Many of you may have read the following sentiments before in a previous column, but I can’t help gushing about the fact that the U.S. Navy “Blue Angels” are actually coming to Fayette County next weekend. It’s a dream come true, not just for me but also for an old friend who I like to think will be watching The Great Georgia Air Show from the highest possible vantage point.
The late Tom Barnes is that old friend, and he made a huge impact on Fayette County, though he lived in Cobb County, as the Commemorative Air Force wing leader. He held that role when the wing got involved with Fayette Youth Protection Homes (now “Bloom”) and Peachtree City Falcon Field Airport (now “Atlanta Regional Airport”) to put on the first full-scale Wings over Dixie Airshow & Festival in September 1998.
I had the privilege of helping as a volunteer that year, and I was the public relations guy for 1999 and 2000. All of those were great years, and great momentum was gained as local Kiwanis Club members got involved and really kicked on the afterburners. But 2000 was special because Tom pulled off attracting the nine-ship Canadian Forces Snowbirds, which was a performance I hope I never forget.
Most memorable, though, was standing side-by-side with Tom, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot whose face shone as the Snowbirds wowed the crowd. He glanced over at me and said, “And now we need to get the Blue Angels.”
Tom, if Heaven’s residents still pay attention to what’s happening down here, you probably already know the Blue Angels are coming to the air show you helped launch so many years ago, and I’m sure you will be watching from the best seat in the universe. My friends at The Great Georgia Air Show, thank you so much for making Tom’s dream and our dream finally come true. It’s going to be an unforgettable weekend.