this weekend is the wings over marietta air show at dobbins ARB in marietta, ga. this happens to be about 10 mintues from my house, so of course i went today! my dad came over early this morning and we packed ricky up (with hearing protection!) to go watch all the aerobatics, fighter demos, c-130 hercules demos, and the USAF thunderbirds.

i haven’t even downloaded the pictures and video yet, but i needed to post a couple of things. look for more posts with pics and video.

first – the thunderbirds are good but the blue angels are better. no question about it.

second – the USAF f-22 raptor demonstration team is UNBELIEVABLE. if you get a chance to see them then DO IT. it was surreal. it felt like i was watching someone play a video game. that plane can do things that seem to defy physics, and it definitely defies any sort of common sense. it was the highlight of the show.

third – proper hearing protection changes everything. ricky had a blast, and without his muffs we wouldn’t have lasted 2 hours. i saw tons of young children and even babies with no hearing protection while the sound of freedom was blasting loud and clear. i felt bad for them and i wanted to say something rude to mommy and daddy.

last, but definitely not least.

our day was awesome until we tried to leave. the air force put on a killer show and left a great impression.

we parked at the lockheed martin plant lot on the other side of the base from the air force flight line. we had to ride a bus (for 3 bucks) to get to the show. not a problem, right? think again.

getting there this morning was tough but not too bad. there were thousands of people in line and the organizers only had 2 people checking bags and wanding us with metal detectors. all in all it was moving fairly quickly. i was surprised at the waste of time, however, when they did the same thing at the show gate. oh well.

the thunderbirds went on at 3pm, and we were tired. the line to get on a bus was lengthening, so we went ahead and queued up. we still had a good vantage point for the thunderbirds show, so we figured we’d beat the crowd without missing anything. we were pretty close to the front of the line with, maybe, 4 buses of people in front of us.

there were 3 lines. none of them were marked very well. there was no one watching us. there was no one telling the crowd where to go. there were tons of buses, all going to different locations, stacked up on the road. there was no organization and nobody had ANY CLUE what was going on, except that things were about to get bad.

people got mixed up and the air force men charged with wrangling the crowd had no clue what to do about it. they started yelling at us, and one guy got really hot. it was amusing for the first few minutes but it got old once we realized that we were going nowhere. every bus was headed to somewhere else besides the lockheed martin parking lot.

finally a colonel showed up and there was hope. well, he was just as clueless as everyone else. people started shouting at him and pushing. i was a little worried since i had ricky in my arms, but when the guy continued to do nothing i did the typical male thing and joined in the fun! i yelled stuff like “where are the marines? they know how to lead people!” and “this is our government in action, people! wait til you see what they do to healthcare!”. one obviously overweight, out of shape airman was extra angry with us. i won’t mention anything that was yelled in his direction. rest assured that it was pretty funny stuff!

needless to say, the colonel was flustered. finally a major showed up and made something happen. we ended up on a bus 3 hours later, which is incredibly, unbelievably ridiculous.

to top everything off, the bus we got on was given bum directions by yet another air force genius. fantastic. tack 20 minutes onto our transit time that should have taken only 5.

there are a few principles and ideas at play here.

  • no plan = no execution. these jokers had zero plan. i thought the USAF were masters of logistics? guess not.
  • poor leadership = obvious results. the colonel in charge exhibited none of the leadership skills typical of a military officer. he was confused, he SHOWED that he was confused, and he had no idea where his men were. furthermore, he got visibly angry with the people he was charged with handling.
  • mob mentality is a reality. the people around us were mad. all of them. dainty old ladies were shaking their fists. some folks were cursing and saying some pretty incendiary things. it could’ve gotten out of control and the officers/enlisted men weren’t doing a darn thing to help the situation!
  • just because you have rank doesn’t mean you have brains. that major that showed up exhibited more leadership ability in 5min than the colonel did in 3 hours.
  • plan everything – even the small, seemingly inconsequential details.

so all in all we had a great day but left with a very, very bad taste in our mouths in regards to the USAF. to add insult to injury, i had to pay 3 bucks to ride that stinkin bus.

i want my money back!!