Today is Veterans’ Day, a fantastic opportunity to thank the veterans in our lives, and to remember those who are no longer with us. I would like to take this time to thank the servicemen in my family: my Papa, Uncle Jim, Uncle Jerry, Darren, Eric, Brian, Jordan, Christopher, and Jonathan. (If I have left anyone out, it was not intentional.) With this in mind, I wanted to share one of the things Steven and I did this year.
On September 16, we attended the Scott Air Force Base (SAFB) air show. SAFB is located near Shiloh, Illinois, and holds the air show pretty much every year. Including my college years, I’ve lived in this area for 16 years, and this was the first year I attended the show. What on earth was I waiting for?! It was amazing!
We had decided to attend the air show several days before we went. The first thing I like to do when planning an outing is some research. Having lived in this area for more than a decade, I already knew and understood the value to the surrounding community, but I wanted to get some more information on the show and the base itself. The base was originally named Scott Field when it was opened in 1917, as one of the first aviation stations built to support the US effort in World War I. From the start, Scott has enjoyed the support of the local community, who “hosted dances and receptions, established a library branch on the field, and invited soldiers into their homes for Thanksgiving dinners” (source: Scott Factsheets). Scott Field, in turn, hosted its first air show, called Field Meet and Flight Exhibition, on August 17, 1918 and invited the public. If you haven’t done the math yet, SAFB is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year! Currently, Scott has roughly 7,900 active duty, National Guard, and Reserve personnel assigned. It also employees over 5,000 Federal civilian employees. The base also creates local jobs indirectly – more than 6,500 jobs! I didn’t grow up in a military family, so I have always been intrigued by living so close to a military base, and what that means to the community.
The Air Show itself was very interesting. Once we walked from parking to the show (it felt like a million miles, but I think it was just 2 or so), they had different planes parked on the airstrip, and you could tour some of them! We walked through only one, a cargo plane, and the most surprising thing I saw was a pine tree-shaped air freshener! I don’t know why, but it just cracked me up. You could also get up close to lots of different planes, such as fighter jets and antique planes. They even had Air Force One! No tours through it, though… Oh well!
The pinnacles of the show were the in-air demonstrations. The announcer described everything, from the type of plane to the pilot to the maneuvers. We saw a parachute squad, a B2 stealth bomber, and more. The headlining group, though, were The Thunderbirds. One word – Amazing. Now, I’ve watched Top Gun dozens of times, and am always amazed at the maneuvers the pilots pull off in the film. But to see, hear and feel it in person…wow. There’s nothing like it. In fact, my emotions caught up with me. The announcer would talk about how the pilots might use a particular maneuver in combat, and the truth of it all hit me. On that day, I was able to see the pilots complete maneuvers that they had been trained to use in defense of our country. In defense of me and you. All of a sudden, the tears came at the thought of their sacrifices…and not just the potential for the ultimate sacrifice, but sacrificing time with their loved ones while I was spending time with mine.
Attending the air show was an amazing adventure, one that I will surely repeat in the future. If you live anywhere near SAFB (and we saw a bus from Kentucky), you should attend the air show at least once. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Note: For some reason, I can’t figure out how to upload my pictures from Flikr…so here’s a link to the set: SAFB Air Show 2012.