Sunday, June 17, 2012

Denton Air Show

 If we weren't in the middle of Texas, the air traffic center could easily be 
mistaken as a really, really small lighthouse.

I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to do anything noteworthy this weekend, and I already planned several back-up blog topics, but my dad had other ideas. Instead of just walking around a mall and watching a movie, we attended the Denton Air Show. And then we walked around a mall and watched a movie. Hey, the mall and theater had air condition.

To be completely honest with you, I’ve never really been a fan of air shows. From a very young age, I’ve associated air shows with tediously pacing through heated concrete runways with the sun in my eyes and sweat beading on my neck and accumulating through my clothes. With every other plane, I would climb into the cramped cockpit, look around, and feel nothing except hot and slightly overwhelmed with the musk of military apparel. Even the loud crackle of jet engines and tightly woven flybys became desensitizing, and after a few hours, I was solely interested in hangers with giant fans and booths with plastic toy airplanes.

To be fair, I felt the same way about boat shows, car shows, and home expos, but all of those events had the benefit of being inside. And they usually had free candy; events are usually better with free candy.

So when my dad initially mentioned the Denton Air Show, I was slightly apathetic, but if anything, I could try out my new camera. It’s not a great camera, but I always felt self-conscious while taking pictures with my seven inch tablet. If you haven’t been to the Denton Air Show, I don’t blame you. It was my dad’s first time visiting the Denton Airport even though he’s lived in town for several years. While getting there, we resorted to following road signs and eventually the long line of cars on the humble two way street. And even though there were a few warehouses and trucking lots, you get the impression that this was probably the only day out of the year that this road was ever busy. While we waited, we were treated with our first taste of synchronized biplanes carving through the open sky. They were tight and low, and it was nice so I decided to keep an open mind and put my past experiences aside.

An island of shade in an ocean full of sun.

At my first glance of the copious amount of adults and straggling kids, I knew that I should have brought sunglasses and a hat. These people were seasoned veterans with nearly everyone carrying hats, sunglasses, lawn chairs, and large umbrellas to block the sun. And even though Denton is somewhere between a large town and a small city, there was a very strong turnout for the one day, five hour event. The air show displayed a variety of stationary planes ranging from World War II fighters to one or two modern jets. And while we looked through the grounds, hundreds of other visitors lined their umbrellas and lawn chairs near the runway while the announcer provided short descriptions of the constant stream of planes that displayed their acrobatic feats.

Longer than the line to the porta potties.

Along with sunglasses and hats, nearly everyone carried a camera. Some were expensive with detachable lenses and tripods while others were small, modest camera phones. And almost everywhere I looked, there were people taking pictures. Whether they were focused on the sky, a smiling group of people, or just the planes themselves, we were all looking through our lenses and capturing the moments around us. Normally I would have a pretentious rant about how people should try to savor a moment instead of futilely attempt to preserve it, but unlike a museum or festival, taking pictures at an air show was part of experiencing the event. Even though the announcer chimed interesting facts about several of the planes and previously famous pilots, no one was really there for a history lesson. We were there to marvel at the majesty of flight, and touch the metal capsules that cradled pilots and sent them into the sky, and just lay on the grass with its ceiling full of puffy white clouds with friends and loved ones while we watched streaks of smoke litter across the sky. There were long lines for over-priced festival foods, light beer, and toy booths that enticed eager young kids with their bright colors and spattered arrangements. And it might sound trivial and frivolous, but we were there to ooh and aah at planes, which we did.

 It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... no wait, it's a plane.

And it was fun.

Also, we watched 'The Cabin in the Woods,' it was weird and I'm still not sure if I liked it.

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