I have been to a great many air shows in my day. Sweltering heat, dust and other issues often make them fun – but exhausting events. The organizers of the Cocoa Beach Air Show had a great idea – combine the joys of the beach – with the thrills of an air show. What emerged is the perfect American blend of sun and fun.
With a swearing in of new Air Force recruits, demonstrations and flyovers of the F-22 Raptor, F-18 Hornet, F-16 Falcon and F-15 Strike Eagle – jet fighters were well-represented at this year’s show. However, the sleek fighters also had large company in the clear blue coastal skies – in the form of a C-130 Hercules and its Pave Hawk escorts and a C-17 Globemaster. Numerous passes were made, allowing the throngs in attendance to get a glimpse of what the brave service men and women use to defend freedom on a daily basis.
Not to be out done – civilian performers showed the crowds their stuff in the form of wild aerobatics that had everyone “oohing” and “aahing.” Jason Newburg, John Black and Rob Holland put their sharp planes through whips, turns and rolls that simply boggled the imagination.
Most shows have a grand finale to close out the day – the 2010 Cocoa Beach Air Show was no exception. Using the grace allowed them by their F-16s, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds put on a display that few that attended will forget. With the rolling waves of Cocoa coming into shore, the roar of afterburners still in my ear and the promise of a shuttle launch just a few days away – I was very pleased that I attended this event.
It struck me as kind of sad that a young, ardent Obama-supporter had labeled the air show a ‘monstrosity’ last year (even before the show was held). However, the show was anything but that. It was a joyful, stirring display of all things Americana. As I walked along the beach with the sun on my face, the wind at my back and the sound of afterburners thrumming in my ears – I was reminded of what an amazing nation we live in – and those that allow us to do so.
To reinforce this image, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to interview one of the members of the Navy Seals’ Leap Frogs demo team at Fishlips Restaurant. There was a block party held at 7 p.m. EDT at the popular eatery and the Leap Frogs ‘dropped in.’ I then spoke to Petty Officer 1st Class Isaiah Maring about why he does what he does.