Thursday, June 01, 2006

Settling In

After climbing the ladder and getting in the cockpit a crew member followed to strap me in the ejector seat, attach the oxygen, adjust the restraints and shut the canopy. This took quite a bit more time than this description suggests and while it was happening I was aware that my pulse had noticeably quickened. Things were getting real, real fast.

I was fine all the way up to closing the canopy but all at once, sitting there breathing through the mask, everything became seriously tight, an unpleasant feeling made even more so by the closeness of the cockpit and the fact that the restraint straps allowed for little movement. Ironically I was not afraid of the flight but came close to panic about panicking. I could just see myself pounding on the canopy trying to get out. Fortunately I talked myself down concentrating on the instrument panel.

At first the wait seemed interminable and was, in fact, a good 10 minutes or more before anything happened. Finally they attached us to a pulling frame which in turn was attached to a truck. The truck pulled us from the staging area out closer to the active runway.