Sunday, October 22, 2006

Blue Angels and Balloons

We went to see the Blue Angels Friday. They haven’t been in the Valley since 2001. We’ve seen the Thunderbirds twice out at Luke AFB since we’ve been here, but the Blue Angels always feel a little bit like home. In Orange County we lived near the now-shuttered El Toro MCAS and the Blue Angels would come to the air show there every year. For three days we could stand on our back patio and watch the whole show.

I haven’t seen the Blue Angels in nearly ten years, but earlier this year on the Military Channel, they did a documentary on them, following them through their training and show circuit. What always amazes me is the small or nonexistent margin for error. You space out for a second or have an off day and you can take yourself and your fellow pilots into eternity in an instant. Not exactly like writing where you get multiple chances to get it right.

The great thing about this air show was that it was a smaller, private airfield. We went on Friday, the practice day, so it wasn’t crowded at all, and we were close to the centerline on the airfield. Which meant that, at points, they were only 50 feet above our heads.

When I watch them, for just a minute, I forget there’s such a thing as gravity.

The other cool thing was the after-dark show. A plane danced across the sky with pyrotechnics coming off the wings and shooting flares. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then the hot air balloons lined up on the flight line, and began inflating. It was cool to see that happen, these giant balloons swaying in the evening breeze like giant Japanese lanterns.


  1. Great pictures! George took Jacob to an airshow when he was around six years old. The low-swooping planes traumatized him so much that, for a long time, when a jet would fly over our house--just a tiny speck way up high tracing a white streak on blue sky--he'd run screaming into the house, afraid it was going to fall on him.

    We never took him to another air show. Of course, he also thought he saw lions in the woods across the street. It doesn't take much to traumatize a kid with an imagination set on hyper-drive. (Wonder where he got that . . .)

  2. There is something extremely, uhm, good (I'd like to use a different word, but don't know if I should) about seeing the Blue Angels or any fly by for that matter.

    I can kinda hear that song in the back of my head, y'know...the Top Gun anthem.

  3. Michelle, I agree with your sentiments. I think it is a sense of pride and awe whenever you see that precision and commitment.
    Once when visiting Luke AFB here in the West Valley with our son, Ian commented on how loud and penetrating the sound of an F16 is. The flight instructor, who was our guide for the day turned and said to him, "Son, that's the sound of freedom!"
    I can never look at or hear an F16 again without that statement resonating in my head.

  4. I was going to mention seeing the Thunderbirds out at Luke with Ian, but Phil already mentioned the best part--that line stays with you and Ian loved it.
    We have Luke Days where people are let onto Luke AFB and planes from all over come and you can see them and the pilots. Phil and I took our kids and a few neighbor kids one year and found out they were selling cards, like base ball cards, but only of the jets. For a buck a pack the kids had a great time finding the planes pictured and then getting the pilots' autographs. You should have see the faces of these young men as our kids ran up. "You want my autograph?" And then other kids started. The guys really felt like celebreties instead of human info machines.
    BTW, Jeanne is right--those are great pictures, Jen. You outdid yourself!

    Abundant blessings,
    Jenny Cary

  5. Gorgeous pictures, Jen! It looks like you had a blast. :-D Love the hot-air balloons!

  6. sheesh, I can't believe you didn't pick me up a hot fighter pilot while you were there... some friend you are LOL

  7. Calvin spent most of the time covering his ears. He really doesn't like loud noises unless he's making them.

    And, Heather, LOL, I knew you were going to say that. I did think about it, but I couldn't find any handy. They were all signing autographs for kids or some other such charitable thing.