Last night we did our show live from Nellis Air Force Base (search). We had a few "surprises." Within 30 seconds of the show starting, I was told by my New York producer via my earpiece that I could not go to our first guest, [FOX News Correspondent] David Lee Miller, in Baghdad. We could not establish contact with him. So we did a quick shuffle of our "A block" guests and I went first to [FOX News Correspondent] Brian Wilson in D.C. While this may seem like an insignificant problem, it is a bit of a bigger one for me in that as the show starts, I have no idea whether I will ever have David Lee Miller. So, do I stay longer with Brian Wilson? Go to break early? I don't know what will happen and I am the mercy of my NY producer since I can't ask (by that time I am on air.) I have to wait for her to tell me. While Brian Wilson was talking, I was told we had established contact with David Miller and thus I was able to go to him in the "A block."
Our "B block" was also a surprise. We were supposed to have 3 guests — including 2 from the town where the American Marine who has been captured lives. During the commercial break I was told they would not make the show (they were at a vigil for the Marine.) This meant we had to quickly plan to do the entire block with the single guest on another topic (the cruel murder of PFC Maupin.)
After the first two blocks, it was clear sailing and, for me, the show was really fun. Since we were live from Nellis, we had the chance to show off the new F/A 22 stealth fighter plane. If you saw the show, you know that I flew on an F-16 on Sunday and we tried to keep up with the F/A 22 in the air. The best way to describe our efforts in the F-16: "fat chance!"
Picture No. 1 is of me with the two pilots — the one who flew me in the F-16 and the other who flew the F/A 22. My F-16 pilot is also training to fly the new F/A 22 and has flown it many times. The picture was taken in the hangar in front of the F-16
Picture No. 2 is a close up of the insignia on the F-16. It's named "the squadron."
On Sunday, in order for you to get an idea of what the F/A 22 can do vis-a-vis the F-16, my cameraman Bob Lee flew along side in a second F-16. How he managed to video while pulling 5 G's is beyond my comprehension. Even more astounding is that he was able — on the road — to "cut" the video tape to make that 3 minute "package" we showed you last night. (If you missed that package or want to see it again, we have video streamed it on this Web page.) It would be a lot easier to cut a package in the bureau but instead he did it in the microwave truck. I wanted the pilots to see it before we aired it, so I brought them to the truck.
Picture No. 3 is the pilots watching the package.
Picture No. 4 is cameraman (and "editor extraordinaire") Bob Lee in the truck showing the package.
Picture No. 5: During the show we showed you the interior of the F/A 22. I had to get up and walk about 40 feet from the set we created (two chairs in front of the camera) in order to show you the interior. Believe it or not, we walked it thru before the show. Picture 5 is my field producer and a cameraman as we talk about how to do it.
Picture No. 6: To give you an idea of how nice the people are at Nellis Air Force Base, they gave Bob Lee and me a framed picture of ourselves in front of our F-16's in our flight suits. Picture 6 is when it was given to me. To say I loved it, and that I was flattered so understates how I felt.
Picture No. 7 is Bob getting his framed picture. I know he felt like I did!
Picture No. 8: Everybody in TV gets makeup whether you are an anchor, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Defense, President of the United States etc! Gender is irrelevant — we all get it. Here is my F-16 pilot getting make up for his television debut and, of course, we all teased him. I figure I would tease him further by putting this picture on the blog!! Check out his fellow soldiers laughing in the background.
Picture No. 9 (see photo essay): I could not let the pilot of the stealth fighter get away without his buddies seeing him get make up, too. In picture No. 9, you see the F/A 22 fighter pilot get his powder! By the way, after the show, I never saw two guys remove make up faster.
Picture 10 (see photo essay) is of a pilot who 'escaped' make up last night. If you are a loyal "On The Record" fan you will recognize him — Major Randy Redell. He is a pilot with the Thunderbirds whose home base is Nellis. I flew with him — mostly upside down — last May at Andrews Air Force Base (search) and he stopped by to see the show. The Thunderbirds (search) had just returned hours earlier from an air show in Janesville, Wisconsin. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see him again. And yes, when he was on our show after I flew with the Thunderbirds, he had make up on!
Here is the evidence — Picture 11 (see photo essay) shows the two pilots with the "wipes" to get their TV make up off.
Finally, and I suppose I don't need to tell you this. But these men (and all our fighter pilots I have met) are brave, competent and dedicated. People have asked me if I had any fear flying in a fighter plane and I had none. Their competence and confidence is contagious and any apprehension is immediately wiped away. You know they know what they are doing. Spending any time with them leaves you only in awe.
Do you have something you'd like to say to Greta? Please write to her at email@example.com!
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET