Monday, November 7

The Show Days

Saturday morning was windy and frigid when we arrived at the airport at 8 AM, after meeting in the dark for breakfast at 6:30. The Air Force had prepared a tent for us with chairs and a table and we set up our operation. However, we found that because we were going to fly in the show, we were in a fenced off area, along with two other planes, and the public would not be allowed out to the plane until after our flight. That was really an advantage as it protected us from the onslaught of this well attended show. We still had long lines both days except when the Thunderbirds were performing. Behind us was a small building where the fueling people stayed and we were happy to find there were bathrooms there and we were allowed to use them. This was great, as we were a long, long way from any other facilities.
After the flight we moved our retail operation over next to the plane as the tent was some distance away. It was a good day but the wind was constant and wearing. Zane worked the line all day telling people the history of the plane before they boarded which lessened the time they stayed inside and moved things along rapidly. A good tactic. The air show people came by frequently with water and ice and our aides, James and Ryan checked on us throughout the day. We were well taken care of here.
Sheryl and Peggy left for the hotel while the men stayed for refueling. As they drove across the ramp, Peggy noticed a wall of soldiers on our right marching towards us. They were between us and where we wanted to go. We stopped and asked a soldier what to do. He said they were performing a FODS (Foreign Object Disposal Sweep) to get the civilians out and that we should just drive straight for them, they would move. Well this was an intimidating thing to do, but we obeyed orders and sure enough, the camo sea parted and we went through.
Saturday night Jim led us to a place called Shells for a nice seafood dinner. Zane and Tony entertained us with stories of their careers as Liaison Officers for the Air Force Academy where they pre-screened applicants. We got more rest that night due to the time change and the realization that we really didn't need to be there so early. However, arriving at 9 meant threading our way in cars between people and booths to make our way to the plane. The day was ten degrees warmer than the previous one but the wind was still a huge factor.
As our plane was flying we spotted large flocks of birds near it, a scary sight. Gene later said they had to deviate to miss them and the people in the tower said there were about 400 of them. The air show was suspended for a time after that until the birds were out of the area.
We set up our tent because of the heat and tied it down to various things, but around three the wind got so brutal that we took it down and packed up some of our gear. Just as well, as after the Thunderbirds finished at four, they went ahead and closed the show down.
Jim had taken Zane to the airport mid afternoon, and Dan left with friends after the show, so there were just five of us left for dinner at Bonefish that night. On Monday, Peggy and Jake will drive to Jupiter and Tony, Gene and Sheryl will fly the plane to Stuart for next weekend's show.
Back to civilian life after a very pleasant weekend on a beautiful Air Force Base.

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