Friends celebrate Wings of Gold with cooking class.

For over 25 years, I have lived in a Gulf Breeze coastal neighborhood, where many of my neighbors have made this street their home for just as long, or longer. Across the water in the distance, with a pulsing flash, the lighthouse at the Naval Air Station illuminates our bedrooms at night.

The unique sights and sounds of Naval aviation are a daily treat – where the shriek of training jets and the rhythmic rumble of a passing convoy of choppers is the norm. Just offshore inside a vortex of sea water, swimmers are hoisted up and into these whirley birds. The unexpected roar of the Blue Angels on weekly practice mornings instantly diverts your gaze to the skies – putting a smile on your face. It’s a pretty cool place to live.

Chef Celia Casey hosts a cooking class in her home with longtime neighbor Alex Thompson and his flight school friends.  Thompson recently earned his Wings of Gold from NAS Whiting Field as a helicopter pilot.

The really neat thing about living in the same neighborhood for many years is getting to watch the kids become adults and choose their paths in life, so it was no surprise that Alex Thompson, who grew up across the street would choose a profession in Naval aviation . Always a high achiever in high school, Alex went on to major in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas and received his commission from the Naval Reserve ROTC Training Corps there. Happily, for his family, different phases of flight school brought him home to NAS Pensacola and Whiting Field.

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