This weekend I accompanied Jay to Cleveland, OH in order to attend the 2011 Cleveland Air Show. I had never been to an air show before so I was excited to see what it was all about. Also, I was excited to see Jay in his element. I know how much he loves air planes and jets, so I knew that it would be a good day for him. Prior to attending the show I expected that there would be the jet demonstrations, and Jay had told me about a few of the other demonstrations, but I didn’t think that it would be anything that I would have an overwhelming interest in watching all day. I was wrong! Very happily I was wrong. lol
There was a period of time where we weren’t sure if we would even attend. The weather forecast was not good, but I told Jay that we should attempt to go on Saturday because I felt that would be the best day of the weekend. The day dawned bright and muggy. I took sunscreen and we packed the cooler with water. I’m so glad that we went on Saturday because it was a great show! The airport is right on Lake Erie so we had a nice breeze that helped with the heat. We did get a little toasted, but overall not too bad.
We got there right at 9 and had some time to kill before the demonstrations started at 10, so we walked around to the static exhibits. Jay used to be in the Navy so he’s kind of biased towards their planes. Well, we’re walking around and he suddenly makes a b-line for this:
This is a P3 plane. Jay was in the Navy for four or five years (however long your initial commitment is for) and the last year that he was in the military this was the model of plane that he flew. I can’t recall what he said his title was… flight engineer or something like that. Either way, he was like a kid in a candy store. We climbed the ladder and he was showing me around. He talked to one of the guys in there, who just happened to be in the squadron that Jay had been in. They didn’t know each other, though, because this guy was getting in just as Jay was getting out.
This is the only picture that I could get Jay to actually look at me so that I could take it instead of looking at the instrument panel:
He was sitting in ‘his’ seat and talking with the guy from his squadron about the differences in start up procedures since Jay got out. I could see in his eyes, though, how much he loved being back in that seat. It almost made me sad that he had left the Navy. However, if he hadn’t then I never would have met him so I wasn’t sad for too long. 😉 His new friend took a picture for us:
Here’s one more shot of the P3:
We looked around at the other displays and I was VERY disappointed to find that the humvees and other vehicles that the Army had on display did NOT have my company’s LED headlamps on them! I was hoping to see them in person and perhaps talk to somebody about the difference that they can see when using them. *sigh* Oh well. Some other time, I guess.
At 10 a.m. the show started and so we were in our seats until the end just so that we didn’t miss anything. It started with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights who parachuted in with both the Canadian and U.S. flags while each respective national anthem was sang. Now, I have NEVER had the desire to jump out of a plane and hurtle towards earth, depending upon a sheet of material to save my life. However, I was impressed with these guys. They did a very good job and I give them kudos for what they do.
Part of the show was this school bus that a guy had put a jet engine into the back of it:
What he would do is create a huge cloud of smoke, and then drive in circles in it with the jet engine shooting out fire. All you would see is this big cloud glowing orange. Here’s a neat picture that I managed to snap:
Look at that flame!! He did this three times and then drove to the end of the landing strip and turned around. He then went full speed (and for the life of me I can’t recall how fast they claimed he could go), but then halfway down the strip he had to blow out the parachutes to make sure that he would slow down by the time he got to the end of the runway. It was definitely entertaining. lol
They then had a bunch of different jet and plane demonstrations. There was just enough moisture in the air that Jay was happily impressed to see vapors coming off of the jet. Apparently you have to get going to a certain speed and the moisture has to be just right for this to happen. If he was impressed, then I knew that it was a good thing. lol.
I remember the first time that I was punched by the sound of the jet engine, though. I think that it was during the F/A-18 Super Hornet demo. Jay told me that there would be a ‘boom’ coming, and boy was he right! Remember when you would go to dances in high school and they put the DJ in the small gym so that as the bass was thumping you could feel it through your body? That’s what this reminded me of. It hit you and you can feel it thumping your whole body. It was neat! The other thing that really amazed me was that I had always known how fast these jets will go, but until you experience it in person I don’t think that you can really appreciate it. I know that light travels faster than sound (I learned that in science class!), but it really is obvious when you’re at an air show. The jet comes flying by and they will be into the climb before the sound really hits you. This fact never got old for me. The entire show it impressed me every single time. lol
They do this thing now at the air shows called the Heritage Flight. They fly three different planes from three different eras to kind of show you how flight progressed in the Air Force. I did a lousy job taking the picture, but you can kind of see how it looked:
The smaller one out front is the oldest (WW2, I believe they said… and don’t quote me because I’m still new to this aircraft stuff), and it’s a P-51 Mustang. The top one is the newest one and it’s the A-10 Warthog. The bottom one is the F-4 Phantom. They played patriotic music during the flight so of course I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes.
The last show of the day was The Thunderbirds. Jay told me that at least once during the show I would jump or be startled. He didn’t explain why, so I was excited to find out. It was a very good show and I enjoyed it very much. There was a point where they dedicated the move that they were performing to the current military members serving overseas and their families. There were four jets that went up, then one split off and they ended up making a heart in the sky. I can’t recall which song was playing at the time… maybe Toby Keith’s ‘American Soldier’. I got goosebumps and really had to hold back the tears. It was that moving for me.
Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the military. I don’t know, but being a fairly patriotic person as it is and a HUGE lover of my country, I couldn’t help but feel proud. After all, it was the United States who made flight possible. The Wright brothers were American and made the dream of flight possible. Watching the various planes and jets as they flew in front of me showed me that this is what the American Dream is all about. It’s about making the impossible possible and showing that you can do whatever you put your mind to. I was a VERY proud American. Heck, I still am a VERY proud American. Yes, our country has made a lot of mistakes, but there isn’t another place like this in the world.
I had a great time at the air show and I look forward to going to another one.
A big thank you to all of those who have served, or are currently serving, our country. May God bless you and your families for the sacrifices made to help keep me free.