Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sorry The Government Shut Down, But Here's a Picture of a Plane

With many of you furloughed because of the government shut down, I figured I'd start to post my backlog of entries, so that you have something to read. I'm a good friend. Sorry you don't have a paycheck, but here are some pictures and words about things I did three weeks ago.

So, let's travel back - back to a time when you all got paid for your work and the Panda Cam at National Zoo was on and streaming. Ah, the good ol' days.

It was about three weeks ago when I received a text from my sister that read, "So, apparently Pete is pulling a plane."

I thought, "Is this some kind of expression I don't know? Like 'pulling a fast one'?"

Maybe it means he's taxiing the driveway and eating tiny bags of pretzels. Or, you see him standing outside the window but he tells you he can't do anything for another 3 hours so you should just go buy yourself a bag of Swedish Fish and an US Weekly and wait.

That seems like a very specific expression.

To the surprise of no one, I was wrong. It wasn't an expression. He was literally pulling a plane. Like, with a rope.

Don't worry, I was confused when I first heard too. Why would anyone do that? Don't planes have wheels and engines? Is this like when people voluntarily hand wash clothes even though their washing machine literally has a setting called "hand wash"? Maybe I'm just lazy. 

Turns out the Dulles Day Plane Pull is actually a very cool fundraiser for Special Olympics - a totally valid reason to pull a plane. I decided I needed to see this feat of strength for myself.

The Plane Pull itself is just one element of the annual Dulles Day - a fun day for plane aficionados. Or, sister-in-laws.

So, that Saturday, Melissa, Pete, Baby Charlie and I piled into the car and made our way out to Dulles Airport - a place I usually try to avoid at all costs. (Literally. I will pay more money for a flight if it means I don't have to fly out of Dulles.) It was a beautiful day and we were excited for all the festivities. Although, we missed the TSA dog demonstration because somebody had to take a nap and have a diaper change which delayed our departure (flight pun intended. nailed it.) However, I won't name names

Staring at big kids on the shuttle.
Wearing an aviation hoodie.
After parking, we made our way to the express shuttle. And by "express shuttle" I mean, "shuttle that just had to wait in traffic like everyone else and took forever." Fortunately, there were several big kids for Charlie to stare at while riding so he was perfectly content. Staring at big kids is one of his most favorite past-times.  There was also one small child who repeatedly wanted to give me high fives and creepily touch the strap of my purse. It was cute after the first high five, but not so much by the fourth. The purse thing was weird. His mom found it adorable.

When we finally rolled up to the tarmac*, we went through security and made our way to the aviation wonderland. There were planes as far as the eye could see and festival food beyond that (I have really good vision).

*There's a chance we weren't on a tarmac. I don't know plane terms that well. Plane parking lot? 

Pete was very excited about a Harrier Jet demonstration so we quickly made our way to view it on the runway. I saw a helicopter and said, "Is that it?" No, Lindsay. Don't be stupid. 

Harriers and helicopters
We waited and waited, but it didn't take off. It was still cool to look at though. Plus, helicopters are always awesome. I think the delay was because of weather but I also may have just made that up. Unfortunately, we had to abandon our viewing post because Pete had to go meet his fellow plane pullers. We'll just have to see the Harrier next year.

For the Plane Pull, each team can have 25 people and have to pull the plane 12 feet. They then weigh the team and award prizes based on the fastest team and the lightest team to successfully pull the plane. 

Turns out they had room on the team for an additional participant, so my sister jumped in to help (and I'm pretty sure made all the difference). Charlie and I stayed on the sidelines to cheer, take pictures, and laugh at a paper napkin blowing around on the ground. (Only one of us did the latter.)

Melissa and Pete (and others) pull a plane.
I was very impressed with Melissa and Pete's team. They did it! And with such lovely form. I believe their time was somewhere around 7.5 seconds. The winning team was from a local sheriff's department. Their average weight was around 350 pounds - the AVERAGE weight. They were total beasts and pulled that plane in 5 seconds. If you ever get stuck on a runway and need to be towed 12 feet, they're the guys you want to call. Apparently, they won the past few years as well. It was certainly quite a sight to see. (And, of course, all for a great cause!)
The winning team
After the big plane pull, we wandered around looking at the various display planes (Show planes? Fancy planes? I don't know what you call them) and taking pictures. It was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon and - in case you're worried, along with all your furlough stresses - fear not, the shuttle ride back to the car was quick and easy. And no little kids tried to touch my purse. 

Here are a few more pictures from the day: 
Pete caught us by surprise for this candid. 

"Thumbs up" for airplanes!

The plane pullers and pilot-in-training

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