“When the hound dog barkin’ in the black of the night
Stick my hand in my pocket, everything’s all right.”
“Just Got Paid”
The sun beat down as a lone F-16 raced through the clouds.
Lt. Col. Christopher Hammond was on a solo mission in jet No. 1 to check the height of the clouds before the other five launched. The show was on. It was just a matter of what show we were going to see: high, middle or flat.
Hammond, the commander and leader of the Thunderbirds, radioed back that the clouds were low enough for the flat show. The stunts would take place at no higher than 2,000 feet.
The thunderous F-16s launched one at a time, streaking away and doing something different as they left the ground. Capt. Nicholas Eberling took No. 6 straight up like a rocket.
The high humidity thickened the air streams coming off his jet as the afternoon rain soaked into our butts. The rain had chased away a good chunk of the crowd Saturday during the Wings Over Whiteman air show. We took advantage of the wet, open bleacher seats to watch the Thunderbirds blast through the dirty cotton ball skies.
It was worth the wait. But we had to put in some work. We waited in car lines for three hours, The Best of ZZ Top drowning out the cicadas as A-10s, a B-2 and other aircraft went through their routines around us. We made it on base just in time for the rain to start.
We splashed through the water running across the tarmac and took shelter under enormous wings, engines and fuselages. Everywhere you looked, people lined up to take shelter under the wings of massive aircraft, from the C-5 Super Galaxy to a B-1 bomber and a series of enormous open hangars. After waiting more than an hour, we gave up and were wandering around the static displays on our way out when a piece of blue sky poked through the clouds.
The announcer, in a cheery voice, gave us the good news.
The show was back on and we got paid.