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[双语阅读] 空军一号乘务员的秘密任务

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发表于 2010-2-26 23:22 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式


空军一号等政府高官专用机上的乘务员,
他们不仅要接受生存技巧和飞机遇险救护的培训,
烹饪技艺也是不可忽视的一方面。





 

Senior Airman Amanda Fauci's job is so sensitive she has nearly the same security clearance as a Secret Service agent. She sometimes goes on weeks-long classified assignments.

But on a recent mission, the 23-year-old was struggling. Her Texas-shaped sugar cookies made from prepared dough 'blew up,' she says. She ended up making a new batch from scratch at home that night. The next day, she served them to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, former President George H.W. Bush and other VIPs aboard a Boeing 757 bound for College Station, Texas.

'There was a sense of panic there for a moment' when the initial batch flopped, says Airman Fauci, a five-year service veteran. Working on her time off is all part of 'getting the mission done,' she says.

The Air Force is looking for a few good men and women like Ms. Fauci: flight attendants who staff Air Force One and 16 other luxury planes that ferry government dignitaries around the globe.

It's not as easy finding recruits as one might think. The 150 members of the Andrews-based group and about 70 others stationed elsewhere -- all Air Force enlisted personnel, trained in survival skills, aircraft emergencies and the culinary arts -- take on duties that would make commercial flight attendants want to pull the rip cord.

For security and historical reasons, it's up to them to plan menus, buy food and supplies, prepare meals, load luggage into the cargo hold and then, dressed in understated navy suits, tend to powerful and demanding passengers on trips that can last weeks. Though they sometimes get luxury accommodations in exotic locales, they are on call around the clock and endure unpredictable schedules, 11-hour flights and overnighting in tents in Iraq -- not to mention vacuuming the aircraft cabins during fuel stops and washing many, many dishes.

'My friends say, 'I wouldn't do your job if they gave me a bonus,'' says Tech. Sgt. Allison Miller, a 10-year Air Force attendant. But the 15-year service veteran says she took the job to travel and figures, 'I've seen the world twice.'

The 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews spent the past six months on an unprecedented recruiting drive to lure enlisted men and women to volunteer for the job and, to a lesser extent, to attract pilots. When Air Force One and other planes in the iconic blue and white color scheme were on stops at Air Force bases around the country, the wing invited service members to come take a look. Frequent fliers Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney made video testimonials.

Despite the prestige the duty confers, the wing was having trouble finding the quantity and quality of candidates needed, and the right mix of ages and ranks to keep the operation from being top-heavy, says Maj. Kurt Kremser, a pilot who runs personnel in the wing. But the Air Force says the effort -- a large part of it simply making it known that such jobs exist -- is paying off: The service found enough attendants to fill spots in the year ended in September and is well on its way to filling openings for this fiscal year.

The Air Force attendants start at about the same pay -- around $40,000 a year -- as senior commercial attendants, but they can eventually earn considerably more. They also receive flight pay and per diems when traveling, and hazard pay for flights that go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. For some, the goal is to be selected to fly exclusively on the two 747s that serve President Bush, although those duties don't bring extra pay.

Tech. Sgt. Christina Sheridan, 32, earns it by flying blind, deep in the belly of a C-17 cargo plane. She staffs one of two 'silver bullets,' Airstream-type trailers fitted out with communications suites, a compartment for the VIP and his or her aides, and lavatories. The trailers nestle inside the giant planes so no one knows a VIP is on board.

'Some places you wouldn't want a blue and white to go,' she says cheerfully. 'I spend a lot of time in Iraq, Bagram [Afghanistan] and Kabul. We do the same cooking but we serve on plastic instead of glass.'

Staff Sgt. Jon Jackson recalls a trip where the 'distinguished visitor,' or DV, had approved a menu choice of steak or chicken for the entree. But the DV suddenly got a taste for salmon. So the plane radioed ahead and on a fuel stop in Ireland, attendants made a quick trip to procure salmon for 50 people. Sgt. Jackson, working with a tiny sink and a cutting board in the rear galley, did his best to fillet and cook the fish himself.

'Some things we can't do,' says Tech. Sgt. Monique Townsend, who has spent seven of her 18 years in the service as an attendant. 'You can't always get 50 pieces of mahi-mahi,' she says. 'But 'When are we going to eat?' are the first words out of their mouths. Food is No. 1.'

That was evident when Airman Fauci contacted the defense secretary's office to discuss meal preferences for the trip to College Station and back. Pulled-pork sandwiches won out over chicken fettuccini for lunch on the outbound leg. Buffalo chicken salad and steak fajita wraps, the options for the return flight, lost out to chicken Caesar salads.

The day before the flight, six attendants, including Airman Fauci, met at the Andrews base commissary at 8 a.m. in their green, one-piece flight suits to shop for supplies. They quickly filled six shopping carts with everything from frozen onion rings to premade potato salad, baked beans, chicken, grapes, romaine lettuce and the offending sugar-cookie dough. Ms. Fauci lingered over the maraschino cherries, trying to decide whether to buy ones with stems or without, for the Shirley Temple welcome drink she had planned. The tab came to about $500.

Back at squadron headquarters, the six unloaded the supplies in a big industrial kitchen and set to work. Master Sgt. Kenneth Jack, designated the main cook on the trip, browned off some sausage for breakfast burritos the crew would be served on the return leg, then placed chicken breasts in a foil pan. 'I'm going to trim it up, season it and then grill it' for the Caesar salads, he says.

That night, while Ms. Fauci was decorating the new cookies with red, white and blue sprinkles, Sgt. Jack was at his house jazzing up the canned baked beans with a recipe he pulled off the Internet. 'Everything is dressed up so it doesn't seem to come out of a can,' explains Sgt. Jackson.

On the day of the flight, a nervous Ms. Fauci -- it was her first trip as lead attendant overseeing the other five and charged with personally serving the DV -- insisted they meet three hours before departure instead of the usual two. So at 9:15, the six, in their dressy flying uniforms unadorned by rank or ribbons, started loading the food, in boxes and coolers, into a van, and then onto the 757.

Airman Fauci, a diminutive blonde, was working in supply management on the flight line of an F-16 squadron in New Mexico two years ago. When she told her base commander she planned to leave the service at the end of her four-year stint and apply to be a flight attendant at Southwest Airlines, the officer put her in touch with the 89th Airlift Wing. Soon after she was selected, Ms. Fauci re-enlisted for four more years. She has traveled to foreign destinations ranging from Australia to Belgium, serving first lady Laura Bush and members of Congress.

When it came time to serve the new cookies on Secretary Gates's trip to College Station, the extra work paid off. They 'were so much better,' she says. And when the passengers noticed they were shaped like Texas, 'they thought that was awesome.'

 

资深空军士兵阿曼达•费希(Amanda Fauci)的工作非常敏感,她需要通过的安全检查简直和美国特勤局(Secret Service)的特工差不多。有时侯,她更要执行长达几周的秘密任务。

不过,在最近一次执行任务期间,这位23岁的空军士兵感到异常艰难。她说,自己用面团制成的德克萨斯州状小甜饼全都报废了。那天夜里,她只好回家从头再做一批。第二天,她要在前往德州克利奇站(College Station)的波音757飞机上将这些小甜饼提供给国防部长罗伯特•盖茨(Robert M. Gates)、前总统老布什(Robert M. Gates)以及其他重要人物享用。

border=0阿曼达•费希说,第一批小甜饼报废的时候,她一时间有一种恐惧感。这位有着5年空勤服务经验的乘务员表示,下班以后还要继续工作都是为了“完成任务”。

美国空军(Air Force)正在招募少数象阿曼达•费希这样有着良好记录的男女乘务员,他们将在空军一号(Air Force One)和其它专门为政府高官提供全球飞行服务的16架豪华飞机上效力。

要找到这样合格的乘务员并非人们想象的那么容易。美国空军的这类飞行人员有150人驻扎在安德鲁空军基地,还有大约70人驻扎在其它地区,他们无一例外地都要接受生存技巧、飞机遇险救护以及烹饪技艺方面的培训,这些乘务员所履行的职责通常会让商务航班上的乘务员直想赶紧逃脱。

出于安全和历史原因,这些乘务员的职责包括拟定菜单,采购食品和必需品,准备膳食,将行李装入货舱,当然还要身着海军制服为那些位高权重、要求苛刻的乘客提供服务,这样的旅行可能会持续几周。虽然他们有时侯能在海外获得入住豪华酒店的优待,但是他们必须24小时待命,并且忍受无法预知的行程安排,比如连续飞行11小时,在伊拉克的帐篷里度夜,更不要提在飞机加油时打扫机舱,清洗数也数不过来的餐盘。

有着10年役龄的空军乘务员、上士埃里森•米勒(Allison Miller)说,“我的朋友们都说,即使给奖金他们也不愿做我的工作。”不过,这位有着15年空乘服务经验的乘务员表示,她之所以接受这份工作,完全是为了旅行和丰厚的报酬,“我已经绕地球两圈了。”

过去六个月里,安德鲁空军基地的美国空军第89空运联队(The 89th Airlift Wing)展开了一次前所未有的招募行动,希望吸引现役军人前来应聘空中乘务员,同时也捎带招募一批飞行员。在这次蓝白标识计划中,当空军一号和其它专机在全美各地的空军基地停靠后,第89空运联队会邀请当地军人亲临一观。国务卿康多莉扎•赖斯(Condoleezza Rice)和副总统迪克•切尼(Dick Cheney)等专机常客还通过视频录像对这一行动作了推荐。

负责第89空运联队内部人员调动的少校飞行员库尔特•克雷姆斯(Kurt Kremser)表示,尽管这份工作能带来莫大的荣耀,空运联队还是在吸引到足够数量的合格候选人方面遇到了麻烦;此外,为了避免人员队伍过于头重脚轻,空运联队在合理调配各个年龄和级别的人员方面也遇到了重重困难。不过,美国空军表示,此次行动的主要目的其实就是让大家了解军方提供这样一份工作,而且这一努力也确实取得了一定成效。空运联队已经找到了足够多的乘务员填补截至9月份的职位空缺,而且填补本财政年度内职位需求的工作也进展得颇为顺利。

空军乘务员的起始年薪约为4万美元,和资深商务飞机乘务员差不多。不过,他们最终的薪资水平可能会高出许多。除了正常薪资,他们在旅行期间还能获得航班补贴和出差津贴;如果是在前往伊拉克和阿富汗等危险地区的航班上服务,还能获得危险补偿费。对于一些空军乘务员来说,他们的目标是被选中专门在布什总统的两架波音747专机上服务,虽然这样的职责并不会带来额外的报酬。

现年32岁的上士克里斯蒂娜•谢里丹(Christina Sheridan)哪里都飞。飞行时她身处C-17货机的腹部地带。她是两辆流线型“银弹”拖车上的工作人员,此类拖车配备有通信套间,一节专供VIP及其助手的车厢,以及洗手间。拖车栖息在庞大的飞机体内,因此没人知道有重要人物登机。

她高兴地说:“有一些地方你肯定不会想去。我在伊拉克、Bagram(阿富汗)和喀布尔呆了很长时间。我们烹制一样的东西,但是我们用塑料而不是玻璃器皿盛装。”

中士乔恩•杰克逊(Jon Jackson)记得,有一次旅途中,当时那位“特别来宾”(Distinguished Visitor,也称DV)本已选择牛排或者鸡肉作为主菜。不过突然间他又想吃鲑鱼了。于是飞机在爱尔兰的一个加油点停靠后,乘务员立刻下飞机为50名乘客采购鲑鱼。杰克逊中士的工作地点就在飞机后部的厨房里,那里有一个小水池,一块切肉板,杰克逊就这样忙活起来,尽力把鱼切成片,然后亲自烹饪美味。

担任空军乘务员长达18年的上士莫尼卡•唐森德(Monique Townsend)表示,“有些事情我们没法做到,”她说,“你不可能总是能搞到50人份的毛伊鱼吧。但是,他们说出的第一句话总是‘我们今天吃什么?’食物是第一位的。”

这一点显然不错,难怪乎阿曼达•费希会联系国防部长办公室专门讨论往返克利奇站途中的膳食选择。在前往克利奇站的航班上,他们选择了手撕猪肉三明治、而不是鸡肉面条作为午餐。而在返航航班上,他们选择了鸡肉凯撒沙拉,而不是香辣鸡肉沙拉和牛排卷饼。

起飞前一天,包括阿曼达•费希在内的6名乘务员身着绿色的一件式飞行制服,于早上8点在安德鲁空军基地的物资供应所集合,采购飞行必需品。他们很快就在6个购物推车里塞满了各种各样的食物,从冷冻洋葱圈到半成品土豆沙拉、烤豆、鸡肉、葡萄、莴苣,还有惹出麻烦的甜饼生面团,不一而足。费希女士在酒浸樱桃柜台边逛了片刻,试图决定她计划调制的Shirley Temple开胃饮料是用有茎的樱桃好,还是没有茎的樱桃好。整个采购花费了大约500美元。

回到空军中队总部后,六人将必需品卸到一间大型工业厨房内,然后开始工作。军士长肯尼思•杰克(Kenneth Jack)指定了此次航班的主厨,将一些香肠烹调直至呈现棕褐色,这些香肠是为返航早餐计划提供的墨西哥玉米煎饼准备的,然后又把鸡胸肉放在一个贴箔平底锅里。他说,我准备将它稍事打理后调味烘烤,用于凯撒沙拉。

当晚,在费希女士用红、白、蓝三色装饰新制成的小甜饼时,军士长杰克正在自己家里依照他从互联网上下载的一份菜谱调制罐装烤豆。杰克解释说,每样东西都经过了考究的调理,因此看起来就不再象是从罐头里拿出来的。

起飞当天,费希女士非常紧张──这可是她第一次担任乘务长,负责监督其他5位乘务员,同时亲自为DV提供服务。费希女士坚持在起飞前三小时、而不是通常的两小时就开始集合。因此,在9点15分,6名乘务员身着考究的飞行制服(没有任何军衔或者绶带装饰)就开始将盒子和冷却器里的食物装载到一个货车上,然后装上波音757飞机。

两年前,身材娇小、一头金发的阿曼达•费希还在新墨西哥某F-16空军中队的飞行线上从事供应管理方面的工作。当她告诉基地指挥官她打算在四年服役期满后离开,申请西南航空公司(Southwest Airlines)的乘务员职位时,指挥官让她与第89空运联队进行联系。在她入选后不久,费希女士将服役期限延长了四年。迄今为止,她已经飞过从澳大利亚到比利时等多个国家,为第一夫人劳拉•布什(Laura Bush)和国会议员们提供服务。

在国防部长盖茨前往克利奇站的航班上,又到了供应小甜饼的时间了。这一次,乘务员额外的努力取得了成效。费希女士说,它们看起来好了很多。当乘客们注意到小甜饼正是德州的形状时,他们都觉得简直太棒了。

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