09 July 2006 by Published in: General musings 3 comments

Sorry I’ve been quiet. We went to Pittsburgh this weekend to visit Susan’s sister. My nieces have been bugging us to come visit, so we pulled the trigger this weekend and went.

On Saturday, we went to the Wings Over Pittsburgh air show, held on the grounds of the Air National Guard base that’s adjacent to Pittsburgh International Airport. It was a very impressive show. It’s too bad that my nieces, who are 11 1/2 (they’re identical twins) couldn’t possibly have been less interested, because there was some incredibly cool stuff there. My nephew, who’s six, was big into it, and he had a ball.

We had lunch when we first got there. We ended up sitting on the ground under the right engine of an A-10 Warthog. There’s something very surrealistic about that. The kids, of course, were completely oblivious to what those aircraft do and what they were designed for, which made it all the more surrealistic. Susan’s sister had oil from the engine drip on her, so the memory of that was the dripping oil and not the aircraft itself.

There was a very impressive demonstration by the Blue Angels, as well as a bunch of other interesting aerobatics. When I was a child, there was a world-class air show in my hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. They would alternate years–one year would be the Blue Angels, and the next year would be the Air Force Thunderbirds. Then, when I was in high school, they went to an every-other-year format, and I haven’t been there in years. However, I saw the Blue Angels regularly. Too bad it’s been years since the last time.

Now, they fly F-18 Hornets, and they put those planes through their paces. The precision is genuinely remarkable; some of the maneuvers of the four-plane diamond were less then two feet apart in places. It was damned impressive. They went supersonic a couple of times, meaning that some very memorable sonic booms left a lot of people covering their ears. Even the flight crews of the other aircraft were watching the maneuvers of the Blue Angels raptly and intently. I spotted the crew of one of the cargo planes watching from on top of their plane, which was a neat thing to see.

A C-5 Galaxy also performed some maneuvers. If you’ve never seen one of those flying giants in the air, it’s remarkably nimble given its incredible size and bulk.

Among the other aircraft on display:

A-10 (I just love the Warthog–they’ve got a face only a mother can love, but what an amazing aircraft)

F-14 (there’s only one squadron of them left on active duty, and that will be retired in September)

B-52 (the BUFF is still a remarkable aircraft; it’s hard to believe that they’re 50+ years old and still a workhorse)
C-17 (I’d never seen one up close previously)

All things considered, it was really a remarkable visit, and one I’m very happy we made. Sadly, my nieces got all crabby and very unpleasant and pretty much insisted that we leave early, so I missed part of the Blue Angels’ show, which was disappointing indeed.

I know that this has nothing to do with the Civil War, but I’ve always believed that today’s version of the horse cavalryman is either the tanker or the fighter pilot, or, perhaps, both.

Scridb filter


  1. Randy Sauls
    Sun 09th Jul 2006 at 8:54 pm


    Glad you got a chance to see a good air show. Like you, I have grown up with them, living in an Air Force town, but I never get tired of going to them. Our next show here (Seymour Johnson AFB) is in October. Can’t wait to see the Thunderbirds again. SJAFB is an F-15E Strike Eagle base so we always have great F-15 demonstrations as well. One of the highlights is a simulated air field attack by F-15’s and A-10’s. They actually have ground crews on the other side of the flight line set off explosions as the aircraft pull out of their attacks. The heat from the explosions this past year was intense at a distance of a half-mile or so. Very impressive; hope they do that again this year! Man does not live by Civil War history alone!


  2. Sun 09th Jul 2006 at 10:17 pm


    I’ve always been fascinated by this sort of thing, so the air show was great fun for me.


  3. Mon 10th Jul 2006 at 12:34 am

    I loved going to airshows as well as a kid. I grew up in Michigan and we would travel around the state during the summer and make a point to hit at least one airshow.

    Not to lighten the mood, but I found some airshow footage of a Thunderbird accident where the pilot ejected just before crashing. The footage is in to perspectives, from the ground and a cockpit cam on the pilot. It’s quite amazing!


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