Sunshine, perfect warm (not hot) temps, and lots of cool cars and awesome airplanes to marvel at make for a joyous day!
A few weeks ago, an event suggestion popped up on Facebook that sounded like a great Fall outing for us — a Vintage Wings and Wheels show at the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Airbase at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ. We put it on the calendar as a possibility. When the weather looked even more glorious, we made plans to head to the other side of the Valley. On our way out, we thought, “This would be something Vikki and Keith would enjoy … why didn’t we think of that?” We called just in case, and sure enough, they had no plans for the day. They said they’d meet us there!
The CAF is known for keeping historic aircraft flying to “reinforce the lessons learned from the defining moments in American military aviation history.” Run entirely on donations, the annual Wings and Wheels car show exposes even more people to their museum and mission. We were glad to be part of it.
Paying our entrance fees (discounts were available for seniors and veterans, active military get in free), we walked through the museum and out the hangar doors with Enzo (the museum is pet friendly!). We were greeted by a wave of bright, colorful classic vehicles on the CAF tarmac.
Greg was immediately drawn to a stunning bright red 1962 Ferrari GTO. Enzo begrudgingly stayed still for the requisite photo opp in honor of his namesake.
When Vikki and Keith arrived, the “boys” geeked out on cars while Vikki and I caught up. We walked among the several rows of vehicles, in awe of the attention to detail their owner’s lavished on their rides.
As children of the 60s and 70s, Keith and Greg grew up with muscle cars around them. They were particularly drawn to several classic Pontiac GTOs. There was a lot of “if only” talk among us … we all agreed a convertible was a must.
Newly retired, Keith was on the lookout for a fun car to cruise around in and honed in on the many Corvettes scattered throughout the rows of shiny, pristine classics. Is a trip to one of the Phoenix area’s many classic car auctions far behind?
A font of useless car trivia, Greg nearly ran to see the pair of 1972 DeTomaso Panteras parked in front of the hangar, claiming, “I haven’t seen one of these since 1984!” He spoke to one of the owners, learning more about the history behind the sexy Italian car with the Ford V8 engine.
As the day warmed and the sun blazed, we all headed inside to wander among the historic airplanes, helicopters and memorabilia. A Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter brought back a memory of a close-call during Keith’s time on active duty. The many WWII-era aircraft (all still airworthy) show the advancement of flight and the nose art tells the stories of aircrews through the years.
After several hours of car and airplane gazing we popped into a nearby eatery for lunch and some fun conversation, whiling away another hour-or-so before heading home, grateful for like-minded friends and still buzzing from a great day out.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Catch a little pop-culture history wherever you may roam.
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