Sunday, January 1, 2012

Are We There Yet?...Are We There Yet?

My first full fledged alert was to be had at my "new" home, November-01.  November was located some 15 to 20 miles east of Lewistown, yet in actuality closer to Grass Range.  Like most trips to the 490th's sites, time was an ever present factor.  In order to reach November-01, you simply took US Hwy 87 from Great Falls/Malmstrom and just kept driving.

As customary in the crew hierarchy, the deputy usually did the driving.  I recalled that T.J. and I had well passed Charlie-01 near Standford when I asked, "How much farther?"  T.J. merely smiled and replied, "Man, were not even out of the 10th's squadron area, we've not yet entered the 490th's." 

Nearing Hilger, we pulled into Eddie's corner for a cup of coffee.  Eddie's corner was, and still is, the unofficial boundary separating the 10th SMS and  the 490th SMS.  In actuality, the 10th's Echo Flight crews still continued on to Lewistown, then traversed north towards Winifred to reach E-01.  From Eddies Corner, one could continue on Hwy 87 and eventually reach November Flight, or turn north at Lewistown and head for Oscar Flight with O-01 located on the outskirts of Roy.  Take the road south from Eddie's Corner and one reached the Lima and Kilo 490th's sites.

Upon reaching  Lewistown, I asked T.J., "Are we almost there?"  Again, a smile and T.J. said, "Just 10 to 15 more miles to go."

Finally we arrived at November-01 Launch Control Facility, closer to Grass Range than Lewistown.  Approximate driving time from Malmstrom 3 hours!  I would make this trip religiously to November for the next year.  I swear that even today, I could drive this route in my sleep with no appreciable problem at all.