Monday, June 30, 2008

The Air Show

As noted in the previous post we spent yesterday in Anchorage at the Elmendorf Air Force Base Air Show.

The parking was every bit as bad as it usually is, and worse.

I swear to all that is holy, unless it has got wings bolted on it, the Air Force just doesn't have a clue. Seriously, a couple of drunken zombies with soup bowls over their heads could have organized the parking and traffic flow better than the troop of bumbling baboons in camouflage that were out there yesterday. Between the gate and the parking lot, a distance of about two miles, I counted exactly two security units directing traffic (well, if you want to call leaning against the hoods of their vehicles, smoking and shooting the shit directing traffic). And I had plenty of time to look around, as it took about 45 minutes to cover the distance. However, there were nine, nine, Senior Airmen in a large gaggle directing the parking of each individual vehicle (Actually, I believe the technical term for a group of airmen is called a clusterfuck, but I could be wrong here and I'm sure the rather large number of AF types who read this blog, Steve, Rick, Vince, my brother Mike to name a few, will correct me sooner or later). Based on my observation, they were highly specialized, one to direct forward movement, one to direct rearward, one for right, one for left, four to supervise, and one safety observer to ensure that the process was completed in accordance with AFOSH regulation. Additionally, there was a Tech Sergeant ripping around on a ATV, looking self important - what precisely his job was, I couldn't say. It became apparent almost immediately that there were no senior NCO's present, and as usual with the Air Force there wasn't a commissioned officer anywhere in sight (not that the presence of an officer would have made a difference, in as much as Air Force Officers don't actually give orders or take charge). Nobody was in charge of the process in any way shape or form. As I said, business as usual, however considering that they've only done this every single year for the last five decades you can understand if they are still working out the process.

After that, however, things improved.

Because, once you left the parking lot, well, there were airplanes involved, and that the Air Force does very well indeed.

The weather wasn't great, low hanging clouds and intermittent rain and there was a chill wind, but overall it was a pretty good day for Anchorage, Alaska. We ran into some friends, and my son and his pal crawled through every cockpit on the flight line. Here's my son sitting behind the controls of an Army H-60 Blackhawk.

Air Show 2

Beastly and I wandered about, we've both ridden in or jumped out of just about everything the military has and frankly waiting in line to see the inside of a C-130 delivery truck wasn't something I felt like doing (Seriously, once you've ridden for an interminable thirteen or fourteen hours in the back of one of those things, vibrating your fillings out like the bitch on the back of a one-lung Harley, strapped to a mesh parachute seat designed by Torquemada himself, breathing hydraulic fumes and freezing your ass off in the subzero cargo box they call a cabin, the romance is pretty much gone forever).

We watched the acrobatic air show, and the pilots were impressive as hell. Then there was about a twenty minute demonstration by a vintage WWII P-51 Mustang, still an exceptionally incredible aircraft even 60 years after they stopped making them. Then it was time for the F-22 Raptor demonstration. Personally, I think this aircraft is a boondoggle of major proportions, but it sure is cool - and the single most deadly and amazing aircraft ever built. Here's a montage of stills from Beastly's camera as it zoomed past us and opened it's weapons bay.

Air Show 7

And then the final bit where the Mustang and the Raptor roared past in formation. It was weird, like one of those comic book scifi stories where the WWII patrol plane encounters a foo fighter.

Air Show 6

Then we settled down in our camp chairs to watch the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds are OK, but they sure as hell aren't the Blue Angles. Personally I was more fascinated by the vintage Grumman Widgeon seaplane behind my wife.

Air Show 1

Beastly disappeared, and eventually returned with hot dogs. And all was right with the world for a while.

Air Show 4

Then this guy showed up. Folks, we need a law that prevents people from going out in public wearing their pajama bottoms. Be grateful that I didn't get a picture of the front of this guy, seriously, you really don't want to know - let's just say that his PJ's didn't come with a zipper and leave it at that.

Air Show 5

And after that, well, it was time to return to the parking lot.

And if you thought getting in was a disorganized nightmare - you should have tried getting off base. Seriously, folks, drunken zombies with soup bowls on their heads, really.

Anyway, we had fun despite the parking and the pajama issues.

What did you all do with your weekend?


  1. Work, house work, yard work, entertain the in-laws, Lego Star Wars. That's about it.

  2. Dinner with nephew, Wall-e, wool festival, not enough sleep, too much tension, some moments of fun.

  3. Wall-E.

    Yeah, I can't wait to see that. The trailers alone are hysterical and I purely love Pixar.

    But, I'll probably wait until it come out on DVD.

  4. I had lunch with fellow UCFers Tania and Anne, thanks for asking.

    And I'm quite sure you're correct - "Clusterfuck" is the correct and official term.

  5. Oh, and just be thankful that folks don't wear their jammies to work in your neck of the woods.

    Why, yes, my company is a Union shop, and the dress code was not addressed in the collective bargaining agreement. Why do you ask?

  6. Seeing as how I'm one of those that occasionally might wear jammies to work... maybe I better just keep quiet. :)

    I spent the weekend reading Going Postal by Terry Pratchett and playing with the neighbor's 5 year old. Today I ache all over from too much horsey.

    Parking. Every year in the town where I grew up, they did fireworks at the stadium. Getting in to park wasn't usually too bad, but leaving was always a nightmare. Some years we parked really, really far away (such as at the restaurant we were going to eat at afterward) and then walked. Other years we wouldn't even bother to start the engine for 45 minutes, we'd just camp out in the car until everyone else left. All for approximately half an hour of pretty lights.

  7. My weekend?

    Coffee, food, read, food, read, nap, read, food, drink, sleep, repeat!

  8. My weekend?

    Friend in from out of town, bought Michael's birthday present, visit from my brother, take from back to the airport.

    Pretty awesome actually! Thanks for asking!

  9. The pics of the raptor are amazing. Did part of it fall off in the shot with the bay doors open?

    And does anyone else think it would be pretty cool to name the next generation fighter the "Reaper". I know we're way to PC for that nowadays, but that would be a good name.

  10. And does anyone else think it would be pretty cool to name the next generation fighter the "Reaper".

    Good idea!

    I worked and did some writing. Nothing exciting.

    And Jim, we're Air Force. Note the emphasis on the word Air. Not fucking traffic cops. The mistake was that they should have hired traffic cops.

    And just to correct both you and Janiece, the technical term for a group of airmen is out-fucking-standing!

    Just wanted to correct that small error there.

  11. Sorry Vince, but if you pay attention to Jim's description, they were out-fucking-standing-in-a-field-with-their-thumbs-up-their-asses.

    (I've actually got no dog in this fight, but I couldn't resist.)

  12. This weekend? Drive drive drive drive pit stop then drive some more.

    Then get home and do laundry. Yeah for decent wireless signal! And we went to see Wall-E too, purely for the air conditioning value, but the movie was surprisingly good too.

    Sounds like a good air show. Even when they're all the same thing all over again, they still manage to be pretty cool.

  13. Yeah Nathan, Jim got the first part right, but sometimes he just doesn't know when to stop.

    Like that's a big surprise.

  14. Not fucking traffic cops.

    Bahahahahahahahahaha! Ya big baby.

    Maybe it was a group of Sailors standing around that is actually called a clusterfuck, I forget.

    Did part of it fall off in the shot with the bay doors open?

    Naw, I was playing with Corel Paint Shop X2, using the layering panorama function to merge five pictures into one and that final shot only was from the waist up.

  15. My military parking story:

    The next country over has a yearly Buckwheat Festival, which is a pretty Big Deal for Preston County (a somewhat rural country).

    In the mid 90s my friend Andy, his brother and I took my grandmother to the festival. I drove, and because even then my grandmother had trouble moving around, she was in the front seat.

    We got there and looked for a close place to park, to limit the walking for my grandmother. The closest parking is being run by the National Guard, so we go there.

    The guy working the gate looks at me, looks into the car, and says, "Any women who can make their men ride in the back seat get in for free!" and waved us in.

  16. Made chili. Well, started chili Friday, and cooked it all Saturday and part of Sunday. Dumped 2 week-old barrels of grass clippings. Whew! Fermented grass. That pulled my back out, but fortunately not until after about 6 holes of golf, during which time I got 2 (count'em, 2!) bogies! 2 drives, a wedge, and 2 putts, twice! Amazing. If I could keep that up, I'd be really happy. But I never can.

    Sunday with new friends, pool party eating said chili, with very good reviews. Vista build attempt, ultimately successful, but not by much. Trivial Pursuit won by the title "Smilla's Sense of Snow!"

  17. My military non-parking story:

    So my mother, brother, and I are at Pearl Harbor looking at the submarine park, when they notice a bridge. My mother, who is prone to distraction by shiny objects, decides that we simply must drive across that bridge to see what's on the other side. At this point in our trip I was the only one who had actually looked at any maps in any detail, so I tried to point out that the whole harbor was owned by the Navy and we couldn't go there - but that didn't stop us from trying. So we find the bridge and sure enough, there's one of those little gate house things.

    Guy at gate: "Can I help you?"

    Inside the car at this point, we're dressed in shorts and tshirts, I've got a huge map open across my lap, and my mother is in the back munching from lots of little bags of snacks. We might as well have had a "hopeless tourists" sign painted on our car.

    My brother, thinking fast: "Uhh. We want to go over there to look at the boats!"

    Gate guy: "..."

    We didn't get in. ;)

  18. MWT, I am extremely familiar with that bridge - the one to Ford Island. Seriously though, you probably weren't even in the first twenty tourists that day to make the same request.


  19. Yeah, probably, but it made for a funny story for us for the rest of the day, at least. ;)


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