Maybe all of our dreams will come true

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

Do you have a dream? Something that you have always wanted to do, but as of yet have not had the chance?

I have a couple. One of them, to drive a NASCAR-type stock car, may well come true — if I ever have several hundred dollars I can just cast to the wind and not worry about.

The other one is a bit more difficult.

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I have always wanted to spend some time on an aircraft carrier.

I was watching the National Geographic Channel last night, and they were doing a special on the USS Ronald Reagan, the latest carrier to hit the water.

I was glued to the couch as I watched the different segments on the flight deck, the propulsion system, crew quarters and much more.

These giants of the sea are incredible to me.

They carry thousands of sailors, constituting a floating city.

They have just about everything a person would need, including barber shops, a ship’s store and the like.

But the part I would like to see is the flight operations.

For eight years during the 70s I was in the Air Force. My job was that of an air traffic controller.

The biggest thrill of that job was working the fighters as they practiced takeoffs and landing.

But there is a big difference between landing and taking off on land and on an aircraft carrier — at least from what I can see.

It just amazes me that such a large aircraft can be catapulted into the air and then recovered on such a small surface — small compared to what one would find on terra firma.

When I say I would like to visit a carrier, I mean an active one.

I have been on the USS Yorktown, on permanent display in Charleston, S.C. That was pretty cool.

My parents and I spent about three hours on the ship, climbing the same ladders and walking the same corridors and flight deck that the sailors climbed and walked when the ship was active.

It was very interesting reading such things as the recipe for chocolate chip cookies for 5,000. I can’t remember how many eggs it called for, suffice to say the chickens would be really tired after filling that order.

On a subsequent trip to Charleston I toured a submarine. It was interesting, but not nearly as cool as the carrier.

I have talked to people who served on these giants, but listening to their stories and descriptions doesn’t come close to satisfying my curiosity.

There was a time when I might have been able to fulfill this dream of mine, but since the terrorist attacks of 2001 it is probably near impossible.

But I haven’t given up hope. Maybe some day …

Until then, I will continue to watch all of the documentaries on the ships. I never tire of them.

Your papers please

Speaking of how things have changed since Sept. 11, 2001, if your name has changed since your passport was issued, think again before planning an overseas trip without having that document updated.

We found out recently as Martha and friends of hers planned a trip for January.

In the six years we have been married, we never traveled anywhere a passport was needed, so she never had to change hers from her maiden to her married name.

In planning this forthcoming trip, she decided to check into it.

The document, according to government officials, must bear your current name. So, if you married or divorced, or for any other reason have a different name than appears on the passport, you might as well consider that document null and void.

So what to do?

Well, you can send the old passport and the supporting name-change papers — marriage, divorce, etc. — to the government and wait forever for it to come back. Or, if like my wife, you don’t have the time to wait weeks on end, you can pay extra money, then even more money for overnight postal service both ways and have everything done in about one week.

By necessity, we chose the latter. In the end it was worth it to have that passport in hand in time for the big trip.

Just something to think about in time for your next out-of-country excursion.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at, or 934-9603.