The days of rain subsided in the early morning for the Barksdale Air Show in Shreveport, Louisiana. We took on the humidity to attend the free show of parachuters, stunt flyers, static displays, and Thunderbirds. The one thing we regretted was wearing such dark colors as the only shade available was under the wings of airplanes.
Chosen for a random inspection we drove into a parking lot. As we inched up in line it became clear that every nook and cranny was to be explored. I could feel my cheeks redden. The van was also known as “the garage” and as we all know garages gather stuff.
Jon popped the hood and opened the trunk. Layers of items shown for all of their glory to the line behind. Soon the cooler full of beach towels was tousled, the tote housing winter clothing and hiking backpacks, inspected. The vacuum shouting, “why I am I in a trunk” perched on the tar next to a dozen rolls of toilet paper and reusable grocery bags. And doesn’t everyone tuck an outdoor lawn rug in their backseat along with awning shades? The woman began pulling out the garage and soon called for backup from two other soldiers to uncover our treasure chest.
I felt the need to apologize a couple of times. “I am so sorry. Had we known, we would have left this stuff at home.” And, “we are travelers so this is our garage. I am so sorry.”
“No problem,” they replied as they walked away with our mini scissors.
The base was filled with people and aircraft from the CV-22 Osprey to the Stealth Bomber. As I stood in awe beneath giant creations, stunt flyers were overhead flying loop-dee-loops. Watching pilots fly upside down, straight up until they stalled out, and flip around in the sky made it hard to look anywhere else. The Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, The SkyHawks, commanded attention as they trailed flags and smoke against the sky to land with a firm stance upon the ground.
The largest aircraft in sight, the C-17 GlobeMaster III, beckoned us to stand in line for an hour and a half as we watched the air show continue above. The two pilots we spoke to joined the Air Force to fly this particular plane. One joked about how he talked so much about how amazing it was in school that other pilots switched their preference of plane choice to the C-17 GlobeMaster III.
“That was a huge mistake on my part. I almost lost my dream because someone who had first picks could have taken my slot. I should’ve been telling everyone what a lousy plane it was to throw them off!” he said. We laughed. Later we found out a good friend Jon graduated with had been the crew chief for the C-17 for fifteen years and also had such admiration for the plane. This made our tour even more special.
We stayed until the closing performance of the Thunderbirds. Their skill and speed impressive. Watching them pierce the air made my heart beat faster. I wanted to be free like them and feel the speed. The thrill of the show was also being surprised as the jet sound alerted us to look in the sky again.
What a gift this free airshow is to the Shreveport community and to those who travel to see it.