I attended an air show after 17 years, and this is what happened

When I was a much younger version of myself, my mother used to work at the local air show. Year after year I would watch her sell things to all too eager people while also watching planes whiz overhead.

How I envied her yearly Air Show t-shirts and curly head of hair.

Then, it all came to an end. Mom straightened her hair and gone were the days of behind-the-scenes access to air shows because, well, the air show was no more.

Until now. 17 years later, the airport brought back the show, and I got to attend with a more informed perspective on aviation.

My Connection to Aviation

While I work in a field that deals with aviation (a little more on that later), aviation has always been a part of my life. As I’ve said, I grew up going to air shows with my mother, who worked/volunteered ever year when I was growing up.

More recently, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to flight benefits and can travel pretty much whenever I want.

Now, I appreciate travel more than I ever have. When I was younger, I never flew anywhere. I didn’t until I was 18, I got those handy flight benefits when I was 23, and then I started working with a company that sells aviation fuels and lubricants when I was 25.

I write about planes all the time, I see them fly over my house, and I’m surrounded by people who stop dead to look up at a plane and can identify it immediately.

So, I get it now. I didn’t get why people loved planes when I was younger — heck I wasn’t really aware of it, if we’re being completely honest — but I get it now. And that had an impact on how I was at the air show this year.

All Eyes on the Sky: Attending the AirShow

When we first walked into the show, the static plane display was immediately to our left, so we started there. We got to talking to one of the people standing at the first group of planes and he was telling us all about their history.

Now, I write about WWII era planes often, always speaking of how they are made of wood and covered with fabric. There was a part of me that never really understood that. Why would they be made of wood? Why wouldn’t the whole thing be made of metal?

A O-1 Bird Dog featured in the static display at the air show.

The man standing with that plane told us that bullets would just fly through the wings and the pilots would keep on flying like nothing happened. That was amazing to hear!

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have really cared about any of this. At least not the way that I do today.

When he told us that the plane’s wings — which we were standing directly underneath — were made of wood and covered with fabric, I reached up to feel it, because I didn’t believe it. It looked nothing like fabric.

That was cool.

The T-6G Texan that trained the first female pilots.

It all started to hit home, in a way. I was able to nod and mean it when he talked about these things. I got it.

Another plane we saw in the static display (above) was one of the first planes to train the first female pilots. If you look at some of my writing on TheFlightBlog.com, you’ll notice that I have a few pieces on females in the industry. This was one of the planes that stuck out to me the most at the show.

To see it up close and personal — a plane that had such a cool role in history — is something I’ll never forget.

When I was a wee gal

The main thing I remember from going to these shows when I was young is the air portion of the show. I remember sitting up against the fence near where my mom was working and watching the planes fly above me.

I remember the sounds — though they do blend together over the years. I live right near the airport and wake up and fall asleep to the sounds of commercial and privately owned airplanes flying by.

But this was different. These were louder and closer. It was cooler.

A Privately Owned Top Cub CC18–180.

What I don’t remember though is watching the planes kind of flip-flop in the air. It’s something I noticed this time and will never forget. My heart skipped a beat every time, but the pilots always pulled their planes back and continued on with their performance.

I understand the purpose of smoke oil. It’s not just something funky they do — they do it because they move so fast and the smoke lets you better see the maneuvers and tricks they do. It draws a line for you to follow after they’ve done their moves.

At the end of the day, going to the airshow with this new perspective on planes was a really cool experience. You might even say I’m one of the enthusiasts now.

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