It’s been quite a few years now (IIRC about 15 or so) since I stumbled into the opportunity to have a seat in the cockpit of an actual SR-71 Blackbird. I’d gone to the airshow at March Field in SoCal with my friend Adrienne. We went to the March Field Air Museum first before going to the Air Reserve Base across the field.
Now, I knew the museum had an SR-71 Blackbird. I didn’t expect to see a ladder with a sign saying it was $5.00 to sit in the cockpit! Still near the top of the fastest times I’ve had my wallet out and near the top of the best $5 I’ve spent LOL!
So, yes, I’m an aviation geek. As shocking as it might be, some people still don’t know this. I was about 9 months old when I went to my first airshow and I can’t remember how many I’ve been to.
I’ve been really fortunate to see some rare aircraft (both flying and on static display), to enjoy performances by some incredibly talented aviators, and met some truly amazing people.
The SR-71 Blackbird is an iconic aircraft. With a cruise speed and altitude of Mach 3.2 and 80,000 feet. They aren’t too difficult to find in good museums (they’re still rare), but finding one with an open cockpit and an invitation to sit in that seat is about as likely as someone handing you a gold bar from a sunken Sanish galleon so you can feel the weight. I couldn’t pay the $5.00 fasst enough to experience the cockit for myself! The other pic you see above is from Aviation Nation 2011 at Nellis AFB where I saw a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on the ground for the first and only time. Plans originally called for over 100 B-2s, but only 20 were build as they cost around $2,000,000,000+ each. A B-2 Spirit is a precious national resource. Seeing one fly over at an airshow, sporting event, or parade isn’t incredibly rare, but seeing one on the ground is incredibly rare. Security around a B-2 on static display at an airshow includes a generous distance from aircraft to perimenter, guards armed with long guns and accompanied by K9 assistants, and signs announcing that the use of deadly force is authorized. That was a good day!
Seeing planes on static display is great, but aerial performances are awesome! I’ve been fortunate to see Patty Wagstaff, Bob Hoover, the Blue Angels, and Thunderbirds among many others. I’m hoping to get Ember to an airshow by next year.
So, about those people… I’ve met a few famous people like Pappy Boyington, Saburo Sakai, several of the Tuskegee Airmen, a couple of astronauts, and a few more people you might have heard of.
Some of those people you probably haven’t heard of, but they’ve become great friends. Connie May and TD Barnes are two of them who I met through the Roadrunners Internationale. TD is the president of the Roadrunners and was instrumental in tests conducted both at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site and at Groom Dry Lake, AKA Watertown AKA Paradise Ranch, AKA Area 51. Connie is a published author, historian, and works for a major airline. I count both of them as true friends.
I should have access to a bunch of my old aviation photos again soon, so expect plenty of aviation stories and pics in the future!