Early fall brings a few things to San Diego. One of these is usually a heat wave. You’d think early October in San Diego would be a time for cooling temperatures after the beach crowds have left, but that never seems to be the case. I’ve moved into new dorms/rooms/condos in San Diego around this time of year 4 times since I’ve been here. All but one of these were accessed by stairs, so suffice to say I’ve grown to despise this early fall heat wave. Despite the blistering temperatures, myself and what seems like 3/4ths of San Diego brave the temperatures to stand on the blistering tarmac at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and catch their yearly October air show – the largest military air show in the U.S. After a hiatus due to the government shutdown last year, we ventured back to the air show with Kendall’s family last month.
The air show changes a bit each year, but is always centered around the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, a group of 6 F-18 pilots that fly elaborate maneuvers while flying their aircraft as close as 18 inches from one another. While they certainly are the highlight, there isn’t a shortage of skill among the other performers. The Oracle stunt plane performed rolling dives so tight that your head could go light just watching them. Also on display was the brand new F-35 Lightning II, which demonstrated its impressive vertical takeoff and landing capability. It’s very surreal to see a plane slow to a halt in mid-air, and slowly turn to face you.
Between the air performances, aviation buffs can keep themselves entertained on the ground with a large number of static displays. You’re able to walk through some of them, like the V-22 Osprey. We found a radio simulation tent where preteens barked orders at their imaginary troops – I listened in on the headset while we enjoyed the air conditioning. If you’ve got a lot of stamina, you can stay for the night show which I’ve been to in the past, which includes a top-notch firework display as well as a “wall of fire”. This is just what it sounds like – a row of explosions that despite being across the runway will warm your skin just like opening an oven door. As if you haven’t had enough heat during the day!
Despite the heat, September and October are great times of year to come to San Diego if you’re looking to miss some of the crowds and still enjoy beach-worthy weather late in the year. But when it’s time to cap your trip off, a visit to the Miramar air show will make you more than ready for a winter snow, while leaving you with memories of booming engines and machines that fly with the grace of birds.