Baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet are essential components of American pride— but air shows need to be included on that list.
Aviation proliferated here, and our claim to fame is two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright who were pioneers of powered flight. Since then, aviation is not only an expression of leisure, but a source of protection. Without aircraft involved in all aspects of warfare, our country would not be as safe as it is.
In the past few months, I’ve been to several air shows both large and small. EAA’s AirVenture is held in the hustle and bustle of Oshkosh, Wisconsin in late July and early August each year. I had the pleasure of representing Parks College at AirVenture 2012; for the week, I manned the booth with my two dear friends Kileigh and Bryce. We spent time talking to prospective students and a handful of alumni.
But we’d sneak off now and then to catch glimpses of the daily air show. And with each performance, I got goosebumps— death and gravity defying, I was in awe at how much skill these pilots had. And the shows would begin with parachute teams, towing the American flag, the national anthem sung in the background.
A few weekends ago, I went to the Air Power over the Midwest air show at Scott Air Force Base. Smaller than Oshkosh, this event was just as patriotic as any show I had been. Military and civilian aircraft alike, lined the ramp— big and small; antique and modern; cargo and fighter.
My favorite airplane made an appearance, a Boeing 757. The graceful, slender fuselage is joined by two muscular engines, delivering way more power than necessary. Delta was graciously giving cockpit and cabin tours— I even got my picture taken in the engine!
While watching the Thunderbirds, it dawned on me— the loops and turns and barrel rolls that these skilled aviators performed aren’t just for flash and glam; these pilots can operate the aircraft to the extent of the human body, and, therefore, tactically manage in defense.
My civilian aviation career is protected by these individuals. They are my inspiration to master the operation of an aircraft with finesse, forethought, and diligence.