Eldest had his very first field trip of his short life today, and it was the coolest field trip he had ever been on. I was chaperoning, and it was the coolest field trip I had ever been on.
One of Eldest's classmates' dads set this up -- he is a helicopter pilot for the Army. The class met at the Guard unit's headquarters at a small airport in the valley. It wasn't a long trip -- these are 3-year-olds, after all -- but we did get to see a Blackhawk and an Apache helicopter. I hope the kids thought it was as cool as Dad did. The Blackhawk is a transport helicopter, this one wasn't armed but was open for all the kids to see, and sit in! Eldest actually sat in the cockpit of a working Blackhawk! The Apache was just as cool, it had its armaments (though not armed) attached and the hatches open so the kids could see (but they weren't allowed in, it's just a two-seat gunship).
Remembering field trips from my youth, this was so much better than boring trips to arboretums or replica pioneer villages or Norridge Park. It was great, too bad only the adults will have decent memories of it. One thing did put the trip into perspective -- on the Apache, there was something that looked like cylindrical disco ball on top of the helicopter near the rotor. I asked the major (the classmate's dad) what it was, I forgot what he called the device but said it was to throw off incoming guided missiles aimed at the Apache. Kind of a somber reminder that amid the wonder of the day, these helicopters and the people who showed us them are involved in something very serious.