Air shows have been part of my life since childhood. In the Nashville area was the yearly show in Smyrna, Tennessee, featuring modern and older aircraft. The Blue Angels’ practice pattern went right over our house, so I essentially had two free features, the week of the show and the day of the show. I stood in the front yard, running out when I heard them coming, and in silence watched them loop and pass and form up and swoop and then vanish. Sometimes a couple of other fighter jets would pass across the back yard. Dad and I would them make a day of it and head out to the show.
Later I was invited to attend the annual Wings Over Houston air show in the Houston, Texas area at Ellington Field. This massive show featured the Century of Flight flyover which included an F-16, an F-15, and a P-51 in the point of the triangle made of those three well-known fighters. They circled the field and the speechless spectators as though chained together, perfect and stunning. The show also presented an F-18 E-type Super Hornet and a F4F3 Wildcat in a flyover similar to that pictured in the title photograph, with the older aircraft in the lower portion and lead of the faster fighter.
The fascination with air shows involves more than seeing the planes perform and hoping the pilots and teams make it through the day safely. Air shows are exhibitions of teamwork, of great dedication and thousands of hours of training and practice, brought together in a weekend for people to gather and watch and stand in awe of the aviators who brave high speeds and temperamental winds to entertain the crowds.
Getting to the air show is also an exhibition of teamwork. There are the roads we travel, the planes we fly to destinations such as Houston, Chicago, and Nashville, the cars we ride in that must be maintained by skilled mechanics, and the air traffic controllers that guide thousands of flights on their daily schedules. Those that are responsible for maintenance, safety, guidance, control, and our infrastructure deserve our respect. They are out there in every sort of weather, every day, putting up with drunk drivers, unruly people, spoiled complainers and speeders and gapers. Teamwork is vital to social survival and it is a set of skills everyone needs to learn and practice and polish every day.
Heritage flights then in a sense are not just for air shows. The symbolism of a Heritage Flight is the essence of working together, of “mission control”, and of communication .
Live, love, learn and share these vital principles every day, and many of our problems will go away. Mission control every day, and the rewards of teamwork will come your way.
Divi Logan, Chicago, 2016.