The Air Show

When my friend arrived yesterday morning, the weather was overcast but dry. We decided to risk the airshow. It was poorly attended (no surprise) but ironically they parked us as far as possible from the main show site. I don’t speed along quite as quickly as I used to, so it took nearly fifteen minutes for us to get from the car to the displays.

Security was tight. The air show was held at the local Naval Air Station. Actually, the base is one of the biggest joint Air Stations in the US, and supports not only the Navy, but the Marine Corps, Air Force and Army Reservists, as well as the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Very cool aircraft fly in and out of there at times. Anyhow, there was a swift gate check as you passed through the outer gates, another quick check as you passed through the inner gates, and a check of all bags as you entered the show itself. My purse was emptied completely by a very nice kid who couldn’t have been more than nineteen years old, and who was very apologetic about the whole thing. I get the feeling that yesterday must have been a hard day on those guys. I don’t envy them the detail – if they had to check every diaper bag and satchel going into that place, they must have been in for lots of grief.

I was waved through after that, and met my friend, who had been wise enough to carry nothing but her wallet which was in her pocket and who had to wait for me as I went through security. This is the scene that greeted us soon after entering:

Even though we had gotten there late by air show standards, there were few people about. The announcer said the ceiling was 600 feet, but my friend, who is a pilot, was estimating it had dropped even lower. That didn’t stop them from putting on as good a show as they could though.

First was a fake attack by some helicopters on enemy ground troops. Lots of pyrotechnics there – the kids were screaming, mosting in delight, and the parents were jumping a mile high. Huge plumes of fire rose from the ground, followed by dense smoke. It was fun to watch, rather like a fireworks ground display.

After the final attack, my friend directed my gaze directly overhead. One of the explosions had formed a huge smoke ring that dangled above us just below the clouds.

While many of the acrobatics could not take place, they did their best to keep the excitement going. Here a jet does very low passes, touching the ground and then taking off again.

There were plenty of ground displays to keep our interest as well. We got to go inside one of the big transport helicopters, get close looks at Navy jets, and investigate all other sorts of planes. My friend knew far more than I did, and pointed out the interesting features to me, most of which didn’t stick in my head. I should have taken notes.

The first and only thing I could think of when seeing this plane was Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”. I didn’t appreciate how big those Fed Ex planes were, and this picture doesn’t really give you and sense of scale.

The show was not without its moments of humor as well. I had to wonder exactly how this plane made it in and out of the Naval Airstation with such a suspicious character in the pilot’s seat:

And my favorite unexpected Kodak moment from yesterday. I have no idea why he was carrying it, or where he was going with it, so I’ll just let the picture speak for itself.

Finally, here’s a picture of myself and my friend in a Thunderbird. Well, OK, it was only the front half of a Thunderbird; the back half was missing. Still, it looks impressive, doesn’t it?

We left at noon, as it began to rain in earnest at that point. We figured that they were calling for thundershowers, so it was unlikely any more planes would be sent up and we’d seen the best of the show already.

We were wrong. At three in the afternoon, the Thunderbirds began their performance. All I could do is watch out my apartment window as the Thunderbirds whizzed overhead, making their turns that would bring them back to the air station and to the waiting audience that knew better than to leave just because of a little rain. They got the show, and all I got was this:

So close and yet so far.

I ended up napping much of the afternoon away. My stamina isn’t what it used to be.

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  1. Looks like you had a great morning in spite of the day being rained out. I really enjoyed the pictures, the one with the bear hanging out the window was too cute! Also, looked like you and your friend were ready to take off! Thanks for sharing the airshow.

    Hope you are having a great day already this morning!


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