Whiteman Wanderer: From the ‘roof of the world’ to world’s greatest Air Force
By Airman 1st Class Taylor Phifer, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 24, 2018
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- His passion for adventures and traveling started as a young child. Today, it helps him do his job as an Airman.
Born in Nepal, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sukh Bhandari, an aerospace ground equipment journeyman assigned to the 509th Maintenance Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, could be found running up and down the mountain paths every day. Even after leaving the roof of the world, and moving across the globe to the United States, his desire for exploring only grew larger.
After graduating high school, Bhandari went off to college to try and find himself. While in college, Bhandari knew he wanted more out of life. So, he headed off to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, on yet another journey, this time with the U.S. military.
Now in the Air Force, Bhandari takes a few weeks out of each year to venture to new places around the world to soak up new sights and cultures.
“My wife and I try to explore new places as much as we can and go on one big trip at least once a year,” Bhandari said. “Both of us have high-stress jobs and we wanted to take this trip as a way to get away and hit the reset button.
“Going on exotic adventures helps us bond and grow together,” he continued. “We believe that exploring new places gives you a dynamic advantage in understanding nature, culture and your spiritual well-being.”
Bhandari said his most recent trip to Iceland and the state of Utah with his wife, Samita, was an adventure they both needed – and that taught them a lot.
The couple spent 16 days exploring new places while making lasting memories. The Bhandaris spent the first week visiting Iceland on a road trip, traveling the famed Iceland Ring Road, a more-than-800-mile road that runs around the island nation and connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. The couple explored Iceland’s unique and diverse landscapes, from oceans and waterfalls to mountains and glaciers.
“In Iceland, we traveled in a camper so we could explore as much as possible in a week,” Bhandari said. “While there, we were able to see the midnight sun, several world-famous waterfalls and wild horses everywhere. We traveled through a black sand beach on the South Coast to visit the crash site of a U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3 at Sólheimasandur.”
After what most would consider a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland, the couple spent the second half of the trip in Utah hiking up Angels Landing in Zion National Park and King’s Peak, the highest peak in Utah.
“During our hikes in Utah, I was astonished as I witnessed the change in the landscape,” Bhandari said. “The week before I was in the Arctic and suddenly I was in the desert of Utah. And to see the drastic differences in such a short time made me appreciate nature even more.”
Hiking and traveling the world has not only helped Bhandari and his wife grow their relationship, but has also helped with his military career by enhancing his ability to adapt to different situations and understand different cultures around the world, he said.
“Being in the military demands cross-cultural competence and understanding of geography since we are everywhere in the world,” Bhandari said. “I think hiking and traveling has helped me strengthen my resiliency and world perspectives, which is crucial in the military.”
Along with benefiting his own career, Bhandari hopes to inspire other Airmen to stay active and explore the world. Bhandari plans to continue his treks around the world and document his journeys on his YouTube channel.
“I know that life is short and I want to experience as much of our world as I can,” Bhandari said. “Exploring new places has always been my passion, and I refuse to grow old and regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.”