We went to see the Blue Angels Friday. They haven’t been in the Valley since 2001. We’ve seen the Thunderbirds twice out at Luke AFB since we’ve been here, but the Blue Angels always feel a little bit like home. In Orange County we lived near the now-shuttered El Toro MCAS and the Blue Angels would come to the air show there every year. For three days we could stand on our back patio and watch the whole show.

I haven’t seen the Blue Angels in nearly ten years, but earlier this year on the Military Channel, they did a documentary on them, following them through their training and show circuit. What always amazes me is the small or nonexistent margin for error. You space out for a second or have an off day and you can take yourself and your fellow pilots into eternity in an instant. Not exactly like writing where you get multiple chances to get it right.

The great thing about this air show was that it was a smaller, private airfield. We went on Friday, the practice day, so it wasn’t crowded at all, and we were close to the centerline on the airfield. Which meant that, at points, they were only 50 feet above our heads.

When I watch them, for just a minute, I forget there’s such a thing as gravity.

The other cool thing was the after-dark show. A plane danced across the sky with pyrotechnics coming off the wings and shooting flares. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then the hot air balloons lined up on the flight line, and began inflating. It was cool to see that happen, these giant balloons swaying in the evening breeze like giant Japanese lanterns.