Anticipating the Air Show! – 2009
Time to break with your hibernation from the winter blahs; stop getting upset about the politics of Democratic deconstruction and more illegal immigrants for a time. Andrews Air Force base, in nearby Prince George’s County offers the best air show in the region once a year, and it’s this coming weekend!
**This year my reminder column is coming out just in time for you to actually make plans to attend the show this weekend, on May 16th or 17th!**
They call it the Joint Services Open House in a bow to the other services displaying their wares and telling their stories through static ground displays. Beware that it is also an amazing recruiting opportunity, with the best men and women in our military strutting their stuff.
But don’t worry; it’s very safe, and lots of fun!
It’s free. Free parking at FedEx Field. Screening for your security there is fast and very well organized. Then free buses take you over to the tarmac, for your free admission!
Andrews AFB is responsible for your direct protection across the entire Mid-Atlantic region. If it flies and comes after us in anger…they go get it. Air cover is also provided for Camp David. Homeland Security can call for the launch of on-alert fighters, several of which are always armed for action. For real.
Air superiority and control is their mission, and our first-line fighters are found there. F-15 Eagles have been based there for years. F-22 Raptors will replace them as they come on line. You will get to see one show off. They are the best of the best on the world stage of aviation. (Editor’s Note: President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget cuts funding for the F-22!)
The F-22 can super-cruise at supersonic speeds for an extended period of time, traveling long distances for their interceptor mission, even without fuel-wasting afterburners. Vectored thrust engines allow them to turn on a dime, and fire in a different direction than the one they are headed. Armaments are all internal with split-second release and a stealth body.
Perhaps you should bring earplugs, but I love the jet noise myself. The best part is the total silence for several seconds after a fast flyby and THEN you hear the roar! This is the last sound that our enemies never hear.
If they do the “mass paratroop drop” this year, the MAC flies in the enormous C-5s, and C-141 transports out of Dover Air Force Base, bringing 82nd Airborne troops down over your head in full combat gear. Hundreds of them drop down and then march off. Awe inspiring!
Of course, the Blue Angels of the Navy, and Thunderbirds of the Air Force, which alternate shows each year, are the king of the show. They typically fly precision style at about 3 P.M. Hope for great weather!
Also, the heavily modified Air Force One Boeing 747s are hangered there for our president.
I took Cub Scouts to the show one year and had a real American moment: Out of nowhere the show shut down and went silent. Three white-topped helicopters came rushing in from left to right and disappeared.
Air defense Huey copters hovered at all horizon points in defense – sudden defense. It was President George W. Bush. After several minutes, two red, white, and blue super jets rolled out in the opposite direction. Not one, but two of the famous “Air Force One” 747s headed for one end of the two mile long runway.
They took off, circled, and then were gone. Fifteen minutes later the “decoy plane” came back and landed, its mission done.
Whenever the president flies, his plane is automatically designated as “Air Force One,” by convention.
I can’t promise this will happen at a show ever again, but you never know!
Bring a blanket and folding chairs. Bring suntan lotion (hopefully needed!) and a small pack with water. Bring cash for the junk food! Funnel cakes, brats and knocks, burgers and coke – or beer.
Especially bring the kids, as there’s something for everyone. Flight simulators that they can operate, a climbing wall, monster jet cars, and a carnival atmosphere are the norm.
This Friday is just for military personnel with ID. For us civvies, Saturday May 16 and Sunday May 17 have pretty much the same show to see.
Arrive in the morning to allow enough time to visit all of the ground displays, and chat with the pilots, who are more than gracious in telling you their stories. If you have questions, they have answers. The aerial part starts in earnest about 11 A.M., with the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team whizzing down to you.
**This year the headliner is the Air Force Thunderbirds and their suped-up F-16 fighters!**
Enjoy your break! For more see www.jsoh.org
…and I’ll see you there.
Originally published May 12, 2008, but edited for dates.