Yesterday (Jamaican Labour Day) started like any other public holiday. We slept late, had a late breakfast, watched a show on Netflix, and bickered about who was on dish washing duties. The stuff that every young couple do when they are madly in love. At around 11:50 am, there was a big ruckus/explosion like sound to the back of our apartment, what sounded to be an aviation disaster.
Armed with our cameras (expecting to see great balls of flames), we approached the balcony of our third floor apartment in our typical sleep wear (Tank top/A-Shirt and underwear). To our dismay, we saw nothing and were left with more questions than answers. So we did what anyone in our position would have done. We said a few prayers (maybe just one), then looked to our friends on Facebook to get some answers, or in the least find out if we were the only ones not caught up in the rapture.
We later learnt that the Canadian air force and the Jamaica Defence Force were having demonstrations on the water front of the Kingston harbour which would include the CF18 Fighter jet among others. Persons living in first world countries might not understand, but to an aviation enthusiast in a third world country, this is the most exciting thing since the invention of Kool-Aid, since the slaves were freed, since Bush (both of them) left the White House… think you get the picture.
Within thirty minutes after the CF18 pilot made his/her first pass over our house, Gilly and I had showered, got dressed and were on location for an event that was to start in three hours. The rain fell for approximately an hour but thankfully we had arrived early and got parking as close to the waterfront as the road would allow so we were able to retreat to the car in seconds. When the rain ended and the sun revealed its face, we were joined by numerous friends and family members who all gathered around the park bench we had secured hours before
After the a few maritime displays by the Jamaica Defence force’s coast guard, the big guns ( so to speak) came out to play. We were amazed at the enormity of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules, the share power and speed of the CF18 Fighter jet, the alarming manner in which our cars reacted to the sonic boom, the fiery display when the afterburner was ignited, not to mention the skill required to bring a machine capable of speeds twice as fast as sound to what seemed to be a hover. Before we knew it, the display had ended. We were not disappointed but were left wanting more. However, the dives, formations, and stunts of the seagulls had to suffice as, sadly, it was over.
The aeronautical ballet was exciting and I am sure that a new generation of aeronautical enthusiasts were born yesterday. Kids and adults alike, were reminded that our dreams can take us beyond the Jamaican shores and can even be bigger than the 4,244 sq miles of land we call home. We were reminded that the skies are the limit and almost anything can be achieved if we put our mind to it. Thanks to the JDF and the Royal Canadian Air force, this 28 year old “would be” pilot and thousands of “will be” Jamaican pilots will have stories for years to come regarding the day the CF18 flew into our hearts and broke the sound barrier.