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All-American Lucas Oil/Budweiser Outerlimits Team Hosts USNaval Aviator

Old 05-20-2009, 09:38 AM
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Default All-American Lucas Oil/Budweiser Outerlimits Team Hosts USNaval Aviator

Airports make for interesting meeting places and last year, while Nigel Hook and his wife, Janet Wilson, were stuck in the Glasgow Airport for hours, en route from the Powerboat P1 Awards ceremony, they met Lieutenant Commander Eric Lednicky, a U.S. Naval Aviator stationed in Bahrain. They talked to him about Powerboat P1’s plans to race there and kept in touch in hopes of hosting each other for tours of their respective “bases” when the team arrived in Bahrain.

LCDR Lednicky is a widely traveled and experienced pilot, having spent the past 14 years in flight, defending his country and protecting others, from Qatar to Africa and Iceland to Puerto Rico. He was also the Task Force 57 Operations Officer, responsible for all Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aviation activity in the Central Command Theater of Operations, supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and counter-piracy actions in Somalia. Though those titles and duties in the heart of the action in the Middle East may not relate to civilians’ daily lives, the Lucas Oil all-American team wanted to show their appreciation to LCDR Lednicky for his service and bravery and invited him to join them at a race in the near future.

This year, LCDR Lednicky happened to be en route to the U.S. for Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, when the team was racing in Malta. They made plans to meet there, a site LCDR Lednicky has flown over on his way to the Sigonella, Sicily, air base many times, but never landed! He arrived in time to see the PowerPole and marveled at the show of power. From spending two years as a “shooter” on an aircraft carrier, the officer who is responsible for getting the fighter jets on and off the runway, Lednicky was used to the noise, smell of jet fuel and the activity of a bustling, engine-focused work setting. “As the boat engines fired up, it made me feel right at home!” he laughed, “The pits reminded me of that experience!”

LCDR Lednicky said he enjoyed the excitement of meeting the teams, watching the activity and watching the Sprint race from the Hilton at St. Julians where he had the height perspective of the race course and heard the P1 radio transmission of all the action. On Sunday, he watched the Endurance race from the Captain Morgan viewing boat which was positioned at the B-turn buoy. When he saw the Cigarette do a dramatic spin-out and the Lucas Oil team do some quick maneuvering to avoid impact, he also related. “I know what it’s like when you’re in a cockpit and making those instinctive moves when your plan goes out of control!” he noted, “Both teams did some pretty amazing driving!”

Lednicky also enjoyed the hospitality of the Maltese, the great food and the night spent having dinner at the Hard Rock Café with the team, having a few “sponsor-provided Budweisers” and getting to know everyone. “Though these boats were a lot smaller than what I’m used to, they sure had plenty of power! It was really an exhilarating experience!” he said, “I’ve got to get back to Malta—you need at least a week to see everything!”

The Americans likewise enjoyed sharing the Powerboat P1 experience with LCDR Lednicky. “It was great for us to be able to show our appreciation to one of the guys who we consider heroes—the ones who make it possible to do all the things that we have the liberty to do in the U.S.,” said Hook, a proud British and United States dual citizen. “We’re so glad we had a chance meeting and the chance to meet again through Powerboat P1!” he added. The Californians will probably try to meet up in San Diego, Hook’s hometown before Lednicky finishes his Masters in Operational Analysis—and who knows, he might end up in the cockpit of one of Hook’s boats next!
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