Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blue Angels Rockin' The A-4 Skyhawk!

DateMe trying on the A-4 Skyhawk cockpit at the Hiller Museum in San Carlos California

 Technically my wife and I are on vacation right now in California to visit my mom, but you always gotta squeeze some aviation in whenever you can. We actually planned to spend our first day seeing the tourist sights in my birth city of San Francisco before we headed up farther north to where she lives, but since it was raining in the city we decided we'd make a quick stop by the Hiller Aviation Museum on Wednesday. We stumbled onto the museum location on Tuesday night when we went looking for dinner shortly after we arrived at SFO... I honestly didn't realize that the museum was so close to where I had lived for a while when I was a kid back in the 60's. All I knew was that it was somewhere in California.
 This great little museum is located on the San Carlos airport about 10 miles south of San Francisco International Airport, and it's well worth the time and effort to stop in. I'll put up a detailed post on the museum before long, but for now I have two interesting things to share. First, I didn't even know that my avgeek friend @adamcanfly had a trip to SFO in the works, but I found out via twitter shortly after we arrived that he had just departed from SFO headed back to home. How weird that we just missed each other when we were both so far away from our homes in Indiana and Kansas. But imagine my surprise when on Wednesday, after we made a last-minute decision to go to the Hiller Museum (which I didn't even realize was in the area we were gonna be) and we sign their guestbook at the entrance we see the entry before us is Adam's from his visit the day before! The randomness of this occurrence is hard to wrap my head around! The only thing that could have been better of course is if we had both been there the same day rather than one day after the other.
 The other thing to share is my simple opportunity to sit in the A-4 Skyhawk cockpit that's not only on display at Hiller but is set up so you can hop in and give its fit a try. So I hopped in to see how it felt. I was surprised how snug it was, but that really gave me an awesome thought for how much this jet fighter must have felt like something you were wearing rather than a big machine you were sitting in. The short nose and snug cockpit made me realize the amazing feel of power that a pilot of such an airplane must have. Most of us never get this kind of extreme experience, especially as the sole occupant of a jet fighter. All I can say is: wow.

 So to drive that awesomeness home a little more, here's a sweet old school video of the Blue Angels flying the A-4 Skyhawk. The video appears to be from 1986 when the Blues turned 40 and were preparing to retire the A-4 and bring the F-18 onboard. I remember seeing some of the A-4 performances back in the day, but watching this video makes me realize that the Skyhawk rocked as an aerobatic platform for the amazing U.S. Navy Blue Angels!

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