Yesterday, I took the kids to the McGuire AFB Air Expo in beautiful New Jersey. Okay, the grounds of Fort Dix were beautiful. The rest of the state? Not so much. Riding shotgun during the excursion was everyone's favorite fireman, Captain America, who brought his son Nick along. After five minutes of listening to the Captain rant about the city, politics, and what he would do if he worked in a toll booth, I was ready to throw him out of the moving vehicle.
Any hoo, we arrived in fairly quick fashion and followed the cheery armed MP's to our parking area: a huge grass field. It was like parking at a NASCAR race, without the pesky rednecks. We packed up our things - snacks, water, chairs, sunscreen, thongs, etc. - and followed the crowds to the tarmac. Of course, with a 7-year old and a 4-year old in tow, I had to stop at almost every Porto-Potty on site. "Dad, tinkling in these things is fun!"
Shuttle buses moved everyone across the base, and we made it to the tarmac and past the checkpoint without incident. This is going to sound stupid - even from me - but I was surprised how heavily armed the Air Force personnel were. Almost everyone carried (what appeared to be) an AR-15 and a .45 pistol. They were friendly enough to the kids, but they were ready to rock and roll if the need arose.
Of course, there are also perks to being in the Air Force. Like having a fabulous Air Force Babe bring the security perimeter pizza:
Captain America embarrassed everyone by telling our guards, "Wow, you know it's the Air Force." the Army would have left us for dead." They laughed, but I was hoping they would shoot him. No such luck. At least my boys were having a blast.
Would it really kill Erik (right) to look at the camera?
I was able to get a lot of video, and this demonstration by the F-16 Viper - a low-speed pass - was one of the highlights of the day. It wasn't fast or powerful, but it really showed everyone how versatile the F-16 can be:
Toward the end of the day, we were treated to a Navy Legacy Flight. It consisted of an F-15 Eagle, an P-51 Mustang (thanks for the correction, JPG), and an F-16 Falcon flying in formation. The Captain and I were amazed when comparing the sizes of the three fighters. Those WWII birds were so tiny, while the Eagle is a beast:
By the end of the day, the kids were pretty beat. The Captain whored himself out for some fire department time, so we made our way to the parking lot before the T-Birds opened up. We figured that we could watch them from the parking lot, then hop in the car and beat the traffic. It was a good plan . . .
Except that the buses were ordered to park until after the T-Birds finished. The trip from the tarmac to our parking lot was about a mile, according to one airman, so we sucked it up and got ready to march. And then the angels appeared. Two beautiful Air Force angels of mercy drove up in their van and asked if we were going back to the lot. I told to kids to look even more pathetic to play upon their sympathies, and they told us to hop in. The drive back was terrific - especially in air-conditioned comfort. The kids idolized those girls at that moment.
Finally, the Thunderbirds took the the skies, and were (as expected) phenomenal. We watched their performance form the parking lot, but as you can see, they didn't disappoint:
It was totally worth the trip. Hopefully, we'll go next year as well.