Landing on the Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan and Catapulting Off!

As I’ve mentioned previously, I had quite an exciting weekend and the fun didn’t end with the C-17 ride on Friday as part of the 2010 Pacific Rim Exercises.

On Saturday, the US NAVY gave me the the opportunity to land on the Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan and to get catapulted off of the buggah!

I knew for a few weeks now that I would be having a pretty wild weekend this weekend but I didn’t expect it to be this crazy.  I didn’t even find out until a few weeks ago that I was selected to go on the ship as a “Distinguished Visitor”.

The group of social media folks that were selected all gathered at the Pearl Harbor Pass and ID office at 9:00 on Saturday for what would turn out to be an all day “mission”.

We then boarded vans which took us out to the Hickam Combat Squadron Station.

Once we got there, they explained about the C-2A Greyhound Plane (Carrier On-Board Delivery – C.O.D) that would be taking us out to the USS Ronald Reagan as a group of 24 folks.

We had to wear protective cranial caps and goggles…

As well as salt water activated life jackets in case the plane went down in the water.

I ended up looking like this

We all boarded the plane and then took off for the Aircraft Carrier which was located about 150 – 200 miles North of Oahu.

About an hour into the ride, my ears started to pop so I knew that we were starting to descend.

I knew to brace myself for the landing as we were going to be hooked by the tail of the plane and then stopped immediately and it was quite an exciting landing as on the first pass by… we missed the dang cord that was suppose to hook us!

So the pilot gunned it and we flew off the end of the Aircraft Carrier and made a second pass where the pilot successfully landed the plane and caught the wire that was suppose to catch us the first time.  I think I jinxed us as I actually asked what the percentage of chance that could possibly happen and they said very little like maybe 5% of the times a plane misses.  Well of course I was on the plane that missed!

When they finally opened the doors of the plane we were in… this is what I had a chance to see right off the bat.

I took this video of the other folks on the flight getting off the “COD”


As they quickly rushed us off the flight deck… I took this one last picture of the control tower and bridges.

They brought us into the ship and we got out of our cranials and life jackets and then quickly we were brought to the Commanders “Port Quarters” where we were introduced the ships Commanding Officer – Kenneth J. Norton, CAPT, USN (Far Right).

Commanding Officer Norton gives a brief run down of things


So after talking with the Commander for a while, it was time for a tour of the ship… or so I thought, but, what really happened is they brought us into one of the cafeterias on the ships and we had a great lunch.

It was then time to tour the ship…  We started by checking out the room and museum that was devoted to former President Ronald Reagan.  This plaque of Ronald Reagan is actually attached to a piece of the former Berlin Wall.

After spending some time in that room learning more about who the ship was named after we moved on to the “hangar” of the ship where I took the following pictures.

You can see more Hangar shots in the picture gallery below.

So after checking out the hangar, we then checked out the room where they do a lot of stuff such as re-enlisting folks and honoring them with honors.  I figured I’d honor myself.

After that, we headed straight to the Combat Direction Center and after our tour guide had made sure that the place was “Sanitized from media folks” we were offered a first hand look at the place and were even allowed to take pictures of the place.

After that, we checked out the Flight Operations room.

We then put on cranials, goggles and life jackets again as we headed out on to the flight deck to watch some catapult lift offs and then some “recovery” of planes.

We headed out on to the flight deck and this is what I saw:

And here is a short video of one of the jets getting catapulted off the ship.


After they launched about a dozen or so planes off the carrier, it was time for a “recovery” stage, where the planes would land on the plane and then get caught by these cords that were across the carrier.

And here is a short clip of a jet landing and getting hooked as you can see… I’m REALLY CLOSE TO WHERE THESE BUGGAHS ARE LANDING!


After being on deck for about half an hour watching jets take off and land, we moved back inside of the ship and went up to the Flight Control Deck where they explained the coordination of the planes once they were on the deck.

We then went all the way up to the Bridge of the ship where the Commander spends most of his time and he briefed us on a few things.

I decided I would pirate the ship for a few minutes and I asked the Commander if I could sit in his chair and he let me!

The tour of the ship was getting ready to wind down so we went back down to the Commanding Officers “Port” Room where Captain Norton explained to us the importance and significance of the USS Ronald Reagan.

He mentioned that the average age of the folks working aboard was only 22 years of age and that he was very impressed with the folks that have been entering the military during this last generation.

He emphasized that these kids joining the military now a days… have  basically spent their entire lives living in a country that has been at war during the last two decades and that there is a strong sense of patriotism amongst the kids and that he was really honored to be part of a “National Treasure”  the USS Ronald Reagan.

I remembered from the USS Chung Hoon tour that I took, that most Commanders have “Coins” made that they give to dignitaries… So of course when no was looking… I asked the Commander if he had a coin… And HE TOOK OUT THE ONLY ONE THAT HE HAD IN HIS DESK… Folded it up in his hands… then shook my hand… and the next thing I knew… I was the only member of this trip that received a Commanding Officers Coin!

Commanding Officer Norton then presented us all with a certificate recognizing us as Honary Naval Aviators as well as a nice picture of the ship (top picture) as well as a picture of him with us.

We then prepared to get catapulted off of the Aircraft carrier going from 0 to 150 MPH in less then three seconds.  We watched a short video on how to prepare and what to expect during the catapult and then made our way to the plane.  We braced ourselves for the ride and before we new it we were flying off the end of the Aircraft Carrier!

I wasn’t allowed to hold my camera during the catapult as we were instructed to put our arms across our chest… but I’m sure the look on my face must have been hilarious!  Talk about an adrenaline rush!!!

County Councilman Greenwell Cuffed and Stuffed

Commentary by Councilmember Kelly Greenwell:

On Saturday, July 17, 2010 at approximately 1:00p.m., six or eight vehicles, one of which was mine, were traveling north on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway just beyond the Makala Blvd. intersection, where the speed limit increases from 35 to 45 mph (we at the County Council approved this increase perhaps a year ago). We were being scanned by a police officer parked on the rise eight or nine hundred yards beyond the intersection, near the old 35 mph sign which was supposed to be removed when the new 45 mph sign was installed. For whatever reason, he chose to focus on my car and flagged me down individually. I demanded to know what the reason was and why he chose me, and after identifying myself as the Councilmember from District 8, I attempted to get out of the car to discuss what is an apparent speed trap.

About an hour later, I’m in the police station handcuffed and being booked for a list of charges never disclosed. I’m sure they will include resisting arrest and perhaps disobeying the threats or “orders” of a police officer.

So, what happened?

Perhaps I was recognized as the Councilmember opposing the police for what I believe to be barbaric tactics in subduing the marijuana advocates over the last several years or for their refusal to obey the law which restricts the prosecution for possession of marijuana.

Perhaps I was recognized as the advocate for civil behavior by police officers, opposing the increasing harsh and militant tactics of the present force.

Or perhaps it was simply me.

What was really the crime? That I took issue with being singled out for going 51 in a 45 mph speed zone, or maybe it was that a patrol officer was using an anomaly in posted signage to trap motorists from his vantage point when he should have been traveling with the traffic? Was it that as a traffic officer he should have been aware that highway speed is first a function of traffic flow? Or could it be that a 70 year old man, elected to the County Council by the people of the 8th District to watch over the conduct of all County Departments(including the Police), doing the job he was hired to do, was threatened with a laser gun (lethal to him because of his Epilepsy) if he didn’t lie down on the pavement and allow the officer to handcuff him (I wouldn’t do that) or because he had to sit handcuffed in a cage in the back of a police cruiser for a half hour with no air and all the windows sealed?

Or was it that when I asked that the pills to control my Epileptic seizures be retrieved from my car in the event that my stress level required them, this request, while responded to, was ultimately ignored. Was it that I, a person so proud of his community record be given the option of leaving his hands shackled behind him or tethered to a post like a goat while being booked as a criminal? Or is the crime that the ethics of a modern police department is now merely about control rather than being there to help?

Or maybe there was really no crime at all, maybe I have been trying to live in a world that no longer exists, maybe seventy years is too long to live in one place.

Kelly Greenwell

County Council Member

District 8

75-5706 Hanama Place


Kailua-Kona, HI