The boyfriend works in aerospace and his company sponsors a tent at the annual Cleveland National Air Show. I know a number of friends and family members who have gone, but we’ve just never been able to make it. This year, we decided we couldn’t pass up the free tickets and parking and finally attended.
It may have been the hottest day in Cleveland all summer.
We arrived fairly early in the morning but there was already a line of traffic to get in. The parking situation could stand to be a little more organized, but luckily we were early enough to beat the majority of the crowd and get a good and relatively close spot. I have never been to Burke Lakefront Airport and didn’t even really know where it was or how it was used so I thought it was pretty interesting to walk around the grounds before the show started.
We saw the sponsor booths lined up but decided we would walk the area and then return to the tent when the show was ready to begin. We thought that would help us beat the heat, but I was already warm in a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts.
Our first stop was the huge U.S. Airforce exhibit where we got to climb up and look into the solo unit plane. I have no idea how anyone can fit themselves into such a small area. It made me nervous just looking at it. We headed over to one of the massive cargo planes where you could climb in through the lowered rear ramp and then climb up into the cockpit. There were a few kids with video cameras taking footage of the inside and commenting on how there were no bells or whistles, just the necessities. You could look at the two rows of fold-down seats and just image people squashed into their seats. It has to be tight especially in all of your gear. The cockpit seated four upfront and then there was some additional room back by the stairs, but it was pretty compact overall.
We climbed out and continued walking past other interested plane of all shapes and sizes and years. There was also a U.S. Army exhibit with non-flight vehicles. I took some pictures for my grandpa– I thought he would enjoy seeing everything, but it was a lot of walking between exhibits.
We stopped to see a few prop planes and then headed over to another big exhibit by NASA. They had a lot of kids activities and some pop-ups of astronauts, etc. where you cold stand behind and peak your head through. The boyfriend and I had to take a few each.
Around the corner was a booth by the U.S. Navy with a mechanical ride to demonstrate a Navy mission. There were both kids and adults in line so the boyfriend decided we had to ride it too. There were four rows of seats– we were packed in– the lid completely shuts you in and then a screen at the front shows a video while the virtual reality mechanism tosses you around in your seat. It was fun but a little bumpy, and the bumping did not always correspond with what was taking place on the screen. I wasn’t exactly sad when it was over.
My favorite stops were the unique planes– I enjoyed the ones with interesting engines, noses, art, etc. We had a chance to see one of the Baluga planes as well as a recreation of the Memphis Belle. We were just wrapping up our walk around when the announcers started introducing the event, so we headed back toward the tents. There didn’t seem to be anyone looking for special tickets so we just went on back to the company tent. There were already quite a few people there who captured all of the tables and seats under the tent and with umbrellas so we were out front in the sun.
The show started with trick planes, which are fun to watch. They skim really close to the ground, do flips, spiral like they’re going to crash and then soar upward again. We also watched the Jelly Belly stunt plane, which had parts falling off of it in a comedy routine. It would have been better without the over dramatic announcers, but it was still fun to watch.
Things slowed down a bit when they got out the remote-controlled planes. The boyfriend has a remote-controlled helicopter that is mildly entertaining, but these just went on and on. They were small so you couldn’t really see them very well, and after seeing the real thing, they were just a little dull. We thought they should have done those in the morning while people we walking around so you could catch sight of them sometimes but not have to just sit and continue watching them for and hour. We were excited when his workplace announced that lunch was available so we could take a break, see a few people and then return to our seats for the next part of the show.
The afternoon kept getting hotter, but we held out to see the Thunderbirds since they only come every other year. They were incredible– the precision is breath-taking. I really liked when they would fly right at one another and then turn at the last minute. It always looked like they were going to collide right in front of you.
It was a good day, but if we went again, I would definitely need more water, more sunscreen and a personal shading device.