To brush up for the Wright-Patt AFB Airshow in Dayton next moth, yesterday I drove to the Denton Airport to shoot a small airshow.
It was near 100, but as I always say down here... "don't matter, it's the damned humidity". Texans don't understand this, having lived in a moss and mold producing environment their entire lives. They think potato chips going soft in two hours and 11 minutes is normal... just buy some more.
Hell, living in the semi-arid desert of Colorado most of my life... many times I've actually eaten foodstuffs left behind by the Donor Party as they trekked through on that ill-advised trip to California some years back.
Anyway, it was hot and I put three bottles of water in my shorts' cargo pockets, loaded my gear and began walking around.
I must say here that jets have little fascination for me... it is doesn't have a prop what good is it really? Most have no style, so most are butt-ugly.
The day started well... as so often happens, my first shot of the day was my best.........................
.... it was the venerable DC-3 which really began civilian air travel in the U.S after indispensable service in WWII.
I was annoyed however when the announcer reported that the "DC 3 was the key aircraft in WWII's China-Burma-India theater.
It was a C47 damnit!
I wandered through the static display and there were several great air frames, but there's something about air shows that annoys me to hell; they let people come and I seldom get any decent on-ground shots.
"Here's a nice Corsair with a baby stroller and a guy in plaid shorts."
Not something I show people.
Nonetheless it's a small crowd and passing by a group of F-18 demonstration pilots I'm reminded of how great it must be to be to have that job, and those wives or girlfriends that go with them.... "right into the danger zone....'
I'm not saying that some women are shallow and will date/marry any man in the world if he is rich, has exotic employment or is a pro ball player or actor............
This venerable P-40 was outfitted in the livery of the American Volunteer Group who didn't wait for Pearl Harbor, the young men left the US and started killing Japs while FDR fiddled around.
Love those guys... love the P-40.
And then the highpoint of the air show... it was one of those encounters that happen to me (thankfully) with some frequency.
I was looking down making adjustments to my cameras and she came into view just to my left.
The first thing I noticed was the "zipper". The zipper is a hard-earned badge for those who have had heart surgery... or had their "chest cracked" in the parlance of the operating theater.
It peeked out just above her tiny, white tank top, surgical tape still covering the incision and stitches.
I fought the lump in my throat.
I turned to a woman next to me.
"Oh, she's not mine... mine are over there."
I moved on to the next nearest person... and repeated the question.
"Oh, she's doing fine, thanks... just out of the hospital."
With that the Beautiful Girl lifted her tank top to reveal, as warriors will, the scars of battle; with her left hand she pointed out a small scar to the left of the sternum midline.
"That's her drain tube scar," said her Dad. "She thinks it's the most interesting."
I would learn that she'd been under the knife three times, and the last surgery was to repair "all the plumbing around her heart". But just two weeks later, she's at an airshow with her Dad.
I didn't ask any more question. I didn't want to contemplate any possible negative outcome for this angel in 10--20--30 years. I hope she lives to be 100.
I gave Dad a card and ask him to send me an e-mail so I could send photos....
It's no doubt creepy for civilians to have a hulking guy with cameras and business cards accost them only to begin blubbering, so I touched her lightly on the head and shake hands with Dad... I can't say what I want to... about what a good Dad he is.
I shot several planes aloft already knowing that I wouldn't be happy with my work. I've order a bigger telephoto for my Nikons and I'm forced to use my back-up Olympus.
An hour of so later I realized that I was walking around sort of aimlessly amid the vendor tents and not feeling well.
My Basic Brain reported... "heat stroke, dumbass".
Very familiar... Vietnam, and again a couple of years later when I jumped in my car at Fresno State and headed home three miles distant--in August.
Despite the A/C, when I got to the apartment I literally fell out of the car and staggered toward a cold water-filled bath tub.
Although I'd prepared for the heat in my clothing, headgear and fluids, I'd let the heat get out in front of me and perhaps lost my situational awareness. (Piss off Don, it could happen to anybody).
I immediately sought shade and drank the rest of my water--I had consumed two and a half of my three water bottles... and yet.
Yep, the knees were going and the vision was getting increasingly "tunneled" as we in the Dr. House Academy of Sarcastic Medicine call it.
I made it to a vendor's shade.
This is what I remember to the best of my sun-dried memory.
"Kind sir, I'd like to have a bit of your shade and could you call the paramedics for me?"
That seemed to be cool enough; more importantly he jumped to it. Good man.
He grabbed some of the young AF Junior ROTC kids who a alerted an Air Force/National Guard medic who took my pulse and reported "60 and thready."
I liked that.... not as good as "60 cc's of Epi, stat!!!", but it'll do.
Soon Denton Fire's great EMTs arrived and by then I couldn't get my head up having already off-loaded all the water in my stomach (I should eat breakfast more often, Don says it's the most important meal of the day).
It was like they were talking to me from then end of a tunnel... and their questions were more of a suggestion... get up on the gurney? No, I'll just sit here in Mr. Vendor's shade
They lift, I sag.
I say good-bye and thanks to Vendor, ROT-C and Air Force.
I was able to come up with my best line at this point; as they began wheeling the chair-gurney toward the fire EMT truck, I said: "Say, isn't this when the crowd breaks out in spontaneous applause."
That even got a chuckle from the firemen who are a damned tough audience... especially since my condition was about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Anyone who thinks the AC in a fire truck is lacking... take it from me... not even.
Over the next hour and a half, they hooked me up to the usual instruments... I began to rally on the second liter of fluid running into a forearm vein, we joked and and I babbled weakly. From the radio traffic it was clear that others were dropping like flies outside... made be feel a little less whimpish.
These EMTs are pros; I'm relaxed; it's like a flight nurse I dated once told me... "if you ever have a choice of being treated by a flight nurse and EMTS or a physician driving past the accident... go with the nurse."
Like I'm an idiot... we spent a great two years together but I never got to fly in the chopper.
Anyway, good luck Beautiful, and thanks, Denton Fire Department.