Before the Blue Angels – Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

“The sky is the limit only for those who aren’t afraid to fly!”

Bob Bello



Over the 4th of July holiday, my husband and I were guests of good friends in Traverse City Michigan. On Saturday we were treated to something that was a first for me – an airshow. Now I must admit, if you’d asked me to list the top 10 things on my “must see” list, an airshow would not have made the cut 🙂 Having seen one though, I am happy to report that the event was terrific. Shown above, a relic from the past, a biplane, which thrilled the crowd with loops, curls, dives and upside down flying that made us wonder how the pilot stayed conscious.



“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward”

Leonardo da Vinci

Somewhat more contemporary but still in the relic category, three early vintage planes added color and interest to the day with their precision flying and seeming ability to float on the clouds. While they and the biplane were fun and entertaining, the biggest surprise for me was the incredible flying of the famous Blue Angels.



“The secret of flight is this — you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws.”

Michael Cunningham

We waited anxiously for their appearance, searching the sky for a sign that they were near. As it turned out, we need not have worried, as their arrival was announced by the incredible roar of their engines.  The speed at which they can fly (up to 1400 mph, climbing 30,000 feet per minute) is stunning, and the tricks they do are incredible. In the maneuver shown below (admittedly not the best photograph, but you get the idea!) two pilots approach each other from opposite directions and as they meet in mid-air both do a flip-over so that they are flying back-to-back before their high-speed separation.



 “Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”

Amelia Earhart

There were quite a few times when the pilots, flying amazingly close to each other (as close as 18 inches apart in their most famous diamond formation) were flying upside down or sideways. The photo below shows one plane upside down next to another right-side-up. I got dizzy just watching!

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy

 “Flying is like throwing your soul into the heavens and racing to catch it as it falls.”

Linda Howard

The jets fly as high as 15,000 feet and as low as 50.  Our show took place over Lake Michigan and it felt like the planes might have singed the hair on some of the boaters over whom them passed at their lowest points!  I found it most interesting that the pilots do not wear special gear, rather they control G-forces by using muscle contractions.




“Keep thy airspeed up, less the earth come from below and smite thee.”

William Kerchner

So take my advice and if you ever have an opportunity to attend an airshow, do it 🙂 It may be the most amazing combination of artistry, daring, power and thrill as you’re ever likely to see.

To see some of the relics others chose to highlight, click here.

88 thoughts on “Before the Blue Angels – Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

  1. Beautiful capture, Tina 🙂

    It’s great to capture these mighty metal birds in action, right?

    “Aero India” is an event in Bangalore, where I used to go and watch them in action.

  2. Wonderful post…”I feel the need, the need for speed” (from Top Gun). There is something about jets/the Blue Angels that gets the blood flowing for just about everyone. The 4th photo is a perfect example of why that is the case. I’ve seen them a few times, and it is always an incredible sight. Great commentary & info on the day ~ very cool.

  3. Looks like you had lots of fun. A couple of years ago I attended an air show and came away thoroughly enjoying myself and now will think about going again but like you it was never on the top of my list of things to do. They certainly are lots of fun to photograph. Just love all of your shots!

  4. Struggling to even pretend to keep up while we’re vacationing in France, Tina, but wonderful choice of relics. I’ll stick with KLM’s jumbo jet for the trip home, however!


  5. What an impressive and breath taking (for me!) event to see! I would have had my neck stiff, yet my heart jumping up and down in excitement 🙂
    Amazing photos, Tina, and…yes…I definitely agree with Mr.Da Vinci!

  6. Wonderful shots! It’s been years since I saw the Blue Angels. What a treat for you! What was mot interesting for me was that the pilots do not have special equipment! I can not imagine the muscle control, and the daring, of these pilots!
    And I just have to tell you, that as I’m catching up on blogs, I have the TV on to the Food Network. I kid you not, as I opened your blog post, a commercial for Michigan that mentioned Traverse City came on 🙂

  7. Amazing shots of the yesteryear aircraft. Your quotes are wonderful, they always add to the visuals. Imagine Leonardo da Vinci’s reaction to today’s craft! Linda Howard’s words fit the scene beautifully.

  8. It’s always wonderful to experience something new, isn’t it Tina. Great shots! I saw The Blue Angels when I was a little girl. I lived near the air base where they were going to be appearing and we didn’t even have to leave the house to see them. My father was very excited about it at the time and he got me excited. Breathtaking…

  9. Amazing! And it’s actually an Air show that made a shutterbug out of me. I think. During an exchange in Germany, my hosting family took me to an Air show on Lake Constance. I may have had to buy several rolls of films for my little point and shoot camera 🙂

  10. Thought you might like to know that the second formation is of the iconic Mustang P-51. This plane was responsible for giving the Allies complete control of the air over Germany in ww2 leading to the surrender of the Germans.

  11. Great photos, as usual! I have attempted to photograph air show performers before, and have yet to come up with anything “publishable”.
    The Blue Angels are often featured performers in the biennial Fargo Airsho. (That’s not a spelling error, that’s marketing. :-)) Anyway, they are performers not to miss. You are about seven hours drive from the greatest air show in the world (in my opinion), and it’s coming at the end of the month. Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s AirVenture features a weeklong tribute to aviation with daily air shows and airplanes aplenty on display. During that week, OSH is the busiest airport in the world.

  12. My parents lived in Pensacola for years; the Blue Angels’ home is at the Naval base there. We’d go out to watch them practice (and avoid the air show crowds). So exciting! Then, years later, my first husband and I were stationed at Ft Dix, NJ — right next to McGuire AFB. Lots of air show excitement there! Your images recapture the sounds and feelings perfectly!

    • Thanks Nora – quite a challenge to catch them as they move SO fast. After a while I figured out how to anticipate their arrival in the best areas of light–no small task!

  13. Oh yes watching a air-show is indeed a thrilling experience. My own colleagues from the Air-force though fighter pilots are fantastic at air displays 🙂
    Many thanks Tina for sharing your experience with the photos and the beautiful quotes.

  14. What precision timing YOU had Tina with such outstanding pictures of dare devil manouveurs ..
    The split second decisions and accuracy by the pilots is jaw dropping ! Nothing like the heart banging feeling as they roar overhead.
    You made me smile with your original thought re an Airshow visit … it’s still is on my wish list . I was rather envious to say the least when my husband attended the Farnborough Airshow here in UK a couple of times . Work ? huh I don’t think so 😉
    Mind you I still have one over him with my tandem parachute jump .. 12500ft from a Lynx helicopter and pictures to prove it 😀

    • Hi Clarlie – sorry it took a while to get back to you; for some reason your comment went to spam 😦 Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Did you ever get to fly in your grandfather’s plane??? How very fun!

  15. Great photos and story, Tina. A friend’s husband used to participate in stunt flying – he went to Oshgosh several times – even flying a plane he designed and built. I’m pretty gutsy but I never wanted to go for a ride with him.

  16. Thank you for sharing the impression of this event Tina. You shot great pictures, especially the Yikes looks spectacular, like a mid air collision. You captured the moment in this high speed so well.

  17. Hi T,
    Stunning!! Yikes ! Says it all.
    What a fun shared day.
    That big , heavy camera was worth the lugging !
    You have great talent behind those lens–
    Only superseded by the talent of those young pilots!

  18. Awesome! I love your photographs and descriptions of the feats of the “relics.” I have never been to an air show before but will surely do so now, if ever the opportunity should arise. 🙂

  19. Thank you for reminding us of brilliance of this sight….. Precision extraordinaire …… Always appalled at your eye.,,,so glad I was sitting there to see it through your eyes. Thanks T. .

  20. Tina-
    EXCELLENT photos of all the airshow excitement! I suspect many of the performances you watched will be in my hometown September 19th-21st for the Oregon International Air Show. The Blue Angels won’t be in the program this year. The Canadian Snowbirds are scheduled… and are also breath-taking to watch.

    Thanks for the awesome annotations as well.

  21. Aren’t the Blues amazing! They flew in my town yesterday! They close out their season with us, also. Traffic is paralyzed for the Blue Angels so we find a safer, lest congested venue. They are amazing. Glad you enjoyed, TIna.

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