo about any tough situations he had been through in flying the KC-135 and he said that the plane had been struck by lightning once. The situation blinded the crew for 60 seconds and knocked out the avionics while blowing a chunk off the tail of the plane. Needless to say, since he handled that scenario without too much trouble, I’m glad to be flying with this crew.
Brigadier General Rick Devereaux will be accompanying us on this trip and one thing I have been immediately struck with and impressed by is his tremendous professionalism, enthusiasm and pride that he takes in his Air Force personnel. Tomorrow, our wheels go up at 01100 for the 10-hour flight to Germany to visit wounded soldiers at a military hospital there. More to come after I warm up or cool down – depending on the plane’s temperature.