It was the perfect flying conditions – blue skies, barely any clouds, practically zero wind. Hammond knew if anyone could really test the new planes properly it would be the pilots of SG1, and no one deserved to blow off a little steam more than its two leaders.
The recent weeks had been tough – dodgy missions, a few skirmishes with the enemy and IOA breathing down their necks. The team had performed admirably, but Hammond could see their patience was wearing thin. Teal'c had been granted a few days reprieve off-world otherwise he would have been up there with them, testing out the new hybrid jet fighter/death gliders.
The General was smiling so Daniel had to guess it was going well. Both planes were still in the sky and no one had died yet, full marks all around? “All good?”
“They look fantastic.” Hammond lifted the microphone, “Looking good, SG1.”
“Yes, sir!” Jack voice echoed through the tinny speaker, swooping past them low enough to ruffle Daniel's hair. “This baby would really reduce my commute in the morning. Think I could swap my truck?”
“I don't think so, son,” his voice light with amusement. It was good to hear the humour back in the Colonel's voice. “Major Carter, everything working for you?”
“Yes, sir. All systems are showing optimal readings.”
Jack and Sam were flying side by side when the General's next message came through: “Why don't you both really put 'em through their paces?”
The helmet obscured the rise in Jack's eyebrows but Carter seemed to catch it by the smirk on her lips. “Think you can keep up, Major?”
She held the microphoned oxygen mask closer, “Oh don't worry, Sir, I'll slow down for you.”
Sam was already away before Jack had reattached his mask. “Sonova-Oh, it's gonna be like that is it?”
Daniel rolled his eyes, thankful that his muttered 'Oh brother' was blocked from Hammond's ears by the roaring engine noise. He watched as they circled the Mountain complex at baffling speeds, climbing up to the skies while twisting around eachother, looping back down to the ground with rolling nose-dives before pulling back up right as Daniel's stomach fell to his shoes.
They flew side by side, nudging the other's wing while Hammond's speaker relayed their messages to eachother.
“Sorry, Sir, is my tail wind getting in your eyes?”
“That all you got?”
Hammond's shoulders were bouncing slightly as they listened, looking around to Daniel and grinning before cupping his hand over his eyes to follow his planes. Daniel was suddenly struck by the look of nostalgia in the General's eye – that used to be him up there, doing death-defying stunts in a twenty ton machine, weightlessly looping through the sky. Now he was behind a desk, not quite at his physical peak and living vicariously through those under his command.
Daniel smiled and patted the General's shoulder.
“Oh, did they not teach that in the old days?”
“I'll give you old days!”
“Looks like you've been in the lab too long, Major.”
It was only the flashing fuel light that grounded the two. The machines were still whirring down when they climbed from the cockpits and Daniel had never seen bigger grins on his two friends. He had to give Hammond his due, their shoulder's definitely seemed to be carrying less weight. They were laughing to each other as they made it to their watching crowd, Sam falling into step with Hammond and she looking over the flight records after keeping her eyeline with Jack for a beat.
Jack slapped Daniel's shoulder, the energy practically coming off him like an aura.
Daniel tried to hide the flinch and turned to follow, “Why do I feel like I should be offering you a cigarette?”