Fighter jets over Lynchburg on May 21, 2011. Is it the end of the world?
No, it was a visit from the Blue Angels, the US Navy flight demonstration team. For three days before their Saturday performance, you heard thunder rolling overhead. Since we’ve been having thunderstorms on and off for the last two weeks, it was an easy mistake. But a friend, the Accounts Receivables Manager at a local Internet Service Provider, looked out her office window Thursday afternoon and saw the pilots running practice drills before the Lynchburg Air Show, May 21-22 at the Regional Airport.
My husband and I were two of at least ten thousand visitors who paid to watch from the airport. Many found shade under the convenient wing of a small private plane. According to our friends, I looked like their six-year-old as I watched the pilots perform feats of daring. The photos are stock because my poor camera couldn’t catch the wonder. Okay, I was too busy watching with my mouth open to take the camera out of my satchel.
Four of the planes flew in synchronized formations, looping, rolling, and turning like airborne Rockettes. Two other planes played what looked like a game of chicken, just barely missing each other as the audience gasped in awe and I wished I were up there with them.
Then there were the two planes flying on top of one another with their landing gear down. I also lost it over this exploit. One was tearing through the air on its back. The other was right side up. To me it looked like their gear was touching the other plane. Think gymnasts balancing one another. One’s on his back, his feet and arms are in the air. The other is resting on the arms and legs but has his limbs touching the person supporting him. It was thrilling, terrifying, awe-inspiring.
Naval aviators really have the right stuff.
The Bealeton Flying Circus added thrills from another time, performing aerial drills in biplanes more like the days of Eddie Rickenbacker and Baron von Richthofen. Wing-walkers, like barnstormers of the 1920’s, spent more time outside the cockpit than in it. Parachuters and trick flyers rounded out the weekend’s festivities.
Later that evening, we had dinner at the Olive Garden when groups of people poured into the restaurant. Everyone was happy and excited, but also sunburned from eighty degree temperatures and hazy sunshine. (Note to self: Next year, wear a hat with a brim, carry a golf umbrella, and bring SPF 50 sunscreen. Oh, and plenty of water.)
I can see Gray and Paul, one of the young runaways from Clubbed to Death, attending a Boys’ Day Out to the Air Show armed with a two liter bottle of Libby’s sweet tea. What a thrill for a local boy.