Heading for El Paso
We gathered in the hotel lobby on Nov. 12, then headed for the airport in a short, unofficial motorcade of minivans.
Somehow, all eight of our aircraft had forgotten to pay for fuel in Little Rock the day before, so Capt. Heins lectured the crews about the need to pay for our gas and assigned a fuel officer for each flight of four aircraft. We then loaded the aircraft, cranked the engines and made our way out of Dallas/Ft. Worth to our first stop in San Angelo, Tex. (KSJT), where we all noticed the incredible drop in humidity. The flatlands also provided a good breeze in the 23 degree Celsius weather.
San Angelo was where the vegetation ended on our maps and, true to form, it ended in actuality. Our next stop, in Peco, Tex., was even more in the middle of nowhere. The airfield was a three room building with a couple of bathrooms, much smaller than the facilities we'd been used to in larger cities. But the people were as nice as could be. While the aircraft were being fueled, they served burritos to all 40 of us.
Our stop for the night was El Paso, Tex. (KELP), only meters away from the Mexican border. We made it into the airport before nightfall, but the sun had set by the time we drove to our hotel and we could see across the border into Mexico, filled with lights.
Capt. Heins let us know that our plans for the next day had changed, so that instead of flying through to our training destination of Yuma, Ariz., we'd only be going as far as Phoenix. This would put A Company's arrival into Yuma a bit closer to the expected arrival of Bravo Company, whose trip had been delayed by two days by maintenance issues and weather issues.
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