"We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." James Madison

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A day at the Museum

After having a nice breakfast with my family at a local restaurant, we decided to take the long way home and just enjoy the ride. Heading north on the 215, from a distance, I saw a minuteman missile on display indicating we were getting close to the March Air Museum. In the blink of an eye, we all decided today's the day to finally stop and visit some wonderful old and not so old military aircraft.

My wife asked if we should pay the extra for the tour, but I felt I could probably do an adequate job chatting about most of the resident pieces of art, so off we went. First perusing the WWI, WWII, Viet Nam and Korean War displays, we soon moved onto the recent Desert Storm Kiosk. Pictures of the F117 and B-2 were there in plain view, but as we rounded the corner a display of modern day ejection seats lay before us. I really enjoyed talking about how and why they work. Finally heading toward the door to the flight line, we passed a series of Jet Engines (my forte) and I began to explain a few of the laws of physics I learned in Millington Tennessee at NAS Memphis (I think that was the name of the base, but it was close to 30 years ago). Then just before we got to the door, a picture of "Little Man" was hung on the wall, and that gave me an opportunity to discuss a 'Nuclear world' that we live in.

Then it was time to head out to the ramp. Our first stop was an Army Cobra with gatling gun, and rocket launchers mounted. Down the ramp a little further we came to a special hanger dedicated to the P-38 Lighting. What an aircraft. I had a chance to chat with one of the retired hosts when all of a sudden I heard the familiar sound of afterburners off in the distance. I noticed that they were getting louder and then I called my family over to watch 2 F-16's kickin' it. The sound reminded me of a time gone by, and for some reason I got a little misty.

Moving on to the many parked birds proudly displayed, we saw and this is from memory:
F-15 Eagle
Mig 19, 21, & 23
three F-4's
three F-86's
F-14 tomcat
And so many more, I couldn't begin to name them. The website I linked to has a complete roster available.

But the most impressive of all is the recently retired SR-71 Blackbird. The display monument with a description talked about its service, and the fact that it flew out of Kadena AFB, Okinawa... Okinawa? That was where I was stationed for 2 1/2 years! That bird that was resting so proudly in front of me was one that I had watched on several occasions get preflighted, and then take off with such a roaring thunder, it would make your insides throb. It would get airborne and fly about 20 feet off the ground until it hit the end of the runway, at which time it would go almost vertical. It would disappear from sight in about 15 seconds on a clear day, but could be heard for three more minutes. Have a look.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anyway, we all had a wonderful time just taking our time, walking around these huge 'flying cities', and I especially enjoyed the fact that I was able to share a little of my past military service with my family.

If you are ever in the neighborhood of southern California, Specifically Riverside, do yourself a favor and take a couple of hours to relive an era that has passed, but represents why we still have a future. I've attached a link for your enjoyment.