The McGuire air show wasn’t until tomorrow, but the Thunderbirds were already there, doing a practice run. I sat on top of the monkey bars at Wacky World and watched the six fighter jets twist and loop, shooting across the sky like synchronized bullets.
“It’s awful,” Caroline, my sister, said as rumbles sliced through the air. She was sixteen and hated the air show. “I feel like my eardrums are going to implode.”
I ignored her. Mom had made Caroline walk over to Wacky World with me. She said it was because Caroline needed to stop watching 7th Heaven and get out of the house, but I knew she didn’t like the idea of me walking alone. Even though my twelfth birthday was only a month away, she still thought I was a baby.
“It’s the same every year!” Caroline had to yell so I could hear her over the roar of the Thunderbirds. “I bet they don’t even change their routines, just add different music.”
But I knew better. The Thunderbirds traveled all over the world, performing for huge crowds and showing everyone what the Air Force was all about. They were the Air Force ambassadors, Dad said.
“They make us look good,” he told me at the air show two years earlier, when I really started getting interested in planes. “See how close each plane’s wingtips are to the other planes’? It takes precision and years of training to pilot like that.”
“Have you ever flown a plane?” I’d asked.
He’d chuckled. “Once. Much harder than it looks.”
Dad was an airplane mechanic on another air force base for years before we moved to McGuire. He worked on the Boeing KC-10s, the type of airplane that gave me my name. I was only two or three at the time and always pronounced the name wrong. I’d always ask him, “Did you fix any Bowies today?” And it stuck. Bowie.