Monday, September 15, 2008

"It's a Bird! It's a Plane!"

I was positively ecstatic, this past weekend! Rare bird sightings in town were responsible for this elation. But as much as I would have loved to have seen them closer to home, they would have been quite difficult to attract to our yard, as they have a rather peculiar diet and don't perch too well. And just as ducks look ridiculously odd sitting up on rooftops, so would one of these birds sitting on our acre lot. Yes, I'm talking about the seven Blue Angel military jets that came to put on a spectacular airshow at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in spite of cloudy conditions.

We started hearing them Thursday afternoon as strange sounding thunder permeating through the walls of our home. Outside, from a distance, they sounded more like the cars on a roller coaster zooming along on tracks. But it was all music to my ears!

My fascination with aviation began when I was a toddler. Living a mile from La Guardia Airport's runway brought ample opportunities to hear, see, and even feel the presence of planes. Later in life, driving along the NJ Turnpike, as well as various roads in Chicago and Minneapolis, gave many chances for us to ride along side as they taxied down the runways. And it was always thrilling to have them roar above us as they came in for landing as we waited in long lines to pay the tolls.

I wasn't the only one in my family who found airplanes fascinating. My dog Shep would intently watch them high in the sky when I lived in a valley not too far from Newark International Airport. And while living in the Chicagoland area, my dog Charlie would gleefully chase them across our yard as they flew overhead. A former neighbor mused at the idea of him actually catching one! One thing is certain: these canines would have applauded our attempts to chase the the Blue Angels clear across town. And had they been with my youngest daughter and me, they, too, would have been elated as one flew a few hundred feet directly above our van!

Saturday's show was rained out, but we got to see the Blue Angels (Navy) on Sunday, along with a C-130 affectionately dubbed "Fat Albert" (Marine), a few acrobatic planes, and the Golden Knight (Army) parachuters.

I had seen the Golden Knights perform years ago during my senior year in high school when a classmate scheduled them to come land on our football field. I was delighted my children were now able to see them. Clouds prevented them from doing their whole show, but it was still awesome!

We had one last exciting moment after the performance when a jet flew over our house on its way out of town. My children all joyfully pointed it out and asked when we could see them, again. They're not alone. According to many comments heard from others and the media, these military aircrafts were very welcomed guests to the Chippewa Valley. --LKR

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