Our tour guide was GRIA Public Relations Director, Mr. Samuel Cooper. A former Airport Director, Mr. Cooper knows just about everything there is to know about the airport inside and out.
We began our tour with Mr. Cooper's office. The kids were captivated with the view he had of the airfield from his office. He also had a tower of Matchbox cars and invited each kiddo to select a car to take home. He had seven instant little friends. Next, Mr. Cooper made a phone call and our very own shuttle bus arrived to pick us up outside his office. We felt like VIP's. For the kiddos that would translate to "Very Important Peanuts".
On board the bus, we went for a ride around the air field. Our first stop...the New York Air National Guard hangar. And guess what we saw...
....and boarded! They were busy preparing it for departure later today, but we were allowed to go on it. The kiddos could even take turns sitting in the cockpit...
The Army helicopter was definitely a highlight of our airport tour! When we were finished there, they raised the hangar doors and we boarded our "private bus". The driver drove us out to the far end of the airfield where we waited to see a plane take off. Not through the bus windows I'll have you, we exited the bus and stood in the grass outside the bus while we watched the plane take off (photo at top). Very cool!
Next stop...the airport fire house.
Not as cool as the helicopter or watching a plane take off a few hundred yards in front of you, but these aren't your standard fire trucks. They are specially equipped to handle jet fuel fires with water and foam. One truck had a special infrared detector that could find fires from a distance and then a special hook on the truck could pierce a hole into the aircraft to target the fire. But, of course, not where passengers are seated the fireman pointed out : )
After our tour was over, a couple of us decided to hang out in the airfield observatory. It's a small area on the west end of the second floor of the airport. There is a small food concession stand that offers snack foods and beverages. They also have kid-sized tables and chairs and floor to ceiling viewing windows, so a great spot to wind down and have a snack before heading home.
What a fun morning we had!