I left on my recent trip to Washington DC without any plans for the week. The first night I was there Monica and I sat down to make a list of what we wanted to do. When she asked if I wanted to go to an Airshow at Andrews Airforce Base that Saturday I was originally a little wary. I didn't dislike airplanes but I never had a real interest in them either. As I sat there considering a little voice popped into the back of my head reminding me to take every opportunity. No regrets. So I said yes.
After lathering on sunscreen we left her family's house in Waldorf and headed for the base. Monicas Mom is a nurse in the Airforce and had volunteered to work the first aid station that day, so we easily found a parking space near the hospital and took the military family shuttle down to the flightline.
Honestly, we couldn't have asked for a better day for the airshow. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, and a breeze kept the temperature just right. Dozens of planes, helicopters and even a boat (belonging to homeland security) dotted the tarmac. Some were military planes while others were privately owned. There were impressive jets whose wings folded up and other historic planes with interesting names to match their interesting history's. Without a doubt the dominating plane on the Tarmac was a C17 from McChord that sat in the corner. I wanted to go inside of it but when we got around to the enormous mouth at the back of the plane, the mass of people pouring out of it led us to decide to just stay outside. In fact you could go inside of most of the planes and helicopters at the show but usually the lines acted as a deterrent to us.
While viewing the stationary planes on the tarmac was one part of the show, all throughout the day different planes and groups were doing aerial performances as well. When we first arrived a group of military helicopters were performing some impressive stunts, and they were followed by some awesome aerial aerobatics done by the army parachute team the Golden Knights. We saw monoplanes, biplanes, fighter planes and even some aeriel stunts by a C17 (the biggest airplane) if you can believe that. Then there were the Geico Skytypers. Unlike their name this team of airplanes doesn't actually type per say in the sky but they did do some pretty cool designs. At the very end of the show was the crowning jewel, a performance by the Blue Angels. The massive "Fat Albert" started things off and soon all 6 fighter planes were in the air. There was lots flipping, diving, swirling and fast flybys. They had the tendency of surprising you, coming from a direction you didn't expect, usually behind our backs. It was awesome.
I really enjoyed the airshow and I'm very glad I went. That night I actually found myself researching other airshows I could go to, although none seemed to have as many "cool" things as this airshow had had. I'm definitely going to try to get out at Seafair this summer to see the Blue Angels. Their performance would knock my socks off again and again and again.
So now that I've been to an airshow what are some necessities to have/bring for a day on the field?
1. Sunscreen! The only shade you can find are under the planes and that's usually an awkward spot, so be prepared to be in the sun ALL day.
2. Cash. Everything has to be bought with cash so make sure you have plenty, especially smaller bills because some of the private planes want donations if you go in them, and while at least at the airshow I went to there were ATM's there, the line was far to long to make it worth the wait.
3. A folding chair or picnic blanket. It can really start to hurt your body to stand up all day long on the pavement, so if you plan on staying to the end you should bring something to sit on.
4. A camera with good zoom. I brought my DSLR and found myself switching between my wide angle and telephoto lenses all day long so I could get the perfect shot, although most of my aerial shots were taken with my telephoto (zoom) lens. Pictures are so much more impressive when you can get close up to the airplane.
5. A kid. While yes we adults can have fun at airshows (I am a testament to this) kids have a sense of wonder and excitement that can make it so much more exciting for you.