Beach exercise

Beach exercise

Friday, August 02, 2013

Obsession revisited



A few weeks ago, we went to the Pensacola air show held on Pensacola Beach.  This was going to be the first air show without the Navy Blue Angels in many years.  It was also my first air show in quite some time.  It got me thinking about the many years when aviation and air shows were a big part of my life.  I had dreamed of flying from an early age and planned on going to the Air Force Academy, if at all possible.  Long story short, it very nearly worked out but for a lost election. 

I ended up in the Coast Guard with a first duty station in Houston.  After finding out where the office was and locating a place to live, I started taking flying lessons.  An obsession was born!  For a very long time I lived and breathed flying in my spare time.  I obtained private, commercial, instrument, multi-engine and instructor ratings.  It seemed that if I was not working or sleeping, I was flying, hanging around airports and going to air shows.  No distance was too far.

During four years in Oklahoma, I was running a small aircraft leasing company in my spare time.  We owned and operated four aircraft.  I was giving flight lessons, doing air charters, plane repossessions, air freight  and anything else that would keep me in the air.  That was when the obsession peaked.  When the time came to transfer to a new duty station, I had to decide to move on or leave the Coast Guard and give in to the obsession.  Luckily, I stuck with the Coast Guard.

It did not end my flying but the obsession was waning.  My last steady flying was in the early eighties, when I actually did some flying for the Coast Guard in Cleveland, both in USCG equipment and charter planes.  The greatest pleasure I had from that was annoying the Coast Guard aviators that I ran over to get the job. 



So back to the air show in Pensacola.  It was not the usual setting on an airport, but the planes would be flying just off the beach.  This time due to budget cuts there would be no heavy military aircraft.  We found front row seats in a beach bar with some shade. The first problem was when our ice cold beers arrived , they were warm.  Upon complaining, we were told that they would be glad to get us different ones, but they would likely not be any colder.  So that is one big difference with beach air shows already.  There were a limited number of performers and the first few were at best boring.  One small jet actually did five flybys straight and level each time.  A couple of others were pretty good, but there was just no spirit in the efforts.  It seemed as if many of the folks there were just wanting to be on the beach.  Some hardly even looked up.  Compared to the many shows of the three decades I went regularly, this was a big bust.  If the Navy Blue Angels cannot return next year, it is going to be very sad.











As we await the birth of our grandson, there might be time to review my next intense hobby, but certainly not an obsession-sailboats!

17 comments:

Gypsy said...

One of my brothers had the same obsession for flying as you from the time he was a small child. He learned to fly and was in the air whenever possible. He had a job in which he had to travel almost constantly, in and out of the U.S. He became aware of the sloppy maintenance of commercial planes and gradually quit flying altogether. Now, he drives an RV when he travels, and if he has to fly I think he takes Valium. I'm the same way about flying but it isn't the planes so much, I just hate the airport drama since 9/11 and refuse to deal with it, so I drive everywhere as well. Sorry about the air show not being up to par.

Tammy Fletcher said...

I saw the Blue Angels once at an air show and it was fabulous. I'm sure after witnessing that type of show nothing else would compare. I'm afraid I don't possess your love of flying. Have only flown once and did not like it. It is good there are people who like too though or there would be no pilots. Sorry your day was not all that much fun. Maybe next time. And....can you take your own beer??

Shoeless Joe said...

My vote is we ground Air Force 1 and put the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds back in the air.

Sherry said...

Bummer about the lost election. Who lost? Who won?? Funny how a little thing can change someone's whole life.

Sorry the show was a disappointment. Is it the sequestor aka TCQAAGAD? (they can't quit arguing and get anything done?)

where's weaver said...

So sorry this one was a bust. We saw the Blue Angela there two years ago. Fantastic!

Carol K said...

The obsession with airplanes definitely gets into your blood--not my blood, but it's in my husband's and my elder son's blood! Sailboats, not so much. ;)

Wanderin' said...

Most of my life I've been obsessed with aircraft. In my late teens I'd sit and watch the airplanes land and take off at the airport. I always wanted to know where they were going. That might have something to do with being excited about going to work for an airline and traveling someplace almost every week for many years afterwards. It wasn't that my job was in the air but the benefits meant I could be. I love air shows .. all kinds. I love the sound of jets and the smell of jet fuel. Yep... I'm obsessed. There's nothing else to say about it.

Judy and Emma said...

It's a good thing we all like different things. I went to an air show a couple of years ago. Best part about it for me was seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales. :)

Jim and Sandie said...

That is so sad about the air show. I am so sick of this government nonsense. I agree with Shoeless Joe - ground Air Force 1 and bring back the Blue Angels. Our buddy Paul Dahl was also a Coast Guard guy.

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

We need to talk. I'm thinking of taking flying lessons with my GI Bill. Don't need another college degree, but to fly is very tempting.

Erin Erkun said...

Nice story about your obsession. I'm sorry the show was a bust. We watched the Blue Angels last September from the beach fronting the Navy Lodge. We were so excited to return to Pensacola and see them once we got on the road in December. We returned ... but the Blue Angels weren't returning to the skies. Now we're really glad we at least saw them practice. Can only hope that their wings have not been clipped permanently.

Rick Doyle said...

I guess warm beer on the beach and no great jet acrobatics does put a damper on enthusiasm alright.

Although I'd like to see the Blue Angels perform, the idea of grounding Air Force One to do so, just shows that some folks still aren't over the last 2 Presidential elections.

Mello Mike said...

Your terrific pics and write up brought back great memories of P-cola and air shows. Spent 25 years in the Navy and retired in 2004.

Phyllis said...

We were camping near Pensacola over in AL late 2011. Took two rides over to visit the museum. At that time they were talking of grounding the Blue Angels, well before the sequester. Warm beer - yuk! Where did they think you were, in Europe?

Gail Houle said...

We saw the Blue Angels practice over Pensacola Bay a couple years ago and totally enjoyed it. Hope they are back in the air soon.
Not a fan of warm beer either :(

Nancy said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Brought back some good memories.
I've never seen the Blue Angels, but have seen the Thunderbirds many times, including a show they did last year in Cheyenne, WY during Frontier Days. Fun watching from the roof of my RV.

Randy and Pam Warner said...

Interesting account of your interest in flying. Too bad about the 'air show'. Makes me sick when I think how things like that have been eliminated due to 'budget cuts'. Makes me want to rant.