Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Air Show as Carnival

Air show = barnstormers and flyovers, vintage planes and experimental craft. Big draw: a chance to finally touch a retired MIG jet, Japanese Zero or WWII American bomber. Or to kick the wheels of a plane or two up for sale. Real meat and potatoes stuff for aviation nuts.

There's another side to an air show: the carnival. It's not the reason for the show, any show, for that matter. But the carnie is ever present in its sleaze and its gawdy magic. For example, the little train below -- what little kid (including my granddaughter, in the pink) isn't going to beg for a ride. Even if she's taken the very same train at similar events up in Flagstaff a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, there are the t-shirts. It seems that every fair, show, seminar, cause, parade, organization, or event is an occasion for relevant t-shirts. The air show was no exception. Here are a couple that I caught on the camera; there were many more.

And just in case you didn't already have a t-shirt for the big day, this booth was prepared. On hand were Ts for every airline (Air America?), plus more generic aero-themed shirts. I'm always a sucker for those I-dare-you black jobs like the one above; it's my inner biker surfacing.
Some of the booth exhibits were actually related to the business of aviation. Granddaughter and son-in-law examine this flyer's outfit.
Even more exciting -- the little one has a shot at dressing for space at the NASA tent.
On the other hand, I wasn't able to figure out just why Prescott rugby was on hand for the show. Or the Sweet Adelines. And there was even a booth promoting the Prescott Master Chorale to a crowd that probably doesn't know the difference between a Bach and a bandbox. I mean, I am very aware of just how well the chorale stacks up internationally but maybe they have to get that message out wherever they can. And there was a crowd at the show!
But at the end of the day, the carnival is packed back into its travelling trunks, boxes and trailers and I'm left with the words to that Peggy Lee song drifting through my head:

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth.

There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears.
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle.
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "is that all there is to a circus?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

PostScript: It turns out an old acquaintance was the producer of the air show. He reminds me that the demographic profile for the show is quite a bit higher than my reporting suggests; makes sense -- a lot of these folk own airplanes. Also that nearly 24,000 people showed up.


Colleen said...

A fellow Prescottonian, well I am actually in PV, but close enough. I love your blog, so interesting!

Granny J said...

Thank you for the kind words, Colleen. I'm having fun -- I hope it shows!

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