Sunday, July 3, 2016

Kirtland Air Force Base Air Show

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is being subjected to Chinese Water Torture and 10 is that dream where you grow wings and fly, the 2016 Kirtland Air Force Base Air Show was a 5.

The 2016 Air Show was the first show hosted at Kirtland in five years and they spent months practicing and preparing every little detail. 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Kirtland Air Force Base. The free show took place on June 4th and 5th and featured planes from the Cold War, World War II, and also modern planes. In addition to being able to stand inside some of the monstrous planes, pilots would perform various tricks to show off their talent throughout the day. All in all, this made for an amazing and rare event that may be once-in-a-lifetime for many people.

First things first, I don't know why I thought I could just drive straight on to base. I even worked on base for a summer, so I know exactly how stringent they are with needing proper credentialing to enter. For some reason, though, I thought the base was open to everyone for these days. That is most definitely not the case! I drove to one gate and was quickly turned in the other direction and sent driving away. SO.... if anyone is planning on going to a future event like this, it is important to know that Kirtland did provide a shuttling system for participants to park at various locations. They then had their own military personnel drive school bus shuttles to the location of the event. To enter the area, bags were checked and people were passed through metal detectors. We shouldn't expect anything less with thousands of people present for the events!

At the event, there were many volunteer-run vendors selling food and souvenirs with proceeds going to worthy causes. The first line I stood in was to get a mini-tour by an air force plane shooter. I was in this line for at least 1 hour and was grateful I had worn a hat and sunscreen as the clouds were providing very little protection. As I was in this line, I was so lucky to get the chance to see talented pilots performing tricks in the planes for us. Below are several videos of the events. I did not end up catching it on film, but the craziest thing I saw was when one pilot flew straight up into the sky to achieve quite the altitude. He would then shut off the engines and let the plane free fall for several seconds before starting it again and taking off. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that! That dare devil pilot wins my award for the most amazing part of the show!

When I finally made it to the front of the line for the mini tour, his stories made the whole wait worthwhile. Here are a few pictures from inside and also around the event:

These are parachutes only to be used in case of an emergency

This is the gunner-guru-story telling-tour leader-person

Here is the station he sits at... or stands on

The damage caused by what the air guns

The planes can shoot off 500 rounds

This is how huge the casings are!!!

Me in the cockpit

Pilot's place

This is the plane I got the tour of.

In the words of a friend Rod Etmer, "Osprey. One of the coolest aircraft EVER!"

Though there were long lines and it was quite hot out, the fact that the airshow had a free entrance fee made this event accessible to everyone. I'm sure it was also memorable to anyone who went. It is else-wise very rare to be able to stand where we stood and see what we saw. Again, the flying planes were the best part for me! I highly recommend going to this event in the future or if/when an airbase near you hosts such a show! Comment below on your favorite part!!

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