Monday, September 8, 2008

Who says nothing good in life is free? The Great New England Air Show

This year marked the return of The Great New England Air Show to Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee, MA after a 4-year hiatus. According to news coverage, past air shows at Westover have had nearly 1/2 million visitors over the 2 days they run, probably thanks in large part to the fact that the show is completely free. That’s right, free. No admission fee. No parking fee.

I was all for an afternoon adventure that wouldn't put a big dent in our wallets. (Mr. valleywriter—that’s the hubby—says I’m cheap, but I prefer the term “frugal.") I had considered checking out the Connecticut River Valley Brew Fest, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to drink nearly enough beer to make the $25 per ticket price tag a decent deal. (Yeah, I'm a light weight when it comes to alcohol.) So off to Chicopee we headed on Sunday morning to check out the air show.

As we approached the Westover base, traffic quickly backed up and we waited in a very long line for quite some time. It took us about 35 minutes to drive 1.5 miles. (Note to self: Next time do not drink a 20 oz. bottle of water before heading out to the air show...) But once we made it to the gate, parking was easy and it was only about a 10-minute walk to the show itself. They had shuttle buses from the parking area to the show, but I made Mr. valleywriter huff it with me.

We arrived a little before 1pm and over the next 2 hours, we were treated to demonstrations by a Super Hornet jet (really fast, really loud):

a WWII-era War Bird doing stunts like rolls, figure-8s and loops (very cool):

and the Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour as they drop from the sky (they've got to be nuts!):

In addition to the aerial shows, many different types of aircraft were on display on the ground. We were even able to walk through some of them, like this behemoth:

(I don't know what that plane is called. Mr. valleywriter says "It's not the Hercules, but the bigger one." Yeah - that helped. Anyway - if you know what it is - please leave a comment!)

Gorgeous blue, sunny skies, a warm breeze and plenty of entertainment made for a fun afternoon. The Great New England Air Show proves that some good things in life truly are free!

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