Actually, I guess that should be unicycling in restricted airport space.
My local small town airport is hosting a big time air show this weekend. The headliners are the U.S. Navy Blue Angles, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. Despite the small airport they have a big runway that used to belong to the Navy. This air show is a big deal with lots of planes in the air and on-the-ground displays.
Back to my story ….This evening I rode my 29er to the airport to see what there was to see. There really was not much to see (yet) but as I approached the airport terminal, someone saw me. This guy in an official air show white pickup truck drove by and yelled out of his window for me to follow him. He used his magic magnetic pass card to open a secured gate into a restricted area and motioned for me to follow. So, there I went, riding madly across the airport tarmac on my unicycle, past several small airplanes and following this guy in his truck. All the while I was wondering if I was going to get arrested for trespassing. Between thoughts of involuntary confinement I was wondering just what was it that he wanted of me. Was I going to get invited to be part of the grand show? Did they have some special part for me to perform? Would I be able to bring in some of my fellow unicyclists? Was there some special person he wanted me to meet? I also thought about how rough and uneven the tarmac was. I expected better from an airport.
As I approached what turned out to be our destination, I noticed a group of about a dozen men standing around and apparently relaxing with some cold drinks. I surmised that these guys were the planning committee for the air show and they were getting ready to quit for the day. The guy who invited me in must have been the head guy for the air show.
I found out why he wanted me to follow. He just wanted to borrow my unicycle so he could show the rest of the guys he could ride it. And, he did ride it even though as one of the men pointed out, he had already drank “a cold one”. He made 2 short shaky rides. Despite having never seen “a unicycle that big” he managed to freemount it after his first short ride. He confided to me that he had not been on a unicycle in 15 years.
Well, that was the end of my excitement. I shook his hand and invited him to our weekly unicycle club gatherings but he said he was busy on Tuesday nights. For my departure, they pointed me to an open gate next to the road. I guess things were not as secure as I thought.
Off I went, riding into the sunset. My great air show adventure was over. My hopes had been built up and then dashed when I realized it was not me the guy wanted, it was my unicycle.
Jacquie and I went to the Reno Air Races on Saturday. I think it’s the biggest (if not only) air racing event in the country, and attracts something like 50,000 people on the weekend days. The races/shows are not actually in Reno, but at the “Reno Stead Airport” in the small town of Stead, just north of Reno. Two big runways and lots of apron and open space. And the biggest frikking grandstand I think I’ve ever seen!
Anyway, this year they had the Snowbirds (Canada) as their featured big act, but last time we attended it was the Thunderbirds. In the post-9/11 world, they’re a little more paranoid, and didn’t even land at the Stead airport. Instead they flew in and out from a nearby active military base. I wonder if the Blue Angels will do the same?
Yes, it’s fun being surrounded by pilots. There are always amazing and famous pilots (and astronauts) present, and it’s obvious that a lot of the spectator are pilots as well. I can see pilots learning to ride unicycles…
Pictures from our two previous visits. This year I shot 3.5 GB of RAW images and it will take me a while to get them posted… 2005 pictures 2002 pictures
The Blue Angels have always landed at the Millington airport, even since it became a civilian facility. The runway is plenty long for jets. I think it is about 8,000 feet. Several years ago, the Blue Angels had a holdover day at Millington (part of the old Navy base is still an active Navy facility) so they took the opportunity of good weather and good facilities to do a practice run of their show. Millington residents got an extra show on Monday. The Blue Angels were in Millington two years ago.