The Air Force Academy is located "just a little bit over there" from where we live. Graduation comes every spring, and with it comes the Air Force Thunderbirds.
So every year at this time, on graduation day and the few days leading up to it, our skies are visited by this team of F-16's as they practice and perform and rattle our teeth and window panes and fine china (actually, I can only attest to the teeth and window panes, as we don't own anything resembling fine china, although they do rattle our fine China, the dog).
People stand around outside in their yards or pull over in their cars, looking skyward, maybe hoping to be fast enough to snag a photo or video. On the day of graduation, people take long lunches from the office to go outside and set up folding chairs in good viewing spots. Kids, if they're still in school, get extra recess time to watch from the playgrounds. Some diehards, who don't even have relatives at graduation, go sit through the looooong graduation ceremony just to get good seats for the show.
(scared the living what
out of her?)
This year, however, because of the sequester, the Thunderbirds are grounded. I don't know how the cadets felt about it, but us taxpayers in the cheap seats were fine with it, although we would miss the annual exhilaration.
But then, in came the Cavalry! Or more specifically... The Commemorative Air Force!
Several aviation organizations volunteered, at no cost to the government, to provide flyovers and displays of vintage WWII aircraft.
The kids (for lack of a better word) and I were all home at midday yesterday, so we grabbed a few pairs of binoculars and headed outside to see the graduation flyover. And y'know? It was really nice.
It wasn't the pull-your-hair-out-of-its-roots buzz that the Thunderbirds bring. I don't even think I heard one reactive dog bark. But it was just really nice. And poignant.
I was standing in the sandbox at the elementary school, making roads with my feet, when Wolfgang said, "OH, there they are!" like they just appeared out of nowhere, in beautifully perfect formation.
We watched, mostly in silence. Then Chaco and Wolfgang started rattling off the names of the different aircraft, while I thought about "The Greatest Generation".
They made a few laps around the stadium, some other aircraft joined in, and then they headed off toward the far horizon.
Thanks guys! You're still heroes!