Friday, May 23, 2008

Midshipmen 'mist' Blue Angels

"Erin Hallford of Texas stays dry from the light rain before the Blue Angels performance at U.S. Naval Academy, Tuesday afternoon. Due to inclement weather, the Blue Angels' annual flyover in Annapolis, which is part of the Naval Academy graduation celebration, was postponed until Wednesday."

This week, the weather in Maryland has been wet. I am not sure what's going on, but when it’s supposed to be clear it rains and vice versa. This didn't change for one of my assignments in Annapolis this past week.

Annapolis is a great town and there isn't anything better than strolling downtown Annapolis near the U.S. Naval Academy on a summer evening.

About 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic south from my house, I often find myself shooting down that way. I don't mind as it gets me out of the realm of Towson and Baltimore. Not to mention, there is always a nice feature to be found in town.

Each time I've been, whether for: baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse or other ceremonies, it's always confusing to some degree.

Since the security on the base is very strict in comparison to say a typical college campus, getting credentialed before hand is a must. This is something the publication takes care of beforehand.

However, most of time, parking on the actual base is forbidden. Thus meaning parking at the football stadium and getting shuttled on or paying to park down by the water and walking.

This time it was different.

I had parking on the base and it seemed like smooth sailing (no pun intended).

However, something always seems to go to ship (no pun intended) when everything else is going easy.

When I left my house around noon it was cloudy, yet clear and dry.

Knowing it could possibly be wet, inclement weather, I was told if it's completely cloudy and nasty that we'd skip the assignment.

After driving through the Harbor Tunnel Thruway, I gave the public relations folk a ring down at the U.S. Naval Academy to see if they had word on whether or not the Angels would be flying.

I didn't hear anything back, so I assumed it was still on.

As I continued toward the base this is how the weather changed in a 25 minute span: Clear. Mist. Clear. Rain. Clear. Cloudy. Slight Rain. Mist. Cloudy.

No joke. I wasn't sure what was going on, but it was odd.

Upon arrival, I got a call from the PR people and they informed me that it was still a fifty-fifty chance they would fly.

From there I was escorted to my parking spot and then to another public relations person on the field where police and those making the final call on the fly over were standing.

As I stood there asking short of a million questions to a couple friendly flyers and Naval officers, I prayed the assignment will still take place, as I've never even seen the Blue Angels on television, nonetheless in person.

A reporter from the Capital Gazette, whom had witnessed the flyovers more than he could remember, told me that during the initial fly over that I would be more shocked and shaken up by the sheer sound that I may no even get a picture. He insured me I'd get a great shot, but not during the first pass.

I am not going to lie; my adrenaline pumped through my veins. I was ready.

Fast forward to more than an hour later. Still no word on if they would fly.

At this point, I knew I needed to still tell the story, so I began to shoot features of people that braved the light rain and had gathered around the field with umbrellas in hand and dressed in ponchos.

Then the unofficial word came. The practice and air show would be postponed until Wednesday. Drat. A morning practice followed by an afternoon air show would happen Wednesday.

I knew this was legitimate when traffic began moving on the Route 450 Bridge, which they shut down before and during the air show, and the masses began to leave in herds.

Sometimes things are out of your control and you have to make the most of situation.

Come to find out, two days later, two of the six jets performed later in the day Tuesday.

Too bad I had a 4 p.m. back in Baltimore and couldn't wait around for it. I would have loved to witness and document the high speed, high flying, high precision daredevil act.


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