The Thunderbirds

This year’s air show at Scott Air Force Base was my second opportunity to see the Thunderbirds fly. No matter how many times I see flight demonstration teams such as this, it’s totally thrilling!

It doesn’t matter if you’re watching a single plane flying solo:

Or two planes doing something breath-taking:

Or four planes flying so close, they look like one:

Or the whole squadron, flying in formation:

Even on the ground, these planes are always amazing!

Air Show 2012

I love an air show! This year, we were lucky to see the Thunderbirds perform at “Airpower Over the Midwest” at Scott Air Force Base. While the Thunderbirds were the headline act, there were also many other things to see while we waited!

As were coming in, there was a parachute team jumping. The children were fascinated by their red smoke!

There are always many different kinds of aircraft. Turkey really liked this Marines plane with foldable wings:

I liked the Spirit of Freedom, because I’m fascinated by the Berlin Air Lift:

The children got to tour a Delta jet, and even try out the seats (and they got their “wings!”):

Even Chickadee got to join in the fun!

And, of course, the stars themselves: The Thunderbirds!

Happy Anniversary, Scott Air Force Base!

Blue Angels

In 2008, we got to see the Thunderbirds perform at Scott Air Force Base (awesome!). In 2009, we saw the Canadian Snowbirds at Scott (totally different, but also awesome!). This year, we went to SAFB to see the Blue Angels (still totally awesome!).

The Whole Squadron

I never tire of air shows. Actually, going to air shows has really become one of our “family things.” I think we’ve been to one every year for at least the last five years, and I’m still always blown away by the stunts the pilots are capable of. I gasp every time they pass each other with what looks like only centimeters to spare. I wonder how they ever learn to do all those stunts (safely) in the first place. I ponder the fact that every time we see a group perform, we’re only one misstep away from seeing a tragedy unfold in front of our eyes.

And yet, it’s always been fantastic. There have never been any mistakes, only what always look like near-misses to me, but are actually carefully scripted parts of the show. Seeing our military’s best pilots also always serves to remind me how proud I am to be an American.

This year, we even had a little humor injected in the show–we got to see “Fat Albert” fly before the Blue Angel squadron took off. This C-130 is the work horse of the Blue Angels, and despite its size, is still painted in the Blue Angels’ colors. I was very amused by the name, and it was fun to see a different part of their group in the air–I don’t think we got to see anything like that with either the Thunderbirds or the Snowbirds.

“Fat Albert”

Everyone should have the chance to see a precision group fly like that at least once in their life. I make a point every year to tell my children how fortunate they are to have seen so many!

“Fat Albert’s” Belly

Airpower Over the Midwest

It’s that time of year again–the annual air show at Scott Air Force Base. Last year, we got to see the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.

They were very loud, very fast, and very impressive!

This year, we got to see the Canadian Snowbirds, a group I hadn’t even heard of before this year’s show.

P1000645The Snowbirds were very different from the Thunderbirds, but equally impressive. The Snowbirds were more…graceful, for lack of a better word. It seemed like they did more looping, more with their smoke trails (including a heart, which was awesome, but faded before we could get a picture of the whole thing), and were, in general, a little more low-key.

P1000632Don’t get me wrong–they were still very fast, and did lots of amazing stunts, including several that made me a little nervous because they were flying so close to each other. Maybe it was just that the Snowbirds didn’t have the same volume as the Thunderbirds, but it felt much more relaxed.

P1000549We even got to meet some of the pilots after the show, and they were so nice, and very good with children. One of them asked Turkey if he thought he’d like to be a pilot someday. Turkey’s response? “Maybe someday I’ll fly the Space Shuttle.” What can I say? He dreams big!

P1000622Our whole family loves going to air shows, and the children were able to enjoy this one a little more because the noise level was less. They love watching all the things the planes can do–flying upside down, doing formations, swooping down and then climbing up so high–and I’m right there with them watching in amazement that anyone can learn to fly like that!

Now that we’ve seen the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds, I’m hoping we’ll get to see the Navy’s Blue Angels before too long!

The Thrill of Flight

This past weekend was very busy for us.  Prairie Day was great enough on Saturday, but on Sunday, we also got to go to an air show at the local Air Force base.  We went to the same show last year, and we’ve also been to a few other air shows in the past, but I think this was the best one yet.  Why?  One word–Thunderbirds!

I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen a Thunderbirds show before.  I think that’s the kind of thing you remember.  I had a general idea of what to expect, but there’s just nothing like seeming them going screaming past each other (and hearing the roar of the engines–I jumped more than once!), so close, and so fast, in person, to really impress upon you how amazing it, and how much skill it takes.  The noise level was a little to much for some in our crowd (Moose), but seeing the planes go roaring by was an interesting event to be pointed at (Ladybug), and an amazing show to be enjoyed (Turkey).  Bunny just wanted to sleep through the whole thing, and attempted to take a nap on the ground in the middle of the airfield.  Weird.

The Thunderbirds were by far the most impressive and amazing thing we saw, but certainly not the only cool thing.  Turkey was amazed to see an actual jet car (he’s always pretending his toy cars are “rocket cars” so this really blew his mind!), and he even got the autograph of the driver.  There was a stunt plane flying when we first got there, which was also very interesting to the children, and the static displays are always cool–Turkey and Bunny even got to sit in a helicopter!

My favorite thing, aside from the Thunderbirds, however, was a display in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Berlin airlifts.  It was a beautiful and touching piece of our history–even some of the boxes that were dropped, and the contents thereof.  The pictures of the people who received those rations, the maps of a Germany divided, even the words to a jingle written by Irving Berlin, really made that part of history come alive.  I wasn’t expecting to find such a display so moving, but I have to admit, I teared up a bit looking at the past.  It was a really cool thing to experience, and I’m so glad we had a chance to go.