Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vertical Challenge June 2010

I went two years ago: it’s a helicopter show at nearby San Carlos Airport with about every kind of imaginable vertical flying machine. Police, military and civilian. Big ones and little ones. One day with an air show and the other, just to gaze over the stationery machinery.

Before, I was so enthused by the experience, I not only joined the Hiller Museum, the event’s sponsor, but enrolled in Simulator classes and then flew about the Bay area, first time I had been at the controls of an aircraft since college days.

And I had the same feeling this time. Wanting to be part of this world. I was ready to sign up for flight instruction, enlist in the Marines, apply to the Highway Patrol, whatever it took.

Along with cops and volunteers, Civil Air Patrol cadets patrolled the perimeters, which took me to back to WW2 when I too, was a CAP cadet; I still remember some Morse code.

At the entry, the two woman at the door were dressed in old time airline attendant uniforms, which put you in the proper mood. The aircraft on display in the Museum set the tone even before you got outside to the air field.

The crowd was a mix: all ethnicities and all ages. From wee ones, literally at their mother’s breast, to a sari and sandal clad lady wearing a ball cap. From a forty-ish hunk who demonstrated his chin-up technique (“not bad for the Old Man!”) to young girls in their tank tops and shorts. There were ex-service personnel from WW2, some in their motorized wheelchairs, to the tattooed Iraqi vets.

The show: Several demonstrations by the Coast Guard and the California Highway Patrol and the PGE. their uses of the helicopter plus a model aeronautics show, a flag show, some stunt flying and then: fly bys by several Harriers, fast, fast Marine aircraft, and a C-5, a huge machine, largest one aloft.

II was most impressed by the Osprey, a good sized aircraft which combines aspects of the helicopter with those of more conventional machines. There had been difficulties getting them operational, but all was well now days, per the Marine mechanic I talked with. Other aircraft on display were Cobras, Apaches, Hueys and Blackhawks.

A moving moment was the swearing into the Marine Corps of some 20 or so men and women, who then dog trotted along the field’s edge to the applause of the crowd. All in all, a good show and a great way to spend Saturday.

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