Paying A Visit to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing
The 9th reconnaissance wing, Beale's host wing, is composed of more than 3,000 personnel in four groups on base and at multiple overseas operating locations -- the 9th Mission Support Group, 9th Medical Group, 9th Maintenance Group and 9th Operations Group. Over spring break, four Det. 685 cadets, including myself, accompanied by SSgt. Low and some University of Portland cadets took advantage of a great opportunity and went down to visit and tour Beale Air Force Base in California.
Although the drive was approximately 10 hours each way, it was definitely a trip worth going on. When we first arrived, we went and got something to eat at the local pub where we got to talk to many active duty members who were celebrating their graduation from ammunition school. That experience was one that none of us will ever forget and it really showed us all that in the air force we truly do work hard and play hard.
The next morning we got up and had breakfast at the mess hall and then got right to the tour. We had an outstanding time at every place we went to starting with the military working dogs. We were able to watch as the handlers took their dogs through an obstacle course, sniff out explosives, and we also got to see the power of these dogs as they practiced attacks on victim in a bite suit. Unfortunately one of our tour guides who bravely put the suit on was not able to continue because the dog slipped a little on his bite and nipped her in the head. After that we weren’t sure if anything was going to be quite as fun, but we were mistaken.
We watched planes flying around all day and were even able to go into the tower and watch a Globalhawk take off. Beale AFB is home of the U2 spy plane which is an amazing aircraft and one that takes a lot to fly. We went and saw the altitude chamber where pilots are trained and also got to see where the U2 pilots get ready before each flight. We learned a lot about the pilots and their intricate flight or “space” suits they wear and even got to try some tube food that they eat in flight; surprisingly it actually tastes pretty good (especially the caffeinated chocolate pudding and apple pie).
I could go on telling you about every little thing we did on the visit and how much fun we had but that would take forever so I would recommend talking to the cadets who did take advantage of this opportunity, and make sure you go on the next base visit offered; you will have a great time!