On Wednesday Oct 24th, 2012 Myself, Elf, and an Anonymous friend took Glen for one last flight. I had secured a Piper Archer (PA28-180) from Palomar airport in Carlsbad, CA through my club connections, and was ready to depart on a beautiful San Diego day.
Our Mission: Fly “BUB” over the SEAL compound on Coronado and air drop some of his ashes for one last flight and a final goodbye to that chapter of his life.
I piloted the plane down the coast at 500′ and it was gorgeous with a slight tail wind. I contacted San Diego International Airport over the La Jolla cove, and requested a class B airspace clearance. Once through class B I called up the Navy tower at North Island, and asked for a San Diego Bay arrival, bridge over fly, and clearance back up the coast by the Hotel Del and Pt. Loma at 700′. You could hear the frustration in the controller’s voice as he tried to brush us off because of ongoing air ops, I didn’t blame him. Once I explained the mission, who we were, and that this was one last flight for our friend Glen. We were granted access immediately, and thank you again to the gent in the tower.
After holding over the Coronado bridge for incoming H-60 helicopter traffic we were cleared for a low fly by past the SEAL compound. “Two minutes out”, I signaled to Elf. I gradually pulled the throttle back and put the plane into a slight descent to lose a few hundred feet. I then trimmed, and set power for 100′ (I swear we didn’t get lower) over water along the beach.
The sun was just starting to set as we blazed past the obstacle course at over a 100 mph. The main BUD/S compound started to come into sight, and I could see a class of fresh SEAL students shuffling into the grinder for some sort of grueling evolution with their combat seasoned SEAL instructors. They would get no mercy from the gate keepers. A hand full of the students looked skyward as they jogged. None of them could possibly know the significance of the flight, and all the saw was a lone person propping open the door of the Piper, and a slight puff as we gave our friend one last “hop and pop” over the Navy SEAL training compound.
BUD/S is the birthplace of the US Navy SEAL teams and one of the places Glen, myself, and all SEALs hold dear to the heart. We are born again hard on this small stretch of the Pacific coast. I wondered for a brief moment in time, if any of those students looking skyward, the handful that would make it through training, understood the gravity of their chosen profession.
The door closed, I moved the throttle to full power, and smiled knowing a piece of Glen had been laid to rest at one of the places he loved greatly. I turned to point the plane towards Pt. Loma, and I was advised by the control tower to hold 400 feet or lower. Two AV-8 Harriers would be making a low break over our position. The jets screamed overhead and one broke left leaving the other. This happened as the sun was slowly setting over the gorgeous San Diego skyline, and three brothers bid farewell to one of their own. It was a good day.
Once back home I paged through his log book and smiled again as I noticed several entries by Glen that included ferrying my kids up the coast to their mom. Then I closed out his log book for the last time.
See you on the other side Glen.
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