The Blue Angels & Rear Admiral, USN (Ret) Bill Newman
Sunday, August 12, 2018
|Douglas A-4J Skyhawk, August 12 2018|
As a product of the 20th century I am the kind of a person
that when I hear an airplane flying overhead I look up. Since this is now
absolute routine in the 21st
century few ever look up.
My love of airplanes happened in that last century because
as a boy I was supposed to like cars, airplanes and tanks. It was frowned upon for boys to play with dolls.
That latter pursuit I have gone after with glee now that I
am an old man. I love taking pictures of women (with clothes and without) and
when they arrive at my Vancouver Kits studio I have them parade in the clothes
they have brought.
But that urge to like all those metals things that planes
and cars are, has lured me to airplanes all my life.
|My daughter Ale and friend Paul Leisz at Abbotsford Airshow in 1978 Colour negative has suffered with age.|
I can point out that I have flown in DC-3s (and the military
version, an Argentine Navy C-47 ) DC-6Bs, Constellations and Super
Constellations, a Convair 990, a Boeing 707 and for sheer thrills a Comet 4C
(Mexicana de Aviación) and that exciting Boeing 727 that could take off in an
extreme upward climb with lots of noise. I also flew in a T-6 Texan/SNJ/Harvard
and the pilot flew it upside down while navigating across the The Lionsmountain in North Vancouver.
But there are two other airplanes that I boarded that are
special. One is that American workhorse the C-130 Hercules and a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.
It was the latter, the A-4 that is really my favourite
airplane of all time (perhaps the exception being the A-6 Intruder). In 1966-67
I was a conscript in the Argentine Navy. My English landed me in the office of
the Senior US Naval Advisor, Captain Onofrio Salvia, USN. I translated
documents into English and into Spanish. At the time the Argentine Navy was
purchasing A-4Bs from the US Navy and I was called in to translate the
operating manuals with the help of a US Navy officer. That was my one flight in
this beautiful airplane that came to be shot down (to my chagrin and sadness)
by the British during the War of the Malvinas. I insist on that term because
while now I am a Canadian citizen I still feel Argentine!
It was in 1975 (my Canadian wife Rosemary and two
Mexican-born daughters Ale and Hilary ) that we moved from Mexico City to
Vancouver BC. In 1978 I went with the family to the Abbotsford Airshow with our
new Canadian friend Paul Leisz. Since then I have returned several times.
There is a pattern here that pleasantly forced me to attend
the show yesterday August 12, 2018. The presence of the Blue Angels made it most
necessary as at the almost age of 76 I am attempting what is generally called
tying up loose ends. I saw the Blue Angels again at Abbotsford sometime in the
late 80s or the early 90s as the airplanes in my photos are still the
My best time with the Blue Angels happened at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. I wrote about it here.
Blue Angels into the Wild Blue Yonder
As I arrived at the show I heard an unmistakable sound to my
ears. I looked up and saw a single A-4 (an A-4J so I found out).
Once the A-4 landed I was able to talk to the two gentlemen
gingerly getting off the cockpit as no ladder had been made available. The
pilot and owner of the aircraft (he routinely flies 747s!) was Don Keating. The
man behind him is Rear Admiral, USN (Ret) Bill Newman who (!!!) in 1978 at the
Abbotsford Airshow was Blue Angel #1.
As the almost 76 year-old man that I am living in this
surprisingly troubling century I have attempted to reconcile my idea that
loving a loud war machine (as you approach the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station,
home of really good airshows! a sign says something like “don’t mind the noise,
the sound of freedom”) and I think I did so here
. There was something about the
face of Captain USN, John S.Schork
when he faced my camera by his A-6 Intruder
that somehow calmed me. Could I see something of a man reconciling that he might
have killed people with his airplane?
is a palpable responsibility that few of us have to ever take.