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The Great Lakes International Air Show is a rare unicorn indeed. It appears irregularly, often at short notice, then disappears for an undeterminate amount of time only to spring up again some years later. As such, the previous event took place 3 years ago back in 2013 and it was a snap decision of mine to attend for a few hours as that afternoon I had some filming to do. Didn't even bring the camera.
This year, after the long 3 year hiatus, I was there for the day and equipped with my new Lumix ZS50. I'm kind of a closet avaiationophile but interested in the mechanics and details of it more than the aircraft themselves. Yeah, I could point out a Harvard, CF-18, Hercules, 747 and the like but stuff more obscure than that not so much. What I do enjoy is getting a great look at the systems which make up these machines, poking and prodding at them, and making mental notes of what makes a reliable system. So in a way I was a little disappointed at the lack of static displays. Compared to the last Wings and Wheels event I attended there was little static aircraft porn.
Regardless though, there was plenty to see in the sky, where I guess aircraft belong. Oddly at air shows I normally mostly ignore what's taking place above but once everything on the ground was seen, the action in the sky was the point. Really I took the opportunity to play around with my new camera a little, trying the various configurations to see about getting some clear and dramatic action shots. Most pictures were bad, some turned out alright.
The most staggering demonstration of the day really showed what a talented glider pilot could do with 50 years experience and some thermals. The eery silence of the exercise was most striking. This was followed up in probably the most opposite manner possible as I was in the perfect position (I had ended up at the far end of the runway) to experience the afterburners of a CF-18 lit a few hundred feet above. It's one thing to see these planes operate from afar, another to have one go vertical pulling who knows how many Gs within spitting distance. Guess that's the point of an air show, actually. Also to drop a car from a helicopter.
I have to say something about the Snowbirds. Most around the world probably know the Snowbirds and I'd think most Canadians have likely seen them many times. I know I have. What they do in the air is not to be underestimated. Yet oddly for me, the best part of their demonstrations is at the beginning when they approach from a distance. And all one sees is that formation of white twinkling lights get closer in silence. Something about it is just, well, creepy.
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