Thursday, December 10, 2009
(Blue) Angels We Have Heard on High
Earlier this year, my mother and I took a little outing together and traveled to a Blue Angels show. I've had the opportunity to see the Angels once or twice before, and each time I consider going, I'm skeptical. After all, they're just airplanes. Okay, they're actually jets. But what's all the fuss about?
Then I go, and my former skepticism is replaced by "oohs" and "aahs" as the best pilots in our military service execute complicated, dangerous, and stunning maneuvers!
My sister very kindly lent me her Nikon D40, since she was unable to go to the show. My mom found incredible spots for us right in front of the media box (which was on the center of the flightline!).
The show starts out with some impressive stunt planes, and various other diversions (including large amounts of explosives and very loud music). Of course, explosives have a tendency to cause fires.
The stunt planes were marvelous! Some of them were brightly colored -- but I found this trio's maneuvers particularly impressive:
The final event before the festivities begin is "Fat Albert," the C-130 that travels with the Angels to carry supplies and support personnel. Watching this lumbering giant take off is quite impressive -- especially with the JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off), which has now been discontinued due to high cost (think $80,000 per take off).
At last, it's time for the Angels to fly.
And then the airshow really begins! The noise is unbelievable, especially when the planes come up behind you. When they fly low, every fiber of your being vibrates. It's a feeling that only comes when watching the Blues (or watching "Lord of the Rings" in a theater with high-def sound! *wink*).
It was quite amusing to hear the barrage of camera clicks every time the Angels performed a maneuver -- with the media behind us and a row of amateur photographers in front, the noise was almost enough to drown out the roar of the jets! Well, not quite...
At times, the distance between the wingtips and canopies of the planes is only 18". That's less than the distance of my face from this computer screen!
How they achieve such precision is beyond me -- although with a 10% fatality rate since the Blue Angels started in the 40's, that precision comes with a price.
I love this shot -- four of the planes crossed paths right above our heads, and it all happened so quickly that I didn't have time to zoom out. I feel almost like I'm right in the middle of them:
But this is by far my favorite shot from the airshow -- the two lead planes crossing, one right side up and one upside down. It looks like one plane with wheels on both top and bottom!
A close-up of a C-130 on display:
Well, some 600 pictures later (it's so easy when you can just hold down that shutter button...), we were ready to leave. And though we were quite pleased to see the trolley coming to take us back to our vehicle, I don't think our excitement quite matched this little lady's:
The wonders of God are breathtaking, beyond all thought or imagination -- He created flight, and He also created man with the desire and ability to tame the skies. The Blue Angels are truly amazing, but our God is more amazing still.
Thou art Lord alone: thou hast made heaven, and the heaven of all heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that are in them, and thou preservest them all, and the host of the heaven worshippeth thee.
~ Nehemiah 9:6 ~