Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Charlie! Oscar, Oscar, Lima!

A gorgeous day today, I was working in Holyoke, and stopped to take some pics of the clouds overhead, drifting by on the strong, warm winds...

When out of nowhere, these guys come roaring into view:

It was a pair of the new residents at Barnes Air Base in Westfield, the mighty F-15 Eagles. The little kid in me leapt with joy, as my eyes fixed on the two fighters, and followed them into the horizon.

They disappeared behind East Mountain in the distance, no doubt coming in for a landing at Barnes. A few seconds later the air rumbled behind the mountain, and a roar like the sound of lions fighting in the distance, spilled over the top. Giant lions. The sound of power.

In my early twenties a friend of mine who I worked with got it into his head that he wanted to join the Air National Guard. He was an impulsive sort, as was I, and despite debating what his wife would do to him if he signed up without consulting her, he managed to rope me into trying to join with him. At least talk to a recruiter. We went and applied at Westover, and made appointments to talk to a recruiting officer a couple days later. My friend was quite serious about this; I was not quite so serious. I was just curious, really. I wasn't gonna sign nothin'. I've always been a big military buff; it went hand in hand with, and was usually the focus of, my history buffness. As far as I was concerned, I just needed to know whether or not I could join, if I really wanted to.

It turned out to be a predictable endeavor. The recruiter was brutally honest with me: I was already a little too old, and incidentally a little too nearsighted, to do anything cool like begin to train to fly a fighter. So much for that pipe dream. He did say there was a need for jet mechanics though, and I began to give that more practical goal some serious thought. Then he brought up the tidbit about having to sweat out boot camp, in the jungles of Arkansas, for 9 months, in the heat of summer. Hmmm. That kind of got me heading towards the door. I didn't need to be next to fighters that bad. I could always just catch an airshow, I thought.

My friend was still into it though, and rearing to go. But getting home, his wife ended up beating him about the head and ears, with the cold fish of reality. He was married, with a daughter. His wife had no intention of packing up for Arkansas, nor running the house alone for nine months. So much for that pipe dream.

But who knows what could have happened, if it was only a couple years earlier, and we had gotten in. Could that have been us today, streaking across the sky, into the great blue yonder..?


Mary E.Carey said...

Are those aircraft like the fighter planes that fly over the runners at the beginning of the annual St. Patrick's 10K road race in Holyoke, do you know? That's the best thing about the race! Great cloud photos, as always.

Tony said...

I couldn't tell you for sure, Mary. But the F-15s were stationed in western mass only last year. They've been transfered from Otis Air Base on the Cape.

I would guess most likely the planes you saw every year were the A-10 'Warthogs' that have been stationed at Barnes for years, and are now being replaced by the F-15s. I know I've seen the A-10s do fly-overs at other events locally.