Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gunfighter Skies 2008

Okay, we are really bad. But, could you pass up on the opportunity to see the Thunderbirds? Live? Right in front of you and flying above your head?

Yeah, we couldn't either. And the day they were performing was today. But we did go all together as a family, we didn't purchase anything, and we didn't go crazy and run all over the place.

But I did take a lot of pictures! Over 150. I won't share them all here, but I have posted the best ones. I know it's a lot of photos but since you guys couldn't see it in person, I wanted to show you the highlights.

The first act we saw when we got there. This guy built his plane on his own time, with his own money. This was him flying upside down, in the middle of a roll.

William napped through the first half hour or so of the show. Even through the really loud jet engines. I don't know how my kids do that...

This jet smiled for it's photo. Notice the bottom of the nose. This is a Navy jet. The long stick thing on the back end is a hook. When a plane lands on the aircraft carrier, that hook catches on to the drag line that runs across the deck. This pulls on the huge counterweight on the side of the ship and basically brakes the jet. The runway on the ships is too short for a regular landing. They also have a shorter length to build up speed for takeoff, so they can gear up speed a lot faster too.

The inside of a cargo plane. A plane this size can fit a couple Humvees, or carry a few tons of supplies for an aerial drop. This is from the back, there is a ramp to allow vehicles and forklifts to enter the rear of the plane.

Here we have the Navy jet on the right, and on the left, and F-16. That was Mark's guess. I'll take his word for it. It's an Air force fighter jet. In the middle is one of the World War II fighter planes. A really neat, generational flyby.

The parachuters were really neat. They dropped into free fall around 2 miles above the ground. This guy deployed his parachute after a 200 mph dive in free fall. He clocked in at 220 mph yesterday. Then they slow down with the chute for a few hundred feet. They have to do some check maneuvers to make sure that they're chute will respond to the ropes, so they can land on target.

The cargo plane back on the ground after all the jumpers deployed.

They had tanks and other ground vehicles set up on the strip for kids to climb through. They entered in the entrance, at the rear, and emerged near the gunnery. Oren thought it was really neat.

Nathan did not. He was really scared and the guy had to coax him to come out of the hole and help him down.

Another older World War II plane. This is made of aluminum, which makes it really hot. And it was very vulnerable to gunfire. One shot in just the right spot would puncture the radiator and the pilot would have to gauge if he had enough time to make an emergency landing. If he judged wrong he would have to jettison before the plane exploded in a fiery blaze because it overheated and ignited the gas.

The "Thunderbirds"

I had a hard time getting them in the famous "diamond formation". These four jets did several maneuvers in the diamond. Turning and rolling and looping in perfect sync and formation. They fly extremely close to one another, very dangerous! This flyby demonstrated just how close they fly.

One of the solo flyers in the group. He looks like he is about to land, since his nose is up. However, he is flying level over the runway, about 50 feet up, with his nose up. Like doing a wheelie on a motorcycle. I love the flame coming out of the engine.

The "Five Card" formation. I would not want to be the middle plane! They did rolls in this formation, and some loops, as well as the tricky stunt of rearranging themselves to include the 5th pilot.

All six together. They fly really fast, and it was not so easy keeping them in view for the pictures. This is another signature of theirs. The lead pilot, the one in the very front, has to make sure that everyone turns at once, as to not break the shape. If they are not perfect, they will crash at such close quarters. Everything has to be exact.

And just to show you how big the engines are on the cargo planes. Each one has 4 of these big guys, 2 on each side. Wow. You can see how big they are from the people sitting under them.

Thanks for bearing with me, and hope you enjoyed a little taste of the 2008 airshow. This was an amazing experience, and I am very proud to be a supporter of this amazing Air Force! I am so proud of you, Mark, for all the hard work that you do to make sure our pilots keep flying!


Stephanie said...

What a fun experience. That would be cool to watch all those planes flying around.

CissaLynn said...

Wow!!!! Those pictures are pretty neat!!! I bet it was even better being there! :)) Pretty cool!!! My boys would love it!!!

Kathy & Dave Whittle said...

How cool to be right there for an entire show. I have always felt such a feeling of patriotism when I've had occasion to see the jets at different events, etc. We're so proud of all our family who work so hard to protect our freedoms. Thank you Mark!

Grandma Danes said...

I thought about going to see the show. We have always enjoyed it and the pics you got were great.