Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Planes and Hydroplanes: Today was a very laid-back day, a couch potato day. Today were the Seafair Races, the running of the unlimited hydroplanes on Lake Washington. It’s a day when 100,000 people line the shores of the lake and hundreds more moor their boats along the logboom to watch the thunderboats hit speeds of up to 140 mph. Seattle has a long history of unlimited hydro racing. It goes back to when the boats were powered with aircraft engine like Rolls Royce and Merlin. And Bill Muncey and the Slo-Mo were the kings of the water. And the race was known as the Gold Cup. And the year was probably 1950-something. Now the boats are turbine-powered and quite a bit faster.

Today they had Heats 2A and 2B and the final heat for the unlimiteds. Preliminary heats were run on Saturday. They also had the unlimited hydros, powered by automotive engines. Only slightly smaller than the unlimiteds, but no turbine engines, they gave every bit as exciting racing as the big boys. Between races we were treated to the Blue Angels in their Navy fighter jets doing close order flying. Lots of maneuvers. Lots of noise. Today the skies were clear and that allowed the Navy fliers to do their high show. The Red Barons sponsored by Red Baron Pizza flew their Steadman bi-planes, originally built in 1943. Many pilots in World War II learned to fly in these Steadmans. With two wings and open cockpits they were every bit as close in their flying as the Navy pilots, maybe even closer. But they were not flying at 350 mph, more like 80 mph. Fun to watch them roll and loop and turn. Then there was Fat Albert, the Blue Angels’ C130, a pretty maneuverable cargo plane in the right hands. There was a stunt pilot who did incredible things with his plane, sponsored by Oracle. And finally Navy parachutists with flares alight, doing marvelous things en route to the ground. All this action in between the heats, keeping the crowd well entertained.

All of this I watched from my seat in front of the televison. No sunburn. No crowds when the event was over. No being caught in traffic jams. Excellent pictures of both the boat races and air show from the announcers and commentators for the various air show teams. I saw much more than the people who attended the event in person. Sometimes it’s good just to chill at home.


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