This weekend everyone flocked to Forest Park to watch either the Balloon Glow or Race, but we opted for another high-flying adventure — the Scott Air Force Base air show. We chose the air show over the balloon festivities for a few reasons:
- I’ve been to the race twice before, and while it’s really fun to watch, I wasn’t itching to do it again. On the other hand, the balloon glow is the event I still haven’t attended. To understand why, see point number two.
- Parking for the balloon glow is horrendous. It takes place on a Friday night, which means us rushing home from work to race over to the glow only to wander around aimlessly for a good parking spot — or rather, any parking spot. We endured that last year, and after 30 minutes, we quit and decided to go to the bar. Problem solved.
- Going to an air show on an air base is something military families just naturally do. And since my dad has been an Air Force retiree for about 13 years now, it’s always a pleasure for him to go back and reminisce about being on the flightline, basking in the piercing sounds of the fighter jets as the fly by at top speed.
- This is the first year I could photograph the planes with my DSLR camera. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Scott AFB didn’t put on an air show last year, so I didn’t get to put the D3100 to good use. But this time, my camera was in full force. Alongside my shutter bug father, I shot a total of 439 photos at the center line. (Went a little crazy with continuous shooting mode.)
The big name on the ticket this year was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, high performance fighter jets, based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. My fam and I are familiar with the Thunderbirds, since my dad was stationed at Nellis for four years. Even the mascot of the middle school I went to while there was the Thunderbirds (not affiliated with Air Force birds). Fifteen years after leaving Las Vegas, it was nice to see them perform in the midwest.
It turned out to be a fantastic day of pride and admiration for the men and women who fly to protect our country. If you’re an air show virgin, I highly recommend checking one out — even if airplanes aren’t really your thing. From the pilots to the aircraft maintenance workers, there’s much to learn and even more to appreciate.
Enjoy the show below!