“Them Damn Jets At It Again!”

A lone F/A (Fighter/Attack) 18 Hornet screams overhead, its full-throated freedom roar whips my head-and-eyes to the sleek lifting surfaces of its fuselage extensions and I take in its incongruous tricycle landing gear fully extended as it takes a northerly path right over downtown Sanford as it adds a touch more throttle baking its sever bank to join up with the landing pattern in such a truncated manner to make sure anyone even partially familiar with such affairs as airport takeoffs and landings knows in a moment This Is A Serious Plane on final approach. My dad, who flew as bombadier/navigator and Third Crewman aboard the U. S. Navy’s first twin-jet engined slung under folding wings carrier-capable Thermo-Nuclear delivery system called the Douglass A3-D Skywarrior would look up in annoyment as yet another civilian passenger jet took off as he tried to watch – and hear – mom’s Jeopardy and both of their letter-guessing spinning Wheel of Fortune guessing-game shows just after dinner.  He’d mutter a cuss or seven and spin the handle on the new-fangled cable-TV device he barely understood.  I sympathized.  But then he heard – and I did too on that visit back home – the unmistakeable sound of a military vehicle in full throttle taking off over Runway 9R-27L at Ramey Field (NRJ), now called Orlando-Sanford International Airport.  He flashed that so-familiar grin, cock his head and see me in full grin as well as I recognized the sound of an F-4 Phantom II still in full afterburner rattling the roof and windows and doors: “Sound of Freedom, son, Sound of Freedom,” he said over the roar, returning only then to his show with nary a mutter.

 

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