October 17, 2010

It had arrived, the most exciting weekend event so far in my books. That is the Wings & Waves Air Show, here in Daytona Beach. It has been five years since Daytona has seen a huge air show to this extravagance. The whole city was talking about it and the university was very prepared, especially since Embry-Riddle was a major sponsor of the event. Several days before the air show, the planes and jets began arriving. The first group to arrive was the F-16s.

It was amazing! They made several loops around campus while they were approaching Daytona Airport. I live in Mckay and all I can say is that they were low enough that the windows were rattling and I ran from my desk, flew out the door and stared up in the sky, watching. Once they finished one loop, I looked around to see, practically the whole dorm, running out, staring up, amazed. It was one of the funniest sights. You know you go to Riddle when nearly everyone runs out from their dorms or classes (that’s if the teacher lets you), and stares up. After the F-16s landed, things calmed down.

The Canadian Snowbirds arrived late that night. One of the best sights the following day was when I was flying. My instructor and I were coming from a southern practice area and we listen to ATIS, which is a broadcast of the weather at the airport, then Approach, which are controllers who handle people that are approaching the airport. We then hear one of the controllers clear a plane for some sort of vertical takeoff. We look at each other and then stare out the window. Over on the left we see a plane takeoff, then shoot straight up, completely vertical, and accelerate into the sky, it was breathtaking. I landed the airplane, taxied to the Riddle ramp, shut down, secured, and all the other necessary procedures. Once walking back to the dorm, I hear another noise. I drop my bag, run out to the lawn and see it, the F-22, two of them. I was in complete awe because they were so low yet going so fast. Then once they did their first loop, they came back around, for a second one. You could NOT hear them at all. They were going so slow and quiet. I thought they were going to stall and fall to the ground, but no. All the other aircraft arrived later that day, but the climax was the following day, the actual air show.

There were free shuttle buses that ran from campus to the beach every half-hour, starting a couple hours before the air show started, to an hour after it ended. I am so happy that Riddle provided transportation because traffic was literally chaos. A couple of my friends and I actually drove to the air show and took the shuttle back. Instead of taking the 10 minutes to the beach as usual, it took us nearly 30-45 minutes and that was using back roads. Once at the air show, we had the times of our lives. The beach was packed but there were surprisingly spots right around the center of the air show. There were a lot of performers, including the Snowbirds, F-22s, F-16s, P-51, Julie Clark, and many more. It was an amazing sight and I happily included some of the amazing pictures I captured during the event. Now before the show and even coming to Riddle, I wasn’t very good at recognizing military jets, unlike many of my friends. All I knew was that the F-22 was the same plane that flies in the Transformers movies as Starscream, a Decepticon. After the show, I feel like I am able to distinguish many more of the planes. It was amazing to see them perform. From going completely vertical, screaming by the beach, nearly breaking the sound barrier, it was astonishing. Overall it was an amazing experience. Only downside was being sunburned from being in the sun for nearly six hours. Thanks to my genes though, after I burn and turn into a red tomato, I become nice and tan. Later this week is fall break, from October 22 to October 25, basically just a long vacation but long enough for me to fly home and visit my friends and family.

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Alex

About Alex

Minor: Applied Meteorology
Career Goals: To become a pilot for a major airline, hopefully one day Southwest Airlines.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I was born in the United Kingdom and moved to the United States when I was six, traveling between the countries I became a frequent flier. Ever since walking into that cockpit when I was 5, I always dreamed about becoming an airline pilot. One day, I searched online for the best school to become a pilot. Result: Embry-Riddle.

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