April 1st is the day that Florida breathes a collective sigh of relief. With monthly and seasonal rents expiring on March 31, a collective rush of snowbirds head north for the summer. It was amazing to see just how empty Melbourne Beach Mobile Park gets at this time of year. We spent our last week scurrying to finish up last minute projects, along with saying farewell to our friends for a bit.
With the weather warming up, we limited our walks of the park to sunset. We did manage to get some beach time in though, as the Atlantic kept things pleasant on the beach.
Our friends Rod and Mary had us over to their house for a meal of fish and shrimp tacos, which was delicious! We always have fun with them, and we are going to really miss them this summer. They will be returning to Wild Cherry, and will be building a rental cottage near there. These two are always on the go and are a joy to be around. 🙂
In planning for dinner, Rod asked me “Do you want to help set up the air show?” Melbourne International hosts the annual Melbourne Air and Space Show the first weekend in April each year. My thought was that we were going to miss it, with us leaving April 1. Well, air shows just don’t happen on the day of the event; there is plenty of legwork involved ahead of time. Not knowing what I was getting myself into and….if it involved getting close to aircraft…not really worrying about it, I quickly agreed! I followed Rod to the airport, jumped in his truck and was on the tarmac before I knew it! We had a variety of jobs to do that day, but the primary job was to erect snow fence for crowd and debris containment.
We began by putting up about 1/8 mile of fence along a roadway that was adjacent to the taxiway. That’s Rod in the green shirt. He told me to watch for rattlesnakes in the weeds. Lovely.
While we were doing that, we were treated to a practice by the Patrouille Acrobatique de France. This team puts on a decent show, considering their planes are nowhere near the caliber of anything the U.S. military flies, and are nearing 40 years old! The team itself is the world’s oldest acrobatic team, originally forming in 1931.
Notice the plane trailing blue smoke is upside down. He was that way the entire first half of the runway!
Each plane did a quick maneuver and barely missed each other!
After that, we had to wait for one of the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed-Martin WC-130J Hurricane Hunters to show up.
You may have seen one of these planes on the Weather Channel, as they routinely fly them into the eye walls of hurricanes to take wind speed readings. Our job was to put cones under the wings and props, so no one drove any service vehicles into them. What a hoot to be driving a golf cart around this bemouth, while Rod set the cones. He said to me “I’ll bet that baby has seen a lot of turbulence.” I’ll bet it has! My guess is those flights don’t come with meal service. 🤢
Once the Hurricane Hunters were off the taxiway and parked, our next job was to erect about 1/2 mile of interlocking fence along this taxiway and then attach snow fence to it, again to keep debris off the runway. There was about 10 of us to start. We were even instructed to not leave any loose zip ties on the ground, as they can wreak havoc on a jet engine should they be sucked into one. One other thing to notice in this photo…that long black skid mark. Some plane must have had a wheel lock up and they dragged the tire all the way back to the hanger. I’ll bet that tire had a flat spot!
When we got to the end of the taxiway, we were told to fence off the other side of it to keep the crowds out of the drainage ditch. Yep….back the other way for a half mile. I was using a post driver for all these posts and was pretty beat by the end of that run.
About halfway back, we heard a distant roar.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds had arrived! Of course, they just don’t show up and land…
…they treated us to a twenty minute air show! It certainly made all the hard work worth it. Thanks for letting me tag along, Rod!
On Friday, Diana and I packed up the rig, leaving just a few things for our Saturday morning departure. We had to run to town, so I drove her by the airport to show her the Thunderbirds lined up near their hanger. We saw several planes doing acrobatics, and people were parked all around the perimeter fence at the field. Pretty cool.
When we got back, we said our farewells to a few of our neighbors, all the while enjoying this one last sunset over the back of the park. The next morning, April 1, we packed up the rest of our stuff and bid adieu to several more neighbors. A few other rigs were in the process of doing the same thing.
Before long, it was ‘jacks up’ and exploRVistas was rolling! Be sure to stay tuned, as we have a lot of new adventures planned. 😎
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