Flying is an inherently dangerous venture for man as we were created as land-dwellers with our eyes to the sky longing to be there. Due to this inherently dangerous nature, I have often heard it said that if you stay in this business long enough you will know someone who loses their life in it. This is a near certainty as a military member.
It turns out that it took five years for me.
As avid followers of aviation, I am sure you are all aware of the C-130J that crashed near Jalalabad, Afghanistan last week. Very little has been released on the accident itself, which is good because it does no good to speculate before all of the necessary information can be gathered to understand what actually happened.
What has been released are the names of the airmen that lost their lives in this tragedy. For many people these are simply names. For others they are American Heroes, and rightly so because they are. However, there is a small group of people who knew them, and I just happen to be one of them.
The first time I met Capt Jonathan Golden he was simply Officer Trainee Golden in the early days of Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base. By no means were we close friends during our time at Maxwell, but I was always impressed with the quiet leadership of Jonathan. While I never flew with him, I would imagine that he is exactly the type of pilot I would have loved working with.
It always impacts me as an aviator when I hear about a plane crash, and even more so when it is a military aircraft. There is nothing we can do to bring these great servants back, but what we can do is learn from this accident so it never happens again, and we can hold them in our memory so that they are never forgotten.
So before you go and fly again take a moment to make sure that you are being as safe as you can be, and take a moment to remember the names Capt. Jonathan Golden, Capt. Jordan Pierson, Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn Johnson-Harris, Senior Airman Nathan Sartain and Airman 1st Class Kcey Ruiz. They gave their lives doing something they loved so that we can all remain free.