Last month when my wife, son and I were in Florida visiting my parents, we made the first trek to an airshow with our almost 2 year old. The first airshow experience in Florida with my wife didn’t exactly go so hot, in fact, she has a pair of shoes now nicknamed “airshow shoes”(also, the word MacDill is one that shall not be uttered in our house).
This year we made another trek to Sun n Fun to catch some jet exhaust, sunshine and some planes. The trip didn’t start off so hot as Toddler 3315, got sick. So this was one of the first days he felt like himself and we felt like we could venture away from the house. He loved it, for like an hour. But I’ll take it considering we can’t sit through an entire episode of Mickey Mouse Roadster Racers without him venturing off to chase the dog.
I had been looking at schedules and determined Friday would be the best day to go, primarily due to an Osprey demo and the Dracula bi-plane. I also had learned my lesson going 2 years prior going on a Saturday, it was like going to Walmart on Black Friday. However, the little guy and his short attention span, the cancellation of the Osprey demo and rain showers coming in, cut our Sun n Fun 2019 experience short just before the Blue Angels came on.
The next day as I was sifting through the photos I took, I began to think, am I jaded living in Bangor and essentially being treated to an ongoing air show 365 days a year? I love the Blue Angels, I’ve seen them 7 times. It’s an amazing sight to see them do the insanely fast passes, aerial acrobatics and overall being American. I love it. But, missing them this year, didn’t bother me. I was more peeved by the Ospreys.
This is an honest question. Sunday was the only other day that was an option, and let me tell you, it was close with the Ospreys on Friday and the KC-135 demo on Sunday. But Friday won out(if you’re reading this and don’t live in Maine or Bangor, we have an Air National Guard unit that flies KC-135s). In the past year, the aircraft to pass through Bangor International Airport would blow away most air shows. And it’s free. Here’s a list and I’ll let you decide:
- Saudi F-15s
- Belgian F-16s
- US Navy F-18s
- Seymour Johnson F-15s
- NATO AWACs
- NASA P-3
- Old Crow P-51
- KC-135s(not MAINE birds)
- Antonov AN-124s
- Lifeflight of Maine Agusta Helicoters
- US Army Blackhawk Helicopters
- US Army Lakotas
- 2 DC-3s
- B-1 Bomber
- German M-28
- C-130(including a NY ANG SKIER)s
- Finnish F-18s
- AV8 Harriers
- MV-22 Ospreys
- T-38 Texan
- Air Force 1
- USCG CV-25
That doesn’t include various business jets that come through, commercial aircraft on delivery flights from Europe or diversions. Now I know what you’re going to say, I can’t get up close an personal like at an airshow. However, most of the time, I’m closer when they’re landing or taxiing than I’d get at an airshow. It’s a tradeoff, not having to shoot through the fence, vs not crossing a yellow rope to get a photo.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful because we’re fortunate to live in a country where we can go spend a day and see all of these unique aircraft at one spot. Inhale some jet exhaust and yell “f-yeah” when there are 2 Blues screaming head on at each other and then break at the last moment. But I yelled the same thing when the Seymour Johnson F-15 called the tower to request an unrestricted climb to 10000 feet.
There are probably only 2-3 other airports in the US that see such random activity. In a spotter group on Facebook, it was a big thing when a C-17 came in for a presidential visit. We’ve had days where there were 5 of them on the ramp. Yet, when I go to Boston, I get excited for a retro American Air livery, which is a ho-hum event for the Logan spotters now.
I’m still going to go to airshows, but I need to do something to shake it up a bit. Get some different shots, maybe go and NOT take photos, just enjoy it rather than looking through a lens. And maybe this is just a way to up my photo game, make me be more creative?
For now, I won’t be hitting an airshow until 2020, but the summer of 2019 is ahead of us and that can only mean lunch flights from Oceana in an F-18 or T-38. Random sales flights from Omega with a couple F-18s. USAF squadrons stopping in before going to Europe or on their way home. And maybe we’ll get an A350 diversion. Who knows, but keep on watching planes, keep being a big kid and looking up when you hear jet noise or randomly pointing out what the aircraft is that’s going over, even when nobody gives a damn.