Friday, April 9, 2010

Air Show Memories

Even before our family got heavily involved in general aviation, we would pack up the clan and head out to some airfield in search of thrills and excitement that only aircraft at close quarters can provide. There are two types of air shows, the more County -Fair driven community events that would have lots of craft vendors and miscellaneous entertainment; and the ‘aviation centered’ military shows.

I prefer to head out to some military base to view one of their air show extravaganzas. These are always the ultra-patriotic events that give the public an opportunity to see what their taxes are paying for (at least in military hardware). These shows tend to be a bit louder and more bombastic as jets cut through the air at low level and show off their technology and proud pilots. If you are fortunate, the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, or other performance aircraft ‘aerobatic’ teams might be on the program for a half hour of unbelievably precision flying tricks.

I like any chance to see airplanes. They are amazingly simple machines in a lot of ways but the elegance of watching any kind of flying object, aircraft or toy, is a pleasure beyond words. What I HATE about airplanes, and particularly high performance aircraft, is they are built for raw power, not noise abatement. So anytime we attend an air show, we carry several sets of those little cone wavy-shaped yellow ear-plugs. These things are great. They are so portable, I will stick them in my wallet until needed. They are made of some type of memory foam or ‘spongy-something’ that collapses and then form fits to any ear, effectively blocking out excessive noise.

I remember that Edwards Air Force Base in California had put on a fantastic show. My favorite part had been a B1 bomber that flew just a hundred feet above the ground in excess of 600 miles an hour. Just as it passed the audience, the huge plane instantly turned skyward 90 degrees and rocketed its magical disappearance into the atmosphere. It was incredible display of aviation perfection, and INCREDIBLY loud, so we all donned our nifty foamy ear plugs.

Before we left Edwards we bought a large bag of popcorn. It was a tad stale after sitting in the sun all day but actually very delicious as a snack for the trip home. The next morning I was in a hurry to clean the van up from the trip. When travelling with the full crew, invariably things get dropped and tossed so I quickly grabbed and gathered up the leftovers throughout the van. The dome light was on and the garage was dimly lit but I deftly spied on my kid’s seat, a couple of kernels of that tasty popcorn. It just sat there begging to be consumed. I thought – “what the heck – they had not touched the van floor, and hey - I’m not proud; why waste anything?” Nobody sane was around to logically protest, so I popped those pale yellow kernels into my mouth anxious to remember the buttery splendor from the previous day. Unhappily, I savored the rubbery bounce of my kid’s YUMMY, spongy ear plugs. Yes as you may have guessed, I prefer ‘quieter’ county fair type air shows these days and the only kernels I eat in a ‘jiffy’ are hatched from a microwave.

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