It's hard to forget your first trip to an aircraft carrier. They are so big — other ships docked anywhere near a carrier seem to shrink in size. They often bristle with military power. The flight decks always feel enormous. And so many people. An aircraft carrier is like a small floating town. I come from Windsor, Nova Scotia, population 3500 people — a carrier has almost twice as many people.
One of my earliest memories from childhood was visiting the HMCS Bonaventure, at the time the only aircraft carrier in the Canadian armed forces. The Bonnie was a British carrier, bought by the Canadian government. My dad was friends with its captain and we got a tour. I still remember the exhilarating sensation of standing on one of the "elevators" in the ship's hanger as it shot up towards the flight deck.
But compared to the USS Nimitz, the Bonnie was a pipsqueak. Life on the Nimitz is the subject of a new PBS documentary, Carrier. We'll be talking to two of the young sailors featured in the 10-hour series on Thursday's show. You can get a sneak peek about life on the Nimitz here.