Thursday, May 30, 2013

my toes didn't curl, but it was still nice

The sequester is happening.  Have you been directly affected?

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.

Denver Post

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!


  1. I always loved watching the Thunderbirds as a kid - and even as an adult when we'd take our kids to the annual AFB air show.
    But I can totally see how watching the vintage aircraft fly over voluntarily would be just as poignant as the Thunderbirds, especially given the situation. How awesome that you got to watch it from a sand box!

    1. Definitely a different "feel" to the flyover than the Thunderbirds, but certainly special. Sandbox: best seat in the house!

  2. What a great thing to be able to see, right in your own backyard! Amazing what they can do in a big, expensive aircraft, huh?

    1. Yeah, it was super nice of them to come out here and do that.

  3. We have our own airshow down here every fall (Wings over Houston) and my office overlooks the airfield a few miles to the north. We get some great views of fly-by practices the week leading up to the airshow. As impressive as Thunderbirds are, the fly over of WWII in formation are awesome. Something about those old WWII turboprops thundering overhead really stops traffic.

    1. They really do have a "dignified" presence, and they shake the windows with the best of them! Classy.

  4. If the Thunderbirds are practicing, why stop them? They have to practice somewhere, right?

  5. Sounds exciting, as long as it's not every day. I'm not ready for false teeth yet. :D

  6. Well I am glad despite the sequester, you guys were still able to enjoy an Air Show! That is super cool!

  7. I grew up in Norfolk, VA, home of the largest naval station. I saw a couple of those exhibitions as a child. I think it was the Blue Angels. You make me want to go "home" and see it again - that is, if a sequestration hasn't nixed it or if they just don't do it anymore.

    Glad you all got to see the other flight flyover. Who can "not" love that kind of excitement.

    I listened to Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation" on audio a while ago. It was interesting and I learned a little somethin'.