I'd never been on a flight deck that quiet.
There were little clusters of people here and there. Two, three to a group. People were saying goodbye, but for some reason it didn't feel sad. It was like the quiet before a wedding, rather than the funeral we all knew it to be.
I saw a pilot I didn't know manhandle a tech twice her size against a Rapier and kiss the hell out of him. I saw Chris and Jeanette just smiling at each other. I saw Kevin calmly preflighting his ship for the fifth time. I saw Davis, one of the kids plucked right out of basic flight, savoring a carrot with a huge grin on his face.
Three Zero Two surely didn't look unique, just your average, slate grey F-44G. Reasonably clean, well maintained, a hull patch here, a scratch or a greasy footprint there. No kill markings, no shark's mouth, no flamboyant paint scheme. Not even a name on the canopy rail.
I know people thought I was stupid for kissing my ship before every mission. People thought I was stupid for a lot of reasons. But that ship- when I kissed her, I swear she kissed back.
Three Zero Two was something special.