Thursday, May 15, 2008

Snowbirds over Superior

I've been diagnosed by the BessemerConvivialist, a clinical professional by trade, as suffering from one of the most severe cases of TCS that she has ever seen. TCS or Time Compression Syndrome is a brain disconnect where interesting and fun activities occur in real time but the non interesting activites such as planning, packing, and transportation become compressed, often making the victim slightly late for various events. I almost had a flare up of the affliction yesterday. I noticed in the paper that the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds Precision Aerobatic Team was performing in Duluth over Lake Superior at 5:15pm Wednesday. Like my buddy RonO, I really like Cool Airplanes and knew I would be heading up there one way or another. I quickly formulated the plan to leave work early, load the boats, head to Duluth, launch, and paddle out from Wisconsin Point to watch the show from the water. I figured if we left at 2pm we would be on the water in plenty of time and be home in St Anthony by 10pm. This timetable was quickly demolished by the VoiceOfReason. She dissected my carefully laid plans and informed me that it we left at 1pm we might be home by 11pm or so if we were lucky. After pointing the many incidentals that needed to be factored in, as well as my inability to drive past the Thirsty Pagan without stopping for a beer, I reluctantly decided that watching the show from Leif Erickson Park would be the prudent choice on a work night. We quickly recruited GalwayGuy, TheGraciousPartier, and TheLegend, met them in Hinckley, and headed for Duluth.

The weather was fabulous. 60F (16C) with a light westerly breeze. We lounged on the rocks in the park and all agreed that we could wait a long time for the air show to start in conditions like that. We had a cooler and some cups and I had determined earlier that New Belgium 1554 Black Ale looked exactly like root beer. Sometimes discretion is needed in Minnestota, the State Where Nothing is Allowed. I correctly surmised that our multi generational group would pose no threat to public safety if we sipped a beer; the camouflage was necessary to avoid the local gendarmes', as we were accosted at St Johns University the year before in a similar situation. At 5:15 the nine CT-114 Tutor jets of the Snowbirds appeared over the lake and the show began. I don't know how many people viewed it but as far as I could see, several miles for sure, the lake front and beaches were crowded with thousands of spectators. We witnessed some spectacular formation flying, loops, rolls (bonding with we Greenland rolling afficianados), smoke displays, and some high speed passes. These Canadian pilots were superb and could really fly their jets, sometimes reaching speeds in excess of 350mph. There was a large rectangular area of the lake cordoned off by Coast Guard and county sheriff's department craft and no boats were allowed in this zone, where the Snowbirds were performing many of their maneuvers. The three large tour boats of the Vista Fleet were lined up and used by the pilots to help index their maneuvers, according to the Duluth News Tribune. We did see a few paddlers on the water and the lake, which we all know is the boss, cooperated with some light riffles and relatively flat conditions. It was indeed a perfect event and when the half hour was up the crowd wanted more. This little taste was a prelude and a preview of the Duluth Air Show, which is coming up the end of July. Once again the VOR proved to be psychic and we headed off to the Thirsty Pagan for some homebrewed beer and homemade pizza. Sittiing on the lake, smelling the lake and feeling the spring breeze has me fired up for the first Apostle Islands camping trip of the season this weekend. I hope someone is available for an intervention if my TCS flares up again.


Silbs said...

Wow, does that bring back puckering moments in the F-105. I got to ride the back seat and convinced the flight leader to do some of those acrobatics. What a high. I hope our annual air show at the lake front occurs. It is in limbo as of now.

DaveO said...

It was pretty impressive, especially right over my favorite lake. Whats the official reason for the air show being on hold? Also, congrats on your fine legislators passing the Great Lakes Water Compact. Hope the rest of the yahoos follow (I need to do a post!)

Ranger Bob said...

I am SO envious!

I wanted to go see the event, but was tied down here at home. And the weather would have been perfect, too.


Nan said...

Ditto the envy. Photos are great.