2022 Reunion – The Trip to Nellis

From Leo – Wednesday morning, we gathered to board two buses that were to take us to the Weapons School at Nellis AFB. Getting the bus through the gate at Nellis is very difficult when some passengers and the driver do not have Military IDs. If it were not for Lt Col Adam Rudolphi, the Weapons School Ops Officer who worked some kind of miracle that allowed us to drive right in. Bob (Herk) Herculson, an SSS member went to the base Pass and ID to find out entry requirements prior to our arrival.

A problem arose when one of the busses was not in place to pick up half of the 96 members waiting at the hotel. For some unknown reason, he was sent out to some point near Nellis for the pick-up point. The first bus left to wait for the second bus at the Nellis gate. He was about 45 minutes late. We met L/C Rudolphi and he escorted us to the Weapons School including the second bus which finally arrived.

We were all seated in the auditorium and Adam briefed us on how the weapons School has changed from its inception to become the multi-function unit that it is today. He then introduced L/C Chad (Bat) Orzechowki who gave us a briefing on the current status and capabilities of the F-35. He is extremely well versed on this subject and it was very well received by the SSS members. No surprise to find out he is on the Colonel select list. We were all amazed that one pilot was able to handle all the tasks this high-tech system made available and still fly the airplane.

The bus problem continued. After the F-35 briefing, we all went outside to observe and take photos of and with the F-100 monument Rock. Don Shepperd spearheaded this project that is on display outside the entrance to the Weapons School. The buses were then supposed to take us to the club on base for lunch.

En route to Nellis, the busses developed a problem with the onboard toilets that overflowed with a terrible smell. After dropping us off the drivers left to find a dump station and they had to clean the mess. They had not returned when it was time for lunch. Some of the younger SSS members walked to the club while Adam our sponsor called the base motor pool that sent an Air Force bus to shuttle the rest of us. We notified the club that 95 extra people would be coming to lunch and they handled it well. The rented busses returned and we went back to the WS for the 2nd briefing. Things were now back on track and our members handled the situation like nothing unusual happened. What a great group of people.

The 2nd briefing was given by Kevin Wilson, retired Lt/Col F-16 pilot. He is now the chief pilot and senior program manager at Top Aces. It is a company that was founded to perform adverse air requirements to train Air Force and Navy Fighter Pilots. They fly recently purchased F-16 aircraft from the Israeli Air Force and Navy A-4s. Kevin happens to be the son of Crow and Meta Wilson, obviously very proud parents. Kevin’s briefing was also very interesting, and I think some of us were thinking we were born a little too early. He knows the inside and out of adverse air and not only talked about Top Aces but other companies working with the fighter community. In spite of the toilets, the trip to Nellis was very well received.

See the whole funny Robin Williams clip here.

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