As I get older I tend to reflect on my early life a lot. I just turned 40 and it feels almost as though as I hit that age I have been taking a look back at a lot of the things that I enjoyed as a kid. I feel as though I was lucky growing up in the times that I did. There were so many events that I remember going to that don’t exist anymore. While a lot of the places and things that I like aren’t around anymore there is one event that seems to be going strong. I can’t remember the first time that I had been to the Miramar Air Show but I do remember my dad waking me up early on a Saturday. As a kid sleep is one of those things that you can never get enough of, and it feels as though my parents always wanted to interrupt that beauty sleep of mine. Especially on non-school days! But, man oh man, as much as I hated waking up at 6 (ah, the days when I could complain that waking up at 6am was “TOO EARLY”) I couldn’t have been more excited for the reason I was getting up early that day. Going to any air show was exciting for me, and the opportunity to hit up the world-famous Fightertown was enough of a reason to hit the road as the sun was coming up. But, as I readied myself to head back to the show that gave me butterflies as a kid I had to ask myself yet again, is it as awesome as I remember?
Yeah… I mean, I could end it right here to be honest. All these years later the show is still as awesome as it ever was. While some things have changed quite a bit (yeah, back in the day the restrictions for flying were far more lax. I can remember that low level fly-bys were a common thing. Good times!) and many of the planes are brand new, the excitement is still there. And, let’s be honest, and the time of this show the Navy and the military was riding high on the awesomeness that was Top Gun. Top Gun (Maverick) is a movie that I like to call a live-action Ace Combat. But, the movie, as awesome as it is (and it definitely is), I feel doesn’t show just how incredible these aircraft are in-person. Until you hear the afterburners of an F-18 kick in, or see a vapor cone form as an aircraft speeds up close it is really hard to appreciate.
So, when my dad took me to Miramar as a kid I couldn’t even begin to tell you how hooked I was. This show and El Toro (oh, how I miss those days) were the air shows that changed me and changed the direction that I would go in life. It was seeing those heroic men and women doing what they do best that would shape my view of the military. Now, years later having done over 10 years of service and working and seeing all kinds of aircraft you would think that I would be bored of it, but I feel just as excited as I was almost 40 years ago.
These images are from this last event. This was one of the biggest, if not the biggest show that I had seen since the end of the covid days and the quality of the show definitely proved that. It was awesome seeing nearly every plane in our inventory either on the runway (of Miramar) or up in the air. I was also very fortunate because I got to see one of my fellow crew chief buddies who is still in my old unit. He was lead crew chief on the KC-135 that had flown in from March ARB. Seeing him and that tail flash sure brought back a whole host of memories. It feels as though it has been a lot of that at this show. A huge mix of the familiar and new all thrown together in a wonderful package.
It may be even harder to wake up early as an adult (at least for me since I appreciate weekends more than I ever did as a kid) the thrill of getting to see some of the most incredible engineered machines that the world has ever seen is more than enough motivation to go. If you have never been to Miramar I can’t help but recommend it. I think this show has something for everyone and I will definitely be making it back. I sure hope to see you all there. Until then please enjoy some of the sights that we came across at the show down below.
Words and photos by Daniel Navarrete
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.
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