Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Maybe next time, they’ll let us drive the tank …

On February 18, most of the student contingent of Boise State’s Microgravity University flight team passed the security checkpoint at Gowen Field (despite Dan’s suspicious license plate ...). The Medical Group of the 124th Wing of the Idaho Air National Guard had generously agreed to support the flyers by administering complimentary Class 3 Flight Physicals, and it was the moment of truth for Dan, Mallory, Ryan and Kyle.

One by one, they were taken for tests on everything from vision to blood pressure to reflexes. But the most intimidating test involved what looked like a tiny phone booth and ear phones so tight even breathing made it hard to hear the intermittent, painfully quiet beeps. Crammed in the booth and concentrating hard, the students not only experienced the head trip of trying to differentiate between real and imagined sounds, they also learned that noise pollution lurks just about everywhere (crying babies can be dangerous, and young people have been known to fail from driving to the base with their windows down).

The staff nurses and doctors made the day a treat. Jokes flowed from the moment we walked through the door, though everyone got serious when Dan picked up the remote control. Despite the lovely HD flat screen above the front desk, the 124th Medical Group was resigned to watching daytime court shows with a picture so fuzzy it was hard to tell Judge Alex from Judge Judy. In a matter of seconds, Dan used his “powers of telekinesis” to switch the band from analog to digital, instantly giving the office crew more channels, all with crystal clear images. Although Dan already accepted a job with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after he graduates, we’re pretty sure he got some unofficial offers to stay and fix all of the computers on the base.

After posing for victory pictures, the team got back on the road to Boise State. They were approved for flight on the infamous “vomit comet.”

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