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Naval Aviation

03. March 2011

Saturday, February 12 was one of those “Chamber of Commerce” Days in San Diego.  The sun shone brightly across crystal blue skies… not a cloud in sight.  Perfect conditions for the air show to end all air shows in the “birthplace of Naval aviation!”

Tens of thousands of us converged on San Diego Bay and Coronado for the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) to honor the pilots and air personnel from the last 100 years from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Tom and I were among the throngs who caused the population of Coronado to nearly triple for several hours that day.  And that didn’t include the mass of humanity on board the USS Midway… the wall of people lined along both sides of San Diego Bay, and those spectators forced to watch from their cars, stuck in a massive traffic jam on the Coronado Bay Bridge.

My heart swelled with pride as each aircraft in the 189-plane flyover roared overhead.  We viewed the awesome air display from NAS North Island… where Tom was stationed for much of his Navy career.  Tom is a retired Naval aviator.  He was a carrier landing instructor and flew the S-3 Viking throughout his 20-years of service to our country.  (You bet I’m proud!)

From our vantage point near the back gate of North Island, visibility was unlimited as the Blue Angels kicked off the show, shrieking across the sky in breathtakingly perfect formation.  As the show continued, we were dazzled by a continuous flyover of military aircraft history… culminating in a grand finale fly-by from the air wing assigned to the USS Stennis.  We held our breaths as a stunning display of 35 planes, including F-A 18 Hornets, E2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers and the c-2 Greyhound.    As the formation began to break up, it was hard to see through the tears.

As the day wound down, thousands of us lingered to view the static displays of historic aircraft, many specially painted for the occasion.  We also reflected on the amazing bravery of those aviation pioneers, especially those who saw action in aerial combat.

A beautiful day, and a beautiful way to honor our true, American heroes.

If you missed the flyover, don’t worry!  It’s not too late to celebrate San Diego’s aviation “birthday!”  The party continues, thanks to the USS Midway Museum.  For 100 days, you can celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Naval aviation by buying discounted tickets to the museum.  The offer is for “locals” only… so take advantage of this opportunity to get “up close and personal” with some amazing military aviation history.

And while I’m at it…a big “thanks and God bless you” to all those who have served our country, protecting and preserving our precious freedoms!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.