Packing up the family and heading up to the Wings Over Wine Country air show proved to be the right choice on that eventually-blue-skied day.
We arrived early enough that parking was not an issue and made the short walk over to the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa. The Boy Scouts were directing the cars in the parking lot, and now one of my sons wants to join a troop.
We hadn’t even exited the parking lot and we were already clamoring around an old aircraft, ready to investigate this piece of history that had been set to reside near the cars and trucks of today.
Getting through the gates was also without event. We were greeted by friendly volunteers who stood ready to welcome us to the show. After a quick backpack and purse check by security, we received our free air show program and were off to enjoy the day!
After the initial awe of just how many things there are to look at even before the show in the sky begins, we decided to start from the beginning and work our way through the blacktop.
It wasn’t long after our adventure began that we realized the only way to see inside ever aircraft display would be to split up into teams. Since we were unwilling to send our children off into a crowd alone (albeit, very nice looking crowd), we decided that seeing most of the attractions would be more than sufficient.
I loved being able to walk into these historic war planes. I may have enjoyed it even more than my kids. There was ample opportunity to learn more about each plane’s history. One plane in particular really captivated us. They had a little vignette on display.
After perusing through the airplane displays, we declared it to be lunch time and stopped for a little rest. Since we neglected to bring blankets or chairs, we decided that Lunchables would taste just as delicious while sitting directly on the ground.
After lunch, we headed over to hear the announcer telling the crowd about program and about the pilots. We learned that each day the air show would have a ceremony honoring the bravery and sacrifice of the first responders and those who perished on 9/11 – ten years ago. The local police and fire departments would have a significant presence in both equipment and personnel. On this Saturday afternoon, the show of local pride was amazing.
These next pictures were taken of an explosion that was followed by a stunning rescue:
After the explosion (and a secondary explosion, which was just as surprising to me), you then get to watch what it looks like when the heroes of our country come in to the rescue.
Wow! The kids were really captivated. So were the grown-ups. Even though we knew it was just an exhibit, we were still caught up in the moment and reminded that – though this was just a show – the need for heroes like these ones is very real.
Waiting in line isn’t so bad when there are so many cool things to look at while you wait. For example, the wires alone in this plane could have kept the kids interested for quite some time!
A little bench to wait on while the line slowly inches along. Accompanying my husband and I on that day were four of our kids. It was even more fun being able to look at them looking at the show than it was to just look at it ourselves!
The biggest plane we boarded was this aircraft carrier. It really made us all feel very small as we were swallowed up into the belly of the aircraft.
One of the highlights of our afternoon was watching the planes do aerobatics. The chest-vibrating engine sounds, the masterful maneuverings, the music and the cheers – it was amazing.
A personal favorite of mine were the old war planes. Talk about exciting! These planes weren’t built to do aerobatics, but the skillful pilots know just how far they can push these planes and just how to do it.
A very exciting part of our day was getting to meet one of the pilots, Dan Vance. Mr. Vance gave us an exciting performance showcasing his aerobatic skills in his P-51 Mustang. Looking back, I wish I had gotten even just one photograph of the show, but I couldn’t seem to stop watching long enough to snap off a shot.
After his performance in the air show, Dan Vance and his daughter take a lap around the field amidst the cheers from the crowd.
Knowing that Wings Over Wine Country hasn’t been Mr. Vance’s only experience with entertaining the crowd, I asked him what, if anything, set apart this venue from others. “My whole family gets to come out to the show with me”, was his response. I also asked him if the beauty of the land he’s flying over had anything to do with his preference for this air show, but he pointed out that site-seeing wasn’t his main focus while successfully completing an 8-point barrel roll. To be honest, I wasn’t looking at the landscape while he was doing an 8-point barrel roll, either!
I had approximately 45 questions I could have asked, but realizing how busy and in-demand he is, I shook his hand, asked him to pose for a picture and let him return to the big tent full of pilots and performers. I was still in celebrity-shock as I meandered back to my group. Thanks for the mini-interview, Dan!
The sun came out midway through the show, and the crowds never waned. The sounds of the families chattering and the planes roaring were a nice soundtrack to the afternoon. The hard-t0-resist smells of kettle corn and bbq were everywhere. The crowd seemed to be mostly made up of families. It was a good day.
The walk back seemed to take a little longer, as we were all exhausted from the festivities. It’s the good kind of exhaustion, though. My littlest boy wanted to carry the pack that his dad had been carrying all day. He quickly found that it was quite a bit heavier than he had imagined it to be. He swore it wasn’t too heavy, but he asked his dad to take it back anyway, because it was knocking him in the back of the knees with each step.