25 September 2014

2014 Allen & Ginter Air Supremacy

Over the weekend we went to an air show at the local Air Force Base. My dad was in the Air Force when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of various air shows and the amazing and comprehensive Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.  I wanted to share some of that experience with my kids.

To tie this in to my card blog, I also picked up the Air Supremacy set from this year's Topps Allen & Ginter release. I got the full set as part of a master set I picked up on eBay a little while after it released. I am pretty sure that the F-22 Raptor and P-51 Mustang were there at the air show this weekend, but we didn't make it far enough down the flight line to see them.

Here are our three sons in the back of the KC-135 Stratotanker. The line to get inside the plane was about 25 minutes, then another 20 minutes to get to the back of the plane for a look at the refueling crew station, and then another 20 minutes to get to the front of the aircraft for a visit to the cockpit. In this picture the kids were still pretty happy. The plane had windows they could look out of and web seats with seatbelts they could mess with. The parachute demonstration happened just before we got to the cockpit, and my wife and two of the boys went out to watch that. That was the wrong move. The parachutists were right in the sun, so no one could see them, and there weren't any wild formations or colored smoke streams that might make for an exciting show. One of our sons really wanted to stay in and see the cockpit, so he got to climb around up there and wave at everyone through the windows.

We saw a B-52 while we were there, but didn't go over and look at it. The F-16s were there in the form of the Thunderbirds. I also saw an F/A-18 Hornet in the distance. By the time we got out of the FC-135 the kids were pretty restless and everyone was feeling a bit hot and dehydrated. It was time for some Snow Cones.

The ramp-up to the Thunderbirds show took a long time without a lot of action, so to keep the kids from melting down further than they were already we took them over to see a helicopter. They especially enjoyed messing around with the door guns, 240D machine guns. I've spent a good deal of time with the 240B and 240C versions of the 240 during my time as a Cavalry Scout and Tank Crewman.

Usually the 3-year olds only get their binkys at bedtime, but this little guy was seconds away from a total implosion. He was pretty enamored with the machine gun, which was a welcome distraction.

I don't think any of these planes were there, but I have seen a Harrier take off before. I remember it being pretty noisy.

And here's the business end of the machine gun, with a very happy 5-year old on the trigger. He was pretty tired by the end of the day, but kept up a pretty good attitude the whole time.

There were plenty of F-15's on base, so we got to see quite a few of them. I've always thought the F-15 was a beautiful aircraft. It's kind of sad for me to see the newer planes coming on to take its place. My dad's job with the air force had something to do with the F-15, so there is that connection as well. My favorite plane ever is probably the SR-71 Blackbird, but the F-15 Eagle and P-51 Mustang probably round out my Top 3.

We get V-22 Ospreys from time to time flying around the air base where I work. I like the idea of the tilt-rotor aircraft. It's a concept straight out of science fiction art. There just seems to be a proportionally large number of V-22 crashes when compared to other aircraft. It could just be that Osprey crashes are over-reported, though.

The boys also enjoyed sitting in the front of the helicopter, although by this time there was quite a crowd and we rushed them through. I only got a picture of one kid up front.

The helicopter was the last stop for us, as the Thunderbirds finally took off and started their show. The low-altitude maneuvers and tricks were pretty neat. The high-altitude stuff was all square in the sun, so it may or may not have been pretty cool. The Thunderbirds' demonstration almost made all the pain up to that point worth it. Everyone was getting pretty frustrated and grouchy near the end of the demonstration, so we began our move toward the exit along with all the other people who had apparently hit their limit at the same time. We were able to catch a bus most of the way to the parking lot, but it was still a long, hot, and miserable walk to the car. We got some more liquid and food into the kids and they slept most of the way home.

We were able to get a picture with a race car before we left. The boy on the left was experiencing sensory overload with the noise from the planes and the heat and sun, the boy in the middle was tired and didn't want to stand there any more, and the boy on the right was doing his best to look at the camera, but just like everything else at the air show, the camera was right in the sun.

There were supposedly 15-20 aircraft on display at the show, but we were only able to see about four of them, as well as a couple of flight demonstrations. The parking situation was a nightmare, the concessions were ridiculously overpriced, the sun was hot, the security checkpoint wasn't handling the crowd well at all, and it was pretty hard for me to not tell the whole trip to pound sand. I hope that in spite of all that, my kids will be able to remember the fun parts of the experience and want to go next time. Maybe we will be able to plan a bit better for the next show we attend, so that we spend less time walking and waiting in lines, and more time seeing aircraft. I will probably have to adjust my expectations, too, as I really wanted to see more stuff. That's just not going to happen when you are towing three little guys around.

Edit: Today at dinner our youngest (by two minutes) was talking about going to the airshow, going in an airplane, and riding on a bus, so I guess he is pretty happy with his first air show experience. If your kids are talking about the fun they had four or five days later, then I guess that's about the best you can hope for.


  1. That looks like a fun day. I'm sure your kids will remember for a long time.

    1. I hope so. It's hard for me to remember that they aren't quite as jaded as I am, so these events and experiences are pretty meaningful to them. Even the bus ride back to the parking lot was a huge deal. Our oldest son just started school, so the various trappings that go along with school (playgrounds, buses, backpacks) are highly prized around here.