A long, long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in the latter stages of high school or just out of it, I had a friend who was really into aviation and planespotting. At the time, I had never been on a plane before and didn’t know much about them, but he took me to the viewing area at CVG and instantly I was hooked. He took me to the Dayton Air Show one summer (I think this was 2004 or 2005), and I can’t remember a damn thing about the air show that year other than I went (and it was hot, and I got the worst sunburn ever).
Since then, I’ve gone as many more times as I could. I was there in 2007 when Jim LeRoy crashed doing a maneuver and I didn’t sleep for days. I’ve seen the Blue Angels a handful of times and the Thunderbirds probably just as many, and I remember one year getting to see the Columbus Blue Jackets’ team plane on display. One year the Canadian armed forces had a helicopter there and the pilots gave me a tiny Canada flag pin that I probably still have around here somewhere. There was the year when military funding kept the Blue Angels away. There was the year when the Blue Angels had a fatal accident and canceled their season. There was last year when a freak accident caused a Thunderbird to crash in practice for Dayton and cancel their performance.
The Dayton Air Show has, for the entirety of my adult life, been a staple of summer. I mean, there’s truly nothing like standing on an airport tarmac in the blistering hot sun watching airplanes fly over while you fester in the comforts of your swamp ass. But I love airplanes, man. My favorites have always been the Blue Angels, and whatever other fighter demos there happen to be.
The last couple of years it has become a tradition not just for me but for my whole family. Of course, nobody shares my passion for airplanes, but they at least humor me by coming along for the ride (there are free hot dogs involved). This year the Blue Angels made their much-awaited return and did not disappoint. Even if you aren’t “airplane people” like me, the jet team demos are ridiculously exciting.
Being from Ohio is a blessing when it comes to being into aviation. With the Wright brothers from Dayton, we have such a rich heritage of aviation history here, plus the National Museum of the United States Air Force is just outside Dayton on Wright-Patt’s base and is full of all kinds of history and aircraft that only the Smithsonian can rival. It’s not for everyone, of course, but for me it’s a huge part of my summers and I already can’t wait for next year.