Last Saturday I took a brief diversion from a long business trip to attend the air show at NAF El Centro as the guest of former navy pilot Vance Parker. NAF El Centro is the winter training base for the Blue Angels. Several people from Chico who share the same morning coffee table at Bidwell Perk made the trip. Vance was a gracious host, getting us all passes to the VIP tent.
Vance also managed to put us on the tarmac after the show, second in line behind a 3-star general, for a photo with the pilots and the FA-18 flown by the team commander. In attendance were left to right Dave Raven, Mike Effords, myself, Tim Colbie, Michael Moran, Jim Ledgerwood, (kneeling) Vance Parker and Mark Stapleton, plus Tom Dwyer (not pictured-AWOL).
The show was spectacular, the weather fine, and the beer cold. It was a day of pure heaven. Thanks Vance.
Even with all that, my best memory of the show had to do with a 2 year old little boy. He and his mom were at the VIP tent and dad was off doing duty. There were a couple of older boys who were playing with FA-18 models and the little boy kept trying to join in but he had no toy. His mom didn’t bring anything to keep him occupied and he spent his time trying to fit in with the other boys. So, knowing that feeling, I decided I’d hoof it the 1/4 mile back to the hangars where the concessions were, and pickup a toy airplane, and one for my own son too.
The smile on that little boys face when I gave it to him was far brighter than the Blue Angels at that moment.