Posted by: kristabella | January 28, 2008

Planes, Buses and Fighter Jets

Part of my job when I was with the 49ers was to handle some of the advances for the team for road trips. No, not advances from the players. Although, I handled those pretty well, if I do say so myself. (ba dum dum.) And there was that one time one of the coaches grabbed my boobs in a bar in Appleton, Wisconsin.  

Anyway, as the advance person for a team, one would fly out to the city the team would be playing in that week and handle the logistics before the team arrived so that when they arrived, everything went off without a hitch. This included meeting with hotels to make sure the rooming lists were correct, meeting rooms were set up properly, meals were arranged for, which was a large task since you had to have quite a bit of food on hand for 300-pound offensive and defensive linemen, and security was in place. It also required meeting with the local stadium personnel so that when the owner was all “Hey, Kristin, where is the owner’s suite?” you didn’t look at him like a deer in headlights bobblehead and send him in the wrong direction.  

It also required meeting with the local airports. Because, well, professional sports teams don’t like to go through the terminal. And after 9/11, this wasn’t exactly the most kosher thing in air travel. It took a lot of coaxing by the NFL and local airline personnel. Which only helped when a team landed. When they departed the visiting city, they had to go through security like everyone else. Nothing like watching a multi-millionaire shed the shiny chain around his neck that cost more than any house I will ever own at the metal detectors. Or Bill Walsh getting wanded. But when they landed, they could de-plane right on the tarmac. And right onto buses. Which was a whole other headache, trying to get 5 huge buses through security in major airports. Hence the need for an advance person.  

I loved advancing. As you can see, it is a lot like meeting/event planning, which is a lot of what I do now. I was born to be good at that role. And I was. I was great as the 49ers advance person. There was never an issue. Including the time I had to get cookies for the coaches’ wives to be put in their rooms. Which I found out about two hours before the team was supposed to land. When I was on my way to the airport. This is a lesson for all of you. Be nice to your hotel contacts. And they can get you cookies!  And if you’re at the Ritz, they’ll even write each wife’s name on the plate in chocolate.

Two of my advances were really memorable. And both of them had to do with the airports. (Thanks to Rob for one of his planes posts from weeks ago that triggered my memory. Have I mentioned that my Google Reader is over 500 posts?)

My one memorable advance was my very first advance all by my lonesome. It was a preseason trip to San Diego. Unbeknownst to me, my boss flew down ahead of the team just in case I fucked things up. Little did he know. That I. Was. Awesome.

Because it was a preseason game to end the season on a Thursday night, we flew in and out of the United States Navy base on Coronado Island. Let me point out that this was post-9/11 and this is an ACTIVE Naval base.

But because San Diego wouldn’t let planes fly out past 10 PM at the municipal airport, and our game was starting at 7 PM, we needed a way out of there. Especially if we lost. Which, back in those days, was pretty much commonplace.

With it being my first advance, I was already freaking out enough. I didn’t want anything to happen to me so that I’d lose my advancing responsibilities. It’s the only time during the football season where you can take naps in the middle of the day. Or take a trip to the mall for some new bras and not have to deal with the crowds. Not that I did that or anything. I worked HARD.

But the pressure of this Naval base was freaking me out. Driving through the gates with men holding GUNS will do that to a person. Plus, military people don’t much care for the civilian types treading on their territory. I wanted to make a good impression. Little did I know, until after I left the base and went to lunch, that I spent the ENTIRE morning with my BARN DOOR OPEN! Nothing like a little shot of my panties to bring good will to a Navy base.

The guy we met with at the base was great. He told us the deal and thankfully the Niners United rep was with me so he could answer all the questions about draining the latrines and food service and all that nonsense. Because the big boys gotta eat after the game.

The only problem was, as Navy base guy kept telling me, if the terror level was raised. Then we’d be booted so fast from there we wouldn’t know our asses from a hole in the wall. And since I have a wee tendency of overreacting, I was imagining Pearl Harbor. And the team not being able to land. And that San Diego has really good Mexican food.

Nothing happened. The plane was delayed coming in for some odd reason. But as I chilled at the airport waiting for the plane, our Navy base guy asked me if I wanted a tour. Trying to stay professional and NOT jump up and do cartwheels, I told him that it would be nice to have a tour of the facility, thank you very much sir. Because when would I be on a Navy base again in my life? My bets were on never. Unless I flashed more than my crotch hole.

So he took me all over the base. (As I was freaking out because what if the team landed? Because I could totally miss a 767 flying RIGHT OVER MY HEAD.) He showed me some jets doing some practice runs. He took me to the “bird wash,” which is where the planes get cleaned. It’s weight sensored, so as soon as the plane rolls over it, jets of water leash a hurricane onto the jet to clean it. It comes up from the ground, seemingly out of NOWHERE, and gushes down on the plane. It is an amazing sight. (I’d show you a video, but sadly all I get on Google is bird flu and reminders to wash your hands if you touch a bird. Oh that and it is on a Naval base and national secrets and all that. Between this and hating the National Anthem, my voting rights will be taken away any day. Or I’ll be heading to Guantanamo. And my guess is they don’t have wireless there.)

The highlight had to be the sight as we were pulling back up to the buses. All of a sudden we were stopped because an F-18 fighter jet landed right in front of us. It was like straight out of Top Gun. And then, be still my beating heart, two Naval pilots got out of the cockpit. *Swoon*

Our Navy base guy got his camera and snapped a photo of us. Me sandwiched between Maverick and Ice Man. ME!! Sadly, I have NO idea where I put it. And I know it is on floppy disk, which does me no good anyway. But it was fan-flipping-tastic.

Even if I did have my zipper down.

Another exciting advance was in Seattle. We were too good for the Sea-Tac airport and got to fly into a private airfield, not far from the main airport. The good thing about this? No TSA. And things go a lot smoother, I tell ya.  

It was a Saturday afternoon and the plane was approaching the runway. I had my periodic updates through the walkie talkie from our security guy that they were getting close. Plus my airport contact was all over it.

So I was left to just stand around and do nothing. And look important. As I was standing there, doing important advancing duties that didn’t involve a nap or drinking, there was a fighter jet parked off to the side. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “I wonder what that is here for.”  

The Niners team plane landed. And since it was a 767 landing on a runway that usually handles those small, private jets, it took the entire piece of pavement for the plane to land on. I was pretty sure it was going through the wall on the other end of the airport. It landed, stopped with about a foot to spare and promptly turned around AWAY FROM US at the end of the runway. And then it just sat there.

I, of course, panicked. I was flipping out. There is no waiting! Plane lands. People de-plane. NO. WAITING.  

The bus drivers (more people you should be very, very nice to) and I were just sitting there wondering what the hell was going on. As I moseyed myself over to my airport contact to seem importabt, I found out why the plane was just sitting at the end of the runway. NOT close to the buses. And no passengers being let out. My career flashing before my eyes. Right at that moment, another plane was landing. And that plane had some words written on the side of it.  

Self to Self: “What does that say? President of the United…”

Self OUT LOUD: “Holy shit! That’s Air Force One!”  

Actually it was Air Force Two. Or whatever the plane is that the Vice President flies on. It’s like a midget version of Air Force One. Which makes sense since Dick Cheney is a robot and comfort is no need to a mess of wires and metal and electrical current.

So yeah. Right there, in front of my eyes, Dick Cheney’s plane landed. It was very exciting. The one Republican on the team about shit himself. Which is funny, since he was a six-foot-eight offensive lineman.

Sadly Thankfully, we didn’t see him get off the plane. It takes awhile to get the robot parts all back up and running. He uses that time during flights to recharge his internal processor. He’s like Vicki from Small Wonder when he flies.

It’s these moments where I miss working in sports. But then I remember that I have all my weekends free and get a lot of free booze. So it all evens out.

Even if there is no boob grabbing.



  1. I went to high school in Milwaukee, and had friends who went to college in Oshkosh, so I can pretty much guarantee you that even though you no longer work for the 49ers, if you walk yourself into any Appleton bar, random men will grab your boobs. A lot.
    Road trip?
    House of Jules

  2. That was hilarious and very interesting. I had no idea such a job existed. Sounds a bit stressful but those memorable moments would make up for it. That, and the naps.

  3. I completely forgot about the Top Gun story! Great post…

  4. That sounds like a really interesting job (except for the boob grab)!

    I like the part where you stand around and look important (did you have a walkie talkie?) 🙂

  5. When I first started reading this post, I thought … OMG, I HATED event planning … the logistics of 500 people in a hotel and it had to be under a certain $$ amount … blah blah fishcakes.

    But you made it sound so exciting! So glamorous!

    you know what is really sad? I had to sing that F’in FERGIE song in my head to know how to spell “glamorous.” And it’s not even Monday anymore.

  6. Sounds like you have read an intersting life. If you need some boob grabbing I am the poolside groper 😉

  7. Umm…hello…how has no one commented on the SMALL WONDER mention?! awesome.

  8. Note to moo: don’t rely on Fergie to spell “TASTY.”

    This was an awesome post. Also, if you care, I used to live on that naval base in Coronado. It was totally sweet, if I do say so my then-6 year old self.

  9. Holy crap I had forgotten about small wonder! And that is pretty damn funny, a guy that big crappin his pants over a VP. Pfft, he’s just another person, hello!

  10. Sign me up. I would LOVE that job. I’m way jealous of you now. In fact, I’m probably going to have to shun you because you’re just a little too cool for me.

  11. Great story! I’ve never heard that one. One time in college, one of my professors did an entire lecture with him fly open. Only one girl was rude enough to giggle…. Hey, I thought it was funny!!!

  12. oh man, i lerrrrve advancing! cleo’s in appleton and hot make out sessions on coach’s pool table in his suite! rum and coke from knuckles, anyone???

  13. You seriously have the best stories ever. And now you need to tell us the boob grabbing story.

  14. Back in the early 90’s, I worked at a State environmental organization, and had to do a permit for the large AFB in town. This base had over 200 buildings, covered 10 sqaure miles and was a major industrial complex where the largest military planes, the cargo planes, fuel transports, the large B1B bombers and the flying advanced warning planes would come in, get a total de-construction down to the last rivet, and rebuilt back up again.

    As I was driving through the base checking on its water discharges, I would stop every so often and take pics for documentation. I was at this one place, taking pics of some storm drains, when I see a HumVee coming at me fast with its blinking lights on. They pull over, and two MP’s with drawn M-16s get out and order me to the ground. I was with a base civilian engineer, and he gave them his ID and security badge. They let me get up but asked for my camera. We had to go to the base commanders office and talk to them, and they kept the film, and said they would develop it and give us back pics that did not have “security breaches” in them. It seemed I had in the background of some of my pics sensitive areas, so I didnt get many back.

    I went to work for this base some 2 years later and since i was the stormwater manager, I had to have full base security clearance. I got all but “Area X”, which was a small site where I found out was where nuclear weapons were stored when planes flying cross country that stopped there for overnight rest would be off loaded and stored like 150 feet below ground.

    The base was designed for the largest planes, had a 3 mile long main runway, which is a LONG runway. I saw the shuttle atop a military 737 two times as it would make its way from Edwards to Cape Kennedy. I liked that base, but it was only 10 square miles, and I wanted to rule over a larger area, so I now I work at a place that lets me rule over 5 states.

  15. It is called Air Force Two, which is awesome (even though the Veep is not).

    I have been on a plane that was forced to circle while Air Force One landed in Minneapolis. It just added to my general dislike of the Commander in Chief. (You got us into the Iraq War, and NOW you are making me sit in this uncomfortable seat for 15 more minutes when I have to PEE??? I am so voting Democrat!)

  16. Last year at work we were having a press conference with the mayor and I had to tell one of our VPs that he needed to zip his pants.

  17. Small Wonder…that is the best;)

  18. That sounds like sun a fun and stressful job. But more fun than anything.

    Dick Cheney…that had me laughing outloud!

  19. I need to watch Top Gun again soon. Awesome stories-advancing sounds like fun.

  20. Very interesting! I never thought about all that planning. Or how much Vicki from Small Wonder and D.C. are alike!

  21. A midget version..hahaha. Fabulous! As tough as your job is, it’s a great job, I’m so jealous! Wanna trade?

  22. Um, I think you should come do stuff for the Lions, because they obviously need *something*.

  23. What an awesome post. What an awesome life. Stop your whining, you had it good!

    But that’s the kind of job you can only do for a short while, when you’re young and too stupid to wonder why you’re doing it. Weekends free is a good thing.

  24. I used to work for a hotel near a college campus and always got to work with the team managers on setting up rooms/food/etc. It was only college sports so a lot less fancyness was needed but still amazing how much was required for the teams. Their menu requirements (even for breakfast) were two and three pages single spaced.
    Also, the home team stayed at the hotel on nights before big games and when they arrived the entire hotel staff had to come out with pom poms and cheer for them. It was so lame and I hated pandering to these spoiled college kids when I had work to do.

  25. Now I’d like to work in sports after reading this – just not for the Magic *LOL*

    I remember when I was reppin’ a teen band and their manager told me that I’d have to “advance” the tour and rather than do press which was my job, I’d have to travel a week ahead of the tour and make all the arrangements. Advance WHAT? was my response – c’mon now – it’s high schools and kids screaming. They could care less if its the second coming of Billy Ray Cyrus if it gets them out of class. Press was way more important and everything could be handled by phone. Apparently the Manager thought she was reppin’ NKOTB or Menudo and expected throngs of fans. No press = no fans.

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