This past weekend Genki Husband and I adventured out to the LA Country Air Show in Lancaster, California, USA. This was our first time attending the LA Air Show but not air shows in general. Fun fact, I used to work at an airport while working in high school. So true to my form, I was throughly hooked on aviation taking a few private lessons when not busy and went to as many air shows as possible since then. Air shows are a good way to interest the general public in aviation and to unite people within the industry. A fun event for all types of people, minus an adorable little boy whom cried hearing his first airplane up close and was later taken home because it was just too much to handle. Airplanes are up close and attendees are going to get personal with the airplanes so make sure to bring along a headphone set for those with sensitive hearing. Otherwise it’s a great time out in the sunshine, enjoying what engineering phenomena now called spacecraft.
Short photographer problem – I can never see over the “VIP photographers”, so I end up with great photos of these photographers with privileges. Ah well…
My Experience: First Time Opinion
Not certain if every year is the same, however, this year the air show ran on Saturday and Sunday. We adventured on over to the Saturday showing since Sunday is a bit busy with church functions. With reservations printed out in hand, we drove over to the airport and was led through the desert field of dirt and large potholes to the reserved parking lot location. It just happens reserved parking is the farthest out from the venue, even past the late adventurers who were paying that day. My suggestion, do not bother paying ahead of time, unless you are looking for a long workout walking to the grounds for the show. Additionally, the parking is located off the main road so pedestrians walking for pre-paid parking will be required to walk through the dirt shoulder the entire route, so wear shoes instead of flip-flops.
As most people did not pre-pay for tickets, entering the venue was very easy. There is a canopy setup for some unattended less than teen boys to look through your bags to assure there was no restricted items. I think the two boys that looked through my camera bag were around 10 years old, no adults even near the table. Nothing against these boys but when it comes to my safety, I prefer to have adults going through my things, along with the other people attending the event. Just a bit odd.
Once through the gates, we were tossed into the lions den with a few thousand more people. A table was setup just inside the front entrance with free pamphlets explaining the venues’ entertainers for the weekend. The venue does not plan ahead so no schedule is ever given out, even on the website. So plan ahead and try to stay for the entire event to make certain you do not miss out on anything. (Just another reason to wear flip-flops.) As for the time of the schedule, we still do not know what time the event truly started, even though the main website stated around 11-noon until around 4pm. We came early and still we were shocked to see the planes were already entertaining. So come early!
We found seats near the far left side of the venue, furthest away from the main entrance. This location was the least busiest, seeing as one walk about 5-10 minutes to get to the other side. It is worth the walk, there are less people and a lot of the planes will land right in front of your seats (Bonus!). So if you can handle a few more minutes walking, after the distance it took to get to the entrance from parking, I really do suggest this location than just inside the entrance gates.
Food and drinks were a bit more of a challenge than finding a nice place to sit. There are a lot of “county fair” style booths, serving greasy items that one makes exceptions at these events. As far as vegan options, we did eat before leaving which turned out to be a blessing seeing as we did not find much for vegan or vegetarians. It’s more of a burger, fried chicken type of event than say watermelon on skewers (the fair food of my dreams). Drinks are a bit discouraging seeing as water is not exactly allowed in the rules books. A clear, unopened bottle of water is allowed but not in excess (whatever that means). In my camera bag we did have 1 bottle of water and it was passed through however we did see others bringing 5 gallon jugs too. Additionally we saw a ton of outside food coming into the event, so I guess the rules are not as strict seeing as kids are checking bags. There are no water bottle filling stations so if you want to follow the rules, $6 bottle of waters are on the menu. We ended up getting a lemonade for around $6 instead since it was very warm and no shade to cool off from the California sunshine.
On to the event, it is located in the desert right along the runway so it is hot, very hot when the sun is beating down right in the middle of the day. Suntan lotion is a necessity, bring it along for everyone to share because it is going to save your life. We put some on before leaving but had wished we brought it along for the trip. A hat is also a wonderful idea, no matter what your hair will look like at the end of the day, your eyes will thank you. Umbrellas are said to not be allowed however probably around 20% of the people brought their own and then the kiosks were selling them to another 60% of the people. If we were going again, we would take our own because it is a lifesaver and seeing as just about everyone else takes one along (or buys them), might as well not feel bad about blocking someones’ view.
The event itself was a nice air show, average but a good few hours of entertainment. Lancaster area is filled with many aviation industry leaders, so listening to the crowd of people was interesting as many were telling stories of the planes flying. Although I should feel more ashamed, I delighted in listening to the stories of the heroes and engineers sitting around me more than the air show. Maybe I can suggest that as an event next year… The air show had a good mixture of older airplanes and skydivers to entertain all types. It was nothing extraordinary though, if you have been to a small town air show, this is generally the same schedule of events. Both Genki Husband and I both were able to predict when the fake ammunition were to go off to delight the crowd. Again though, we have been to a lot of air shows so if this is not in your background, I would say you will enjoy every second of it on the edge of your seat.
Would we go back next year? It really depends on our schedule but we might if we have free time. We would make sure to take an umbrella for our chairs, suntan lotion and sun-protecting chapstick, tons of water, vegan snacks and good walking shoes. Taking along these items will definitely make the event more enjoyable and safer for everyone.