Understanding a dream

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affiars
The helicopter touched down, the blades sliced through the air and the wind raged all around me as I climbed on board. Rapidly buckling myself into the gunner's belt and I looked down from the opened door and watched in disbelief as we rose further away from the ground. With the violent wind still whipping against me, I sat forward to see the base slowly disappear on the horizon.

All I thought was: my dad did this plenty of times. After all the years of hearing fantastic stories growing up, I started to understand the thrill. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Lott, my dad, has been a pilot for almost 20 years now.

Joining the Army in 1989, my dad was an enlisted aeroscout observer in OH-58 Scout helicopters and finally became the pilot of the same aircraft.

When I saw the Marine UH-1 Huey land at Mountain Home Air Force Base with such ease I wondered if the crew could sense my eagerness, I imagined a photo of my dad ready for takeoff wearing a very questionable mustache from the early '90's.

Ever since my dad was a child, he wanted to be a pilot and he wasn't going to step away from that path. He was a Sgt. in the Army before going to Warrant Officer Flight Training and becoming a Chief Warrant Officer. When I look at photos of my dad, I smile at his grin and goofy mustache standing in his flight suit.

Growing up in the Army, I moved around every three years. The only consistent fixture was the flightline. After flying helicopters, my dad transitioned to fixed wing flying RC - 12s. When I was little and would walk through the hangers, I felt the wideness and even with the aircraft resting inside, I felt as if the building would go on forever.

The slight burn in my nose from the jet fuel was always a welcoming aroma growing up. While everything changed around me, the metallic scents of tools and jet fuel always remained my constants in life.

Growing up, I had many opportunities to sit in the cockpit of my dad's planes, to look through the windshield and play with the throttle pretending I was a pilot like my dad. This time was different. This was the first time that I boarded a helicopter about to take off. The sounds of the engine filled my whole being, I buzzed with excitement.

Flying in the helicopter I never felt more at peace; I could have easily just closed my eyes and pretended that I was home. Instead, I looked forward at the pilots. For a moment that lasted for what felt like ever, I thought of my dad turning around with a goofy grin laughing, "Buckle up! We don't want you to fall out!"

Watching my dad's career as a third party, I have always been amazed. My dad always wanted to be pilot and he went out and did it. Now I am starting a career of my own, I had the opportunity to look at the Marine Corps pilots and think: they get to see what the world has to offer. They get paid to do a job they love, just like my dad and now - me.

Being young, I always knew my dad had the most fascinating job. He would come home from a temporary duty telling us where he had gone, and what he had seen. I would pretend I was walking with him seeing the same things he was seeing. Now, I feel as though I have at least partially walked in the footsteps he had left behind. Though we serve in two different branches, I am now one boot step away from understanding my dad's dream.