Monday, August 18, 2014

Blue Angles: Rock Stars of the Sky.

                                                 U.S. Navy Blue Angels are Back in Chicago

Photo by: Joseph Baumann
The only thing louder then a thousand Marshall full stack amplifiers at an Iron Maiden concert, would be the sound of the afterburners of  an F/A-18 Hornet screaming overhead at 700 mph. However, that was not the case at last years Chicago Air & Water Show.  This year the Blue Angels have  returned to the friendly skies of Chicago, after military cuts were affected by last years event.

F-18 Hornet Blueprint
In 1959 the first show was held under the direction of Al Benedict, a Chicago Park District Supervisor at Lake Shore Park and was part of a “Family Day” celebration for inner city children enrolled in day camp programs.  The budget was $88.00, and featured water skiers, diving competitions and Air Sea Rescues. Over 2 million people witnessed The Firebird's Delta Team, Lima Lima Flight Team and this year's first all Veteran Parachute Team. No U.S. Thunderbirds, No Golden Knights and no Blackhawk Helicopters. Just some Bozo from California flying a Red Bull helicopter and zipping back to Gary, Indiana. Ah. but that was last years event in 2013 and now Chicago makes history once again. The Blue Angels have returned to Chicago,Illinois and has performed before 470 million spectators  at air and waters shows across the United States. They have been astounding audiences since 1946 with their gravity defying flying, commanding presence and supersonic diamond-shaped maneuvers in their Royal  Blue & Gold      F/A -18 Hornets. Furthermore, these deadly Hornets are 56 feet in length and have wingspan of 40.4 feet, and these bluebirds of freedom can reach speeds up to Mach 1.7.

Photo by: Ken Kope
Announcer: Captain Herb Hunter.  Nice guy, always friendly with a firm handshake and warm smile. Good old Herb. He is smooth, quintessential yet had not not log any flight time this year. However, Capt. Hunter has logged 27,000 hours of flight time during his career as a Boeing pilot. And remember folks, if it’s not going… It’s not a Boeing. Captain Hunter has become a household name in Chicago since 1988, when he became the city's announcer for The Chicago Air &Water Show. Indeed, I spoke with Hunter regarding the laws of gravity and a G-force. "At super-sonic speeds, the human body is exposed to a centrifugal force, explains Capt. Hunter. One G is the amount of gravity for our body weight on the ground. A combat pilot can experience up to nine G's, that's nine times the normal body weight. And when the blood becomes heavy, it reaches the brain with difficulty and could cause tunnel vision." What Captain Hunter is saying, that if a person weighs 200 lbs, they would experience 1800 lbs of gravity pulling them down inside the cockpit.

This is article is not just about one's need for speed, but that some wishes do come true. It would be hard to find anyone more passionate about aviation than 78-year-old Ida Settle, except maybe her half-sister Isabelle.  Ida loved airplanes after her mother passed away, when she was only four years old.Their father would take her every Sunday to the local airfield, have lunch and watch the plains take-off in the sky.  In high school Ida dreamed  to become a pilot, but local flying schools did not accept women at the time.  So this year Members of The US Navy Blue Angels meet with the two sisters and received pictures and autographs with the flight crew and the pilots of the Blue Angels at Gary Indiana's Airport.

Buzzing around the Chicago skyline was yet another thrill seeker that’s been affected by this airborne virus. Heli-skiing, cave SCUBA diving and flying more then a 1000 air shows, Sean D. Tucker is a rock star of the sky. Tucker’s airplane, the Oracle Challenger bi-plane is a fire breathing beast with over 400 horsepower that can travel up to 300 mph.  He is a leader in the airshow business and has received all of the industry’s highest honors for low-level aerobatics. Awards include, the Crystal Eagle Award, World Airshow Federation Champion (2000) Living Legend in Aviation (2007) and in 2008 Mr. Tucker was inductee in the National Hall of Fame.  Sean D. Tucker is the only civilian performer to ever be allowed to fly close formation with both, Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.

Photo by: The Evil Genius
My prevailing mood took a slight change for the worse, once the weather canceled Sunday's event.  The winds of Thor blew cold off from the lake, as the grey and lifeless clouds  covered the muscular John Handcock building with a dismal mist of fear. Too dangerous to fly, the FAA tried its best to keep hope alive, but not even the Blue Angels were no match for Mother Nature. Just 24 hours ago,  I could recalled smoke trails and several people jumping out of some type of aircraft. It was too high up in altitude to make out this U.F.O and all I could see was a smoke trail looping round and round toward the ground.  It was the All Veteran Parachute Team taking their big leap at 12,500 feet with a brisk temperature of only 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  This can be a highly contagious Virus known as The Disease for Speed. This illness is like no other. In fact, it will kill you faster than Goat flu. The nasty weather was making everone sick of waiting, and waiting for three hours until the FAA pulled the plug due to poor visibility and a low sky ceiling.
Photo by: Joseph Baumann

When summer stops, the fun stops as well. People will be back to work, the children will be back in school and it will be business as usual once again.  The Chicago Air & Water Show is a reminder to everyone that the fun stops here. Not all Chicagoans will agree with this. Some will shoot their pistols, others will get drunk and then try to hack Facebook for some strange reason. And then we have those who believe in two seasons, Summer and Football. Until then,  let the games begin.