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Air Power

August 2007: Whooooosh!

Sky Doodles
Air shows tend to feature a lot of stuff like this... Planes doing loops, spins, flying at weird angles, upside down, backwards (well, maybe not backwards), and always trailing lots of smoke. The smoke does help quite a bit - from a distance, it's hard to tell just exactly where a plane is going, or how fast it's going there without some reference point in the nearby sky. The smoke provides that reference.
Oh, go get a helicopter!
While the redneck inside me thinks it's kind of cool, the cynic inside me can get a bit, well, cynical of the never-ending stunt flying. I guess part of the reason is that unless you're a pilot, it's hard to relate to the skill and hardware required to pull this stuff off.
Ok, so this was pretty darn cool. Probably the loudest moment for me at the air show was when this stealth fighter turned it up just a few hundred feet overhead. About 10 seconds later, a wind from the wash blew down out of the otherwise still air. Now, that was close! (Though, not very stealthy).
It's about a 5 minute bike ride from my home to the edge of the Hillsboro airport... and the best seats seem to be an empty field just beyond the main runway (it's also free). The Blue Angels took off with a roar.
This jet is banking so powerfully, a partial vacuum is created on the top of the wings. The pressure change is visible in condensation.
4 of the 6 Blue Angels mostly stick together and do team manuvers like this.
The other two shoot in out of nowhere and shoot past nearly too quickly to really see what's happening.
Coming In
The Blue Angels were formed after World War II, in 1946, as a public relations and outreach team - promoting naval air power.
Slowing it Down
The Blue Angels currently fly F/A-18 Hornets. As fast as they do fly at the air show, these jets are capable of speeds up to Mach 1.7. At an air show in suburbia, of course, they can't break the sound barrier lest they create a sonic boom, break windshields, set off car alarms, scare little kids, etc...
In April 2007, one of the Blue Angels crashed during an air show. The cause of the crash has still not been determined.
Where Next?
Blue Angels pilots only tour with the group for a couple years before moving on with their careers. As of 2007, there have been 262 Blue Angels pilots since the founding of the group.

September 2005: Your tax dollars at work... or rather at play

Piercing the Clouds
I'm not much of "heavy machinery" guy, but I live within spitting distance of the Hillsboro, OR airport, which is home to an annual air show. This year, the highlight was the Air Force Thunderbirds. I just had to step outside my door to get these photos. A dramatic afternoon sky made a striking backdrop.
In Formation
Taking these photos was a bit of a sport. I finally got to use that burst shooting mode on my camera for something useful.
Heavy Machinery
Yes, they got this close. However, they weren't as loud as they sometimes can be. When they were flying close overhead, they were usually flying straight ahead. I think they save the loud afterburners for the crowd at the airport.
Closing In
The local officials close some of the major roads around the airport while the Thunderbirds are doing their show. I used to think this was a silly thing to do. But, I think I figured out why... just as a small group of us watched a particularly close pass, a couple cars got in a tangle at a nearby intersection. Talk about distracted driving!
Screaming Overhead
I may complain about the military sometimes, but I'd rather see them doing this kind of stuff than bombing some nameless village halfway around the planet.
To the Sky
Despite my best efforts to remain cynical, in the end I had to admit it - feeling the roar of a half-dozen jets fly by at hundreds of miles per hour just a hundred yards above your head is pretty damn cool!

Where is it?

Nearly every metropolitan area has one... The local air show is in Hillsboro, OR every year in late summer.

Before you go...
Remember the sunscreen.

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