Saturday, April 25, 2009

Frugal Family Fun at the Air Show

I'm a sucker for air shows. I grew up an Air Force brat since my dad was in the military. My parents divorced when I was young, but one of my favorite memories is my parents taking me to the air shows when we lived at Colorado Springs and at Eglin A.F.B. in Florida.

Here's some throwback pics of me--a little tike in Colorado Springs, discussing "important business", and with my little brother Jon and my Aunt Dawn at the air show at Eglin.
After my parents' divorced, things just weren't the same. The air shows were fewer and farther between. But then I got married, and hubs and I moved to a military town. He, too, was an Air Force brat.
And since the kids were born, I have been able to convince him to take us to the air show. There's nothing like the noise of a jet with its after burners on, streaking past you with lightning speed. I should know, the F-15's fly over my house nearly every day!
As soon as I found out the date for this year's air show, I decided that I was definitely going and taking the kids with me. I knew they would enjoy seeing some "big jets" and I wanted them to experiene the same awe and excitement that I remember having, and still have even now. My husband is in the process of remodeling our dining room, and eager to get some work done, so he chose to stay behind. But that just meant more one-on-two time for me with the children.
Here are the kids behind a C-5, a very, very large plane designed for transport. These planes like to fly over our house at 2 am! In fact, there was one night that they flew overhead and I mistook the sound for a tornado instead--it was very windy and rainy outside, and I am absolutely TERRIFIED of the mere thought of a tornado, so it was a justifiable mistake.

My son was thrilled to sing on the wing of this plane. He insisted that he wanted to sit on the "other" wing (a.k.a. the tail), but I managed to restrain him. :)

The Navy's Blue Angels flew today. Last time they were here, my daughter slept through the entire show, quite a feat considering she was only 6 months old and we were right on the edge of the runway! She had earplugs, but it was still really loud. Well, she did it again this time. Fell asleep sitting in her stroller, with earplugs on, only difference is she is now 2 1/2 years old. Oh well, she's a good sleeper, I guess! I should have taken a picture.

The Blue Angels.
Going to an air show can be an inexpensive way to spend time with your family and do something that you don't get to do every day. Keep in mind some basic tips to keep the activity cheap:
  1. Although you can't take a cooler onto the flight line, you can take some drinks and snacks. We packed a few bottles of water and some granola bars. I bought hot dogs for lunch and another bottle of water, but that's where I drew the line.
  2. Souvenirs are nice but can quickly become expensive. We foregoed the souvenirs--we didn't even stop and look--and took lots of pictures instead.
  3. Remember sunscreen. It was over 90 degrees today, but it had to have been 100 on the flight line. There wasn't a cloud in site. But even on a cloudy or cool day, the sun's rays will still do their damage. Take a bottle of sunscreen with you and apply to face, arms, and legs every hour. If you do get sunburned, apply liberal amounts of aloe vera to the affected area.
  4. Take a blanket, umbrella, and lawn chairs. We took two small toddler blankets, and that worked out great for break times. We ate our lunch on the blankets on one of the lawns, and we sat on the blankets under a tree when it was time to watch the Blue Angels. But one thing I almost grabbed, but didn't, and regret, is a couple of umbrellas and lawn chairs. I knew my kids weren't going to hold those, but after seeing what other families had done, I could have easily hung the umbrella straps on the stroller handles, and the lawn chairs as well. Well, you live/you learn.
  5. Comfortable shoes. You will do a lot of walking. A lot of walking.
  6. Ear plugs are an absolute MUST. Once the jets start flying, watch out! Those after burners are a killer on the ears. I was able to get a few disposable pairs of plugs from work, and I explained to the kids in advance of leaving the house that we were going to wear ear plus once the big jets started flying. They were completely happy and content wearing the earplugs. I selected plugs that were made of foam, so they were easy to insert in their ears and comfortable to wear. Plus, they reduced the noise by 33 decibels.
Lessons Learned:
Even adults require sunscreen! I look like a lobster with a farmer's tan. Bring on the aloe vera, which, I might add, is my very best friend right now. Like I said, you live/you learn. :)

How about you? What's your favorite frugal family fun?


  1. Our favorite frugal family fun are outdoor concerts in the summer. Unfortunately, we don't go to as many as I would like. There is always this summer.
    It sounds like you had a nice day.

  2. Outdoor concerts are a great idea! The Downtown District has a great summer series and concerts are every other Thursday. I haven't ever gone, but I've heard a lot of great things. Maybe I can convince hubs this year. :) Thanks for the tip!


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