By Col. Dick Strifert, Vermont Air National Guard (retired)
As a former pilot with the Vermont Air National Guard, I would like to share a personal experience I had with two prominent Vermont politicians: Rep. Margaret “Peg” Garland and Lt. Gov. Howard Dean.
Two Democrats in the public square. But, oh, what a difference! I had a personal connection with both of them, but with a very common denominator. That connection? The Vermont Air National Guard, and having given each of them a personal flight.
When the Vermont Air National Guard was assigned F-4D Phantom fighter jets (1981-1986), I had the distinct pleasure of giving Representative Peg Garland a familiarization flight, and it made perfect sense. She was a prominent and respected legislator, and it was routine to give people in the public eye such flights. She was the perfect candidate. She had been assigned as a WASP in World War II, and was well qualified to fly.
As I remember, it was one of the best familiarization flights I ever had the pleasure of flying and sharing with a non-Air Guard member. She relished everything we did in the air, and it really didn’t matter if it was pulling “G’s”, flying low and fast, or turning and burning. She loved every minute of that experience, and at the time, I believe she was in her 80s. A real trooper.
When the Vermont Air National Guard converted to F-16s in 1986, it was obvious that prominent members of the state government wanted to get in line to get a flight. Senator Pat Leahy was one of the first, but then I had a chance to give Lieutenant Governor Dean an orientation flight. My, what a difference. We spent a little over an hour flying a routine low-level route to see Vermont at 480 knots. Not anything crazy. The Lt Guv was petrified, and became airsick quickly. Back on the ground, the green-faced #2 in Vermont ran to the restroom to toss his cookies and sneak out the back door. What a wimp.
I find it strange that this same prominent Dem finds fault with Elon Musk and his attempt to level the playing field of Twitter. Elon crazy? Consider the source. I do every day.