Last weekend was the Oregon International Airshow. The Blue Angels were scheduled to be there, and Dustin had gotten free tickets through work. We had planned to go on Sunday afternoon because Abby's birthday party was Saturday. However, Abby and I got a cold partway through the week, and Dustin woke up not feeling well by the end of the week. Sunday afternoon we were sitting around trying to decide if we were up to going or not. We finally realized that a little cold wasn't worth missing an opportunity like this, so we got all the baby stuff packed and put on sunblock. Halfway there it started to rain... not the forecasted weather.
By the time we got parked it was raining steadily, but we decided to stick around for a while. It's a good thing we got there when we did because the Blue Angels performed within half an hour and then the show was over! We didn't even have time to walk around and look at anything. Nevertheless, I have to say that the show was awesome. The first highlight was seeing a Sherpa (if you don't know what it is, you won't care), and then several fly-bys of the F-117A "Stealth Fighter," the delta-shaped black mystery-plane which (we just learned) is being retired soon and will be replaced by the vectored-thrust F22 "Raptor." If you've never seen the Blue Angels perform, make a point of it, although not while trying to hold an umbrella and put your hands over a baby's ears at the same time. The first part of the show features "Fat Albert," the C-130 "Hercules" that the Blue Angels use as a transport. It has four turboprop engines, and can carry a load approximately the size of a boxcar at speeds up to 350 Knots (according to the announcer). The nickname is apt, as "fat" and "chubby" are words which come to mind when looking at one. With "JATO" rockets (Jet Assisted Take-Off) the C-130 can lift off the ground almost as soon as it starts moving, and nearly vertically. Once airborne, it has time to accelerate to normal flying speed at thirty feet above the ground before the rockets burn out. The short-field landing was incredible too. Approaching extremely slowly for such a large airplane, the pilot made a precise touchdown and brought the plane to a stop within about 350 feet!
The Blue Angels themselves, six F-A18 fighters, are amazing. They demonstrated the abilities of the aircraft with very short takeoffs followed by near-vertical climbs. They also demonstrated precision slow-flight side-by-side, standing almost on their tails... held up almost solely by engine thrust. One made a pass at over 1000 miles-per-hour (according to the announcer), battering our eardrums. There was almost not enough time to see it! I can't imagine what it would be like to be an enemy against a plane you don't hear coming until it is past, and one that moves so fast you couldn't lift a weapon in time, let alone aim or fire. Their precision maneuvers at high speed were great. They fly within feet of eachother, rolling all together, or splitting up in what was our favorite, the Blue Angel's "Fleur de Lis." They also come rushing head-on at what must be a combined speed of over 1000 mph if not more, then roll their wings vertical at the last moment to pass belly-to-belly. Abby enjoyed it, too, but didn't like all the noise.
It took a very long time to get out of the parking lot. To avoid traffic we took a break at the first Burgerville, our favorite fast food joint. The rain didn't stop until we were most of the way home.
We were too tired to wash off the sunblock.
Abby had her second birthday party last weekend. The Smith family met at Pietro's Pizza where Abby enjoyed her first taste of pizza, opening presents, and birthday cake. Grandma Smith let her play with the cake a little before it was cut, and pretty soon she was digging away. After she had her own piece, I glanced over to see her stuff half of it in her mouth!
It's hard to believe that one birthday can involve so much stuff. Especially when the birthday girl won't even remember it! We celebrated Abby's birthday with the Radford side of the family last weekend, and will be celebrating with the Smith side this weekend. Then, of course, we will do something on her actual birthday. Her favorite part so far has been the paper and ribbons. She wasn't too sure about her cupcake, licking it tentatively and then only eating a few bites. We'll see if she goes for the cake this weekend.