When the C's first went over to Hawaii 2 1/2 years ago, we talked about making a visit over there. But Micah was little, and then I got pregnant with Drew before he even turned 1, and then last year was so crazy busy even without having Drew . . . and needless to say, we didn't fit a visit to Hawaii in! But now we're thinking about it again. This year is really our last chance to do anything like this with Nathan, since hopefully he'll be taking classes like calculus and physics at the community college next year, and then the next year he'll be gone!
So yesterday I spent a good deal of time researching space-a travel to Hawaii. For those of you who aren't familiar with space-a, it is basically really, really cheap (like less than $20 per person for an overseas flight) air travel on military aircraft that are on missions, but have extra room. When my family growing up was stationed in Okinawa, we space-a'd around the Pacific quite frequently. Sometimes there were chartered regular jets (this is how Bob and I hopped over to Germany for our honeymoon--on a regular passenger airplane from the old MAC terminal at the St. Louis airport), but mostly you fly on military aircraft. For us back then, that meant C-130s and C-141s, but now there are different newer cargo aircraft. Sometimes they put regular airplane seats in the middle of the cargo bay, but sometimes you just get the webbed "jump seats" that line the sides of the aircraft. Those aren't particularly comfortable, but hey--they are really cheap, LOL. Also, the cargo bay is cold, since you are flying at a high altitude and it isn't heated, and you have to wear earplugs because it's really loud. But did I mention how very cheap it is?! Pretty much the only way a family of 11 could consider making an overseas trip, that is for sure!
Regulations have changed for space-a travel in the past 20 years. For one thing, now dependents can travel within the continental US ("CONUS). Before, we could only travel overseas. This is good because most military flights for Hawaii leave from the west coast, specifically Travis AFB in California. There appear to historically have been a fairly regular amount of flights from Andrews AFB to Travis, so hopefully we could make one of those, and then catch a hop on to Hickam AB in Hawaii.
Since Bob is now a retiree, and retirees and their dependents are the lowest possible category of who is eligible for space-a travel (category 6), and since we need 11 seats, it could be difficult. But we are looking at going in February, so not during any holiday rush, spring break, or summer craziness. Hopefully there will be some big planes heading west with lots of extra seats!
So I have "friended" a bunch of passenger terminals on Facebook, so I can keep track of what flights somewhat routinely go in and out, and how many seats are available. Of course right now, with all the government shutdown craziness, there aren't very many flights. Hopefully that will be resolved soon, though. It's crazy to be thinking of a big vacation like this, but what fun it would be if it works out! The kids are so totally excited about our potential adventure!