The best day of the Military year is the Base Open House, or Commander’s Day as it was sometimes called. he best day of the Military year is the Base Open House, or Commander’s Day as it was sometimes called. This was the event when all of the aircraft from all over would fly in for display.
It was a long, exhausting day and it was always held without fail, on the hottest day of the whole year. There would be food and souvenirs for sale and as a child, you would climb into as many planes as they would allow you to.
You would stand in amazement inside the belly of the C-5 and take a moment to finally understand why your house shook when it flew over. You’d have Top Gun dreams as you inspected the fighters, and always inspect the coolness of a helicopter (most Air Force kids aren’t that familiar with choppers, at least I wasn’t at our bases.)
It was hard to believe that there were so many different types of air planes, or that we needed so many variations. I always pretended to care about each plane and helicopter, but honestly I was just amusing everyone. What I patiently awaited all day was what unmistakably would always be the very last plane on parade.
I loved seeing my father’s chest puff up a little more as we approached the B-52. He was so proud of his planes. We all were. I loved that I would get to climb right in and listen as he would point to everything in sight and tell me what it was. Not that I ever really understood any of it, but I was always very impressed.
Later in the afternoon the Thunder Birds or the Blue Angles would take to the skies and put on their magnificent show. Even though the routine never really changed much and we knew all the tricks, we would still get excited for their performance. Dad would video tape it every year and we’d go home and watch it again.
I really miss Open House, but I’m hoping to reenact a small portion of it soon for my husband and daughter. My mother stopped the other day at Griffiss with my two year old to show her the B-52 on display right inside of where the Mohawk Gates used to be. She happened to run into the gentleman that cares for the Ole’ Buff.
It turns out that he not only has the keys to the bomber but he is also used to work with my father and was very happy to see my mom. He offered any time at all that we wanted to go inside and see the inner working of the B-52 he would be happy to meet us there and give us the tour.
How exciting! Ever since I heard this news I have been thinking about it and having very vivid memories of Open House—how neat that will be to show a few civilians that just have no idea.
(I wonder if all those “remove before flight” red tags are still hanging everywhere inside?)