I’ve grown up with a love of planes and hope to pass on some of that to my daughter, which is why Toddler Harbat and I went to the Miramar air show on Sunday. It was foggy, which meant the flying demonstrations would be grounded. Good thing, I thought, since it’d give us time to walk around and look at the parked planes without any simulated air strikes nearby. But on the way to the airfield TH got something in her eye, and it was red and almost swollen shut by the time we got there. What a tough girl, she didn’t cry, but asked for some water to rinse it, and she squinted her way through the displays. She actually managed to take off, hover, and safely land a UH-1 Huey, but she was a little shaky, and I’ll attribute that to not being able to see from one eye. And she couldn’t reach the pedals or controls.
But what am I thinking, I’m missing the highlights of the airshow: funnel cake and rickety carnival rides! Whether it was the powdered sugar on the funnel cake or just the toxins slowly being washed from her eye, she was feeling better when we came upon a mini-carnival complete with slightly-too-fast rides manned by sullen texting youths and fresh parolees. Maybe it’s the real fear of injury that makes these rides so exhilarating. TH really liked the mini Ferris wheel, as evidenced by this stunning documentary footage.
Then there were ‘splosions. Oh lawdy, the ‘splosions! As we were wrapping up our festival rides, several fireballs erupted from the flight line as a pair of battle-ready choppers raced by. From a thousand feet away, the heat and shockwave from these pyrotechnics were impressive. Toddler Harbat was less exhilarated and more wary. “I don’t like those booming,” she told me. Several times.
Evidently fireballs are an integral part of the armed forces hoo-rah at the Miramar air show. As a pair of massive helicopters bristling with weaponry roared overhead, the announcer screamed, “These CH-53E Super Stallions represent UNSTOPPABLE force on the battlefield! When insurgents see these coming, they…will…experience…AR-MA-GEDDON!” [BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM!] Off went the fireballs sending orange and black mushroom clouds up through the mist. Even green foam earplugs and hands clamped over ears didn’t do much for Toddler Harbat, and that was before the fighter planes were cleared for display.
If you’ve never heard an F-16 scream by at the speed of sound roughly a hundred feet overhead, you haven’t lived, man. But your ears and nervous system will thank you if you stay away. TH and I were checking out the cavernous innards of a C-5 Galaxy when the sonic blast of a full-throttle fighter jet made a crescendo to a level I’ve never experienced. At some volume, sound becomes a bodily sensation, and at peak level I had to hold myself back from running away. We are animals, after all, and incredibly loud noises quickly give us prey animal reactions. Toddler Harbat was really good, though, and didn’t cry or demand to be taken home. But we’d both had enough and retreated home for some quieter activities. Next year I think I’ll take her again, since she did really enjoy the biplane “painting smoke in the sky”. But I’ll bring along some of those thick head-clamp style ear protectors so we can watch the planes without scurrying away like rabbits.
I’ll leave you with the show’s beautiful artwork that is so chock full of patriotic imagery you will feel your heart swell and will spontaneously hum the national anthem. Behold! America!