Thursday, April 11

Singing in the Rain??

It was not another sunny day in Florida when ten of us assembled at Stuart Jet Center for the trip to New Smyrna Beach. Weather was threatening to the north and our mission was to "shoot the gap" between two systems heading across the state. The passengers were warned to be prepared for a rough flight.  However, our Captains DeSantis and Christian presented us with a very smooth flight except for about ten minutes during descent.
We were met on the ground by Jim Skelly and Dave Buffington. After the usual herding of cats, we repaired to the Country Inn and Suites in Port Orange where the staff could not have been more accommodating.  They were extremely helpful with advice and directions and seemed genuinely happy to see us.  At times we could see they were just plain amused at the shenanigans that are inevitable when you have a dozen type A personalities trying to operate as a unit. Our scheduled membership flight had been postponed due to weather which was wise as shortly, it was truly  blowing a gale.
Since no one had eaten since breakfast, we headed to an early dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, where hotel staff had arranged for a large table for us.  Sheryl and Gene were celebrating their fifteenth wedding anniversary. This is starting to be a tradition since their 13th was celebrated in Los Angeles with the crew.
 Bright and early on Friday a gaggle of pilots and Peggy headed out to do the membership flight while the remainder rested for a later arrival, as  air show were 2PM to 10PM. We were now joined by Rick Smail and Donna and Gary Noviski, recruited by Tom Taff. This will be the debut of Alyse Grady in her stewardess garb and Captain Buffington is also in uniform.
 The Flagship was situated alone at the end of "Vendor's Row" very near the flight line with a good view of air show. The VIP tent was also very close to us on the flight line. The crowd was sparse when the show opened at two and so the off-duty crew headed up the midway in search of food.
Gene and I grabbed a burger, then went to explore a bit. A large black cloud approached but we did not see any rain falling from it. After the cloud passed, drops began to fall, quickly becoming a deluge.  We ducked into a rather large tent with some other folks and watched the rain and wind coming  in sheets for about  thirty minutes. We could see people desperately holding on to the four corners of their tents and the west facing food vendors were really getting hit with no way to cover the fronts of their booths. Many of these vendors did not return after that night.
Meanwhile, back at the plane, the remainder of the crew was scrambling to get Judy's sound equipment and all the other gear out of harm's way.  A wet crew ended up  huddled in the plane with part of the gear while the remainder was in Jim Skelly's truck. Thankfully, we had been able to keep our vehicles close to the plane. Though the rain moved out a high, very cool wind persisted.  After awhile most of our crew returned to the hotel as the evening performance was canceled and we were in no shape to show the plane. In short order, the whole show was shut down and we got an unexpected evening off

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