Flagler Beach, Florida
A cold front moved in Friday night and we awoke to temps in the upper 50’s. That’s pretty normal in the winter months, but usually it gets quite a bit warmer as the day wears on.
Yesterday, the high temperature didn’t even get into the 60’s, the wind was blowing and there was no sun! Perfect day for an airshow….yeah, right!
Anyway, we made the 80 mile trek, straight north, to Jacksonville, Florida.
We found our way to NAS Jacksonville (Naval Air Station). We got right onto the base through the main base gate.
Once we got on base, traffic was stop and go for nearly an hour. We finally parked along the very long flight line, but it was almost a mile to the main events at the show. It was a cold and windy walk, but we were entertained with small planes doing aerobatics as we walked along the flight line.
We walked around for several hours, managing to stay relatively warm. It was the wind that made it so miserable. We were dressed fairly warmly, but sure could have used a hat for our heads. Al’s knees were killing him from hours of walking on concrete.
We thought the Blue Angels were supposed to perform at 2:30, but it ended up being an hour later.
There were planes you could go inside, but the lines were long, so we didn’t even consider it.
The next picture is a plane from the US Customs and Border Patrol. I thought it was a very interesting aircraft.
There were the usual food vendors, including ones that sold cold beer and ice cream. I don’t think either sold much. Hot coffee was the order of the day.
My old company, USAA was a sponsor of the show and had a booth, so we stopped by and got a free calendar.
There was a large black Prevost motor home there all roped off. Evidently it was for the P-51 show pilots. Those were the old WWII fighter planes. Pretty nice motor home,huh?
There were sure some amazing pilots at this show. As they were flying, the announcer would tell you about the pilot and the plane. It was very interesting.
We decided to go back to our truck where we’d be warm and we could wait there for the Blue Angels to start. Since the truck was parked right next to the flight line, we figured we would have a good place to watch the show. A lot of others had the same idea. The MP’s were busy trying to keep us away from the roped off area of the flight line, saying it was too dangerous. Well, I guess being 10 feet back to where our cars were parked was much safer.
Finally, the moment came that everyone was waiting for. The Blue Angels were ready for take-off!
First came “Fat Albert” This is the plane their crew of 42 fly in. I thought it was going to be just a big fat plane flying around, but it was actually pretty cool to watch. Note the gray sky.
If you click on the Blue Angels link above, it takes you to their website. I encourage everyone to go there and check it out. If anyone has not seen the Blue Angels or the Air Force Thunderbirds….do it!
Some interesting facts I found on their website.
They entertain some 11 million people a year during air shows!
Their first show was in 1946.
The average age of the pilots is 33 years old.
One Blue Angel pilot became an astronaut….Commander Chuck Brady.
One of the pilots is a Marine, with 16 other Marines in their squadron.
The closest the planes fly together is…..18 inches! Amazing, huh?
The F/A 18’s they fly are all “carrier ready” and can be made combat ready in 72 hours. In the picture below you can see the tail hook that is used to hook them when they make a “controlled crash” landing on an aircraft carrier.
Top speed is just under Mach 2, which is twice the speed of sound…or 1400 mph.
Here they are getting ready to take off.
I can tell you, it was very worth the wait. The Blue Angels were absolutely amazing! I hadn’t seen them or the Thunderbirds (Air Force) perform for at least 10 years and I had forgotten how they make me feel. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when they fly right over your head in perfect formation. I think the very loud sound of the jet engines are a part of the experience….and normally I hate loud noises! Every time they would fly directly over head, I would get goose bumps!
I saw my first air show in Japan when I was 8-9 years old. It was the Air Force Thunderbirds, and I still remember it. I guess they made an impression on me because I can barely remember what I had for breakfast now.
It was very difficult to get pictures yesterday. It was so windy and I had a terrible time holding the camera steady enough when I zoomed in. Plus they are moving so darn fast!
I never did get all six aircraft together.
The next picture shows four of them together…two upside down.
Yeah, I do love these guys!
The Blue Angels are based in Pensacola, Florida (panhandle, west side) and I’ve heard you can watch them practice when they are home between shows. It’s something we have been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten to yet. You can park along the beach causeway and sit in your car and watch them. We are more determined than ever to do that this next summer. (don’t want to go there now…too cold)
Today, we’re heading north to Palm Coast for the seafood festival. It’s much warmed today and should be much better.