When I was a kid, we used to go to air shows a lot as a family. The last time I went to one, I was in junior high. Eager to prolong the summer fun, a friend of the family had invited me back to their home afterwards. I vividly remember details of the car ride. He suggested we go swimming, crabbing, and jump off his mom’s dock, perfect things for kids and summer, and said his mom could stop at our house so I could get my bathing suit.
I told him I didn’t have one, and then he suggested we just stop off and buy one.
As a boy, he didn’t understand. And as a girl, it was a turning point for me. In terms of boys, bathing suits, and weight gain.
It was the summer when I had gained maybe 10 or 20 pounds and had started to feel uncomfortable about it. I had always been super skinny as a kid, and this was the summer that things started to shift.
Just one of those random, life changing moments that has stuck with me ever since.
It’s funny how things evolve. That boy is now a Dad to a young son (his son is about Madeline’s age), and we now live in the same town as his Mom, who actually was a huge help to Nick a few months ago on an end-of-school-year project.
Since junior high was the last time I had attended an air show, Nick and Madeline obviously haven’t been to one before. A recent sale on the tickets meant that they were just a few bucks a person, and a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon, and introduce the kids to something that I enjoyed when I was a kid.
Blue skies. Temperatures in the low 80s. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was an easy and scenic drive to get to the airport where the show was taking place, and parking was a breeze. Well, I was a little worried about being able to get my car out when it was time to leave, because of how they had me park, but the very nice volunteer told me that if I had any problems, they would land a helicopter to assist.
The kids (Nick brought a friend, and we met friends there) were excited, not knowing what to expect, and, of course, as soon as we rounded the bend to the entrance, there is a small mini carnival set up. Four rides, all really geared towards much younger children, and totally not why we were there.
Beyond the actual air show, there is a lot to see and do while you’re there. All sorts of planes from various wars and missions that you can inspect and even board, many many veterans there ready to share their personal story, live music, typical carnival eats, vendors, and more. We met one guy who was responsible for dropping bombs during one of the wars, which was very cool, and a pretty perfect way to capture the attention of 11-year-old boys.
Outside of the actual air show, Madeline’s favorite part was that we could board the Douglas C-47B Skytrain and see everything up close and personal. In fact, she liked it so much, she asked if we could go back and go on it again. I asked her why she liked it so much, and she said it was because it was so different than the plane she was last on. Pictures inside showed how a Jeep manages to get on the plane, and where they put stretchers when needed. The cockpit and instrumentation panel were something else.
The actual air show? Pretty amazing, and as I remembered them. And the kids, not knowing what to expect, were taking it all in, and instagramming to their little hearts content.
I haven’t yet figured out how to add my IG videos here, but you can see one here, here, and here. There was one part of the show where four parachute jumpers jumped out of a plane. I think they said they were at 30,000 feet. One of them came down holding the American flag, which was awesome. There were a couple events where there were two planes doing acrobatics together, coming so close together, nearly giving me a heart attack. Which, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the fact that my mother reminded me, right before we left, that air collisions sometimes happen at these shows.
If you go with kids, just one suggestion… There are some gaps in between the air events, no doubt for safety reasons. Use those gaps to tour the on-the-ground planes, get refreshments, visit the vendors, etc. We made the mistake of doing all that first, so just sat through the gaps. When you do that, you run the risk of losing the kids’ attention and having them bored out of their mind.
All in all, a completely enjoyable afternoon, and another item off our Summer Bucket List.
Tomorrow? A new recipe.