I attended the Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base this past weekend, my first show in at least a decade and possibly 15 years. My family used to love air shows: my mom would take us to the Amigo Air Show in El Paso pretty often, while my pops would take us to the open house at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo.
I’ve long been a fan of airplanes in general, and those early air shows fostered a keen respect for military aircraft as well. A friend and I would pour over volumes of Jane’s Alll the World’s Aircraft checking out the latest Russian, European and American fighters. We’d play flight sims on our old 386 – crudely rendered, but immensely fun for us.
It was in that spirit that I attended the JSOH this past Saturday, especially because of the promised fair: a B-2 flyby, the Blue Angels team, and an F-22 demonstration. I was stoked.
The Navy, Air Force and civilian pilots did not disappoint. I watched World War II fighters employ impeccable precision, and stunt pilots complete unbelievable maneuvers. The Blue Angels were amazing, and though I’ve seen the Thunderbirds perform several times the control exhibited by the Navy fliers was unmatched.
The highlight of the day, however, was the fighter performance. Beginning with an F-15, a remarkable jet that long held the position of World’s Best Fighter, the crowds were treated to a stunning display of power and flight. It continued with the F-22 Raptor, America’s latest entry into the air-superiority game. Though I decry the tremendously over-priced program and question the need for so many of the jets, they sure can fly. I watched the pilot hold his position in vertical and horizontal space, turn on less than a dime, and basically perform acrobatic maneuvers with the grace of an Olympian.