Big Red, Edie and I are always looking for diversions (that’s the same as “photographic opportunities” dear reader). When we find out about an event that appears to hold the promise of cool imagery, it’s a done deal, we’re headed! Such an event is the annual air- show at Barksdale AFB.
Now, there are a lot of very sophisticated aircraft and highly skilled pilots at an event like this. There are teams from all over flying jets and stunt planes. The B-2 bomber makes a couple of passes and the A-10 Warthogs get in on the act too. These tank-killers shoot off canisters of metal confetti that makes enemy missiles chase that in lieu of their plane. Hmmm….I need some of that when Red is getting ahead of himself on his various treks. He has a bit of a penchant for speed and it would be great and cheaper if the highway patrol would turn off and chase some aluminum confetti instead of his 6000 pounds of interstate churning steel!
There are parachute teams, bi-planes, helicopters, gliders, and transports; the list seems endless. In the midst of all this, one team stands out from the rest in pure professionalism and skill and of course seeing them perform is the high point of any show. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds!
Let’s get right to it. When the Thunderbirds are screaming over about 100 feet off the deck, you are so very glad that you are an American. The top speed of their F-16 Fighting Falcons is known only to the designers and the USAF but it is a fact that they are capable of over twice the speed of sound (Mach II). If my ciphering is right that is about one mile every 2 1/2 seconds. The approach is so fast that they cannot be heard until they are on you and then the sound and vibration of the air is unbelievable. These planes are loaded with all kinds of goodies to keep the bad guys away but the sound alone is enough to make you fall down in fright before you get up and run away. Sure, this is a show but no doubt is left with the crowd that these pilots have a job to serve and protect. Bad guys beware, you will be taken out and in high fashion.
My hat is off to all the armed forces of our great country and I thank and salute every man and woman whose daily job is to protect the USA. However, the Thunderbirds provide something unique. They actually bring it right up close and personal. Finding words to describe the feeling of watching the best in the world do their job and to know that they are working for you 25/8 is challenging, so I captured this image and now you can see what all the fuss is about! Yep, my camera was moving pretty quickly when the shutter was clicked but I assure you, it was not quite Mach II. Go Thunderbirds!!