Saturday, April 25, 2009

A great gathering

Today Miss D. and I attended the annual fly-in and gathering of the Alamo Liaison Squadron at Cannon Field, south of San Antonio, TX.

We had a wonderful time. Proceedings opened with the bagpipes, and continued through various ceremonies and events, including fly-pasts, a demonstration of casualty evacuation aboard a Stinson L-5 (fascinating to see, as it was the forerunner of casevac missions flown by helicopters such as the Bell 47 - known as the H-13 Sioux in military service - in Korea), various other aerial demonstrations, flour-bombing a target (in which most of the aircraft 'bomb-aimers' were young children, all shrieking with excitement, throwing paper bags full of flour out of the windows while the pilots tried to hold their aircraft steady in the fairly brisk cross-wind). Aircraft were on static display (kids again having the most fun, imagining machine-guns mounted on every available spot, and play-firing them at imaginary enemy opponents). Lunch was a catered BBQ. I guess there were several hundred people present, including some young USAF ROTC candidates, which was good to see.

Among those attending were two pilots who'd actually flown L-birds during World War II, one of them at Okinawa. They were honored with special presentations during the festivities, which was very appropriate, and pleasing to this veteran of another war and another service.

A documentary on liaison aircraft was shown continuously throughout the day. It's worth checking out for yourself - see here for details. In particular, I was fascinated to see footage of the Brodie System in operation. I'd heard of it, of course, but never seen it portrayed. Briefly, it was a system of cables that allowed a Piper Cub or equivalent aircraft to 'land' on a support ship without needing a flight deck. Such aircraft would have played a major role in bombardment liaison duties when Japan was invaded, although fortunately the two atomic bombs rendered that unnecessary.

Tonight we took the advice of Crucis, who recommended it in a comment to an earlier post about our travels. We went to the Barn Door for supper. Ooooh... my stomach is still purring! For starters I chose the crab cakes, while Miss D. decided to go with bacon-wrapped chicken bites, highly spiced. For the main course I had fresh calves' liver and onions, with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach (the latter being the best and tastiest I've ever had, IMHO). Miss D. had a chicken breast cooked in apple brandy, again with all the trimmings. We compromised on a shared piece of cheesecake for dessert. Superb food, and good value for money, considering the quality. We're planning to go back there tomorrow evening. Thanks, Crucis - great advice!

This was a much happier experience than our trip to the Riverwalk last night. I was last there five or six years ago, and remember it as very pleasant; well-dressed people, enjoying their evening, with not too much noise, mess or fuss. Not so this time. There were far too many people downtown, perhaps due to spring break, and most of them had no manners whatsoever. In particular, Miss D. was bothered by young Hispanic men who seemed to deliberately walk right into her. I've not seen that sort of macho display before, but after last night, I think it's high time a few heads were broken to cure these young punks of their habit.

We ate at Michelino's, a restaurant on the Riverwalk, but were very disappointed. Miss D.'s chicken marinara was freezer-burned, and the sauce was neither fresh nor hot. The pasta was soggy and definitely past its prime. My veal parmesan was edible, but not particularly distinguished. Service was not good, taking far too long, and some of the staff appeared to be drunk. All in all, it was much worse than I remember the same restaurant as being during my previous visit. I won't be going back to the Riverwalk - or Michelino's - in a hurry, I can promise you!

It's our last day in San Antonio tomorrow. We'll play tourist, and relax a bit: then it's homeward bound. Normal blogging will resume very shortly.



Tim D said...

I haven't been back to the Riverwalk in about 20 years. But I highly recommend Mi Tierra at the farmers market. Ahh memories.

Ryan Short said...

Hey, this was a BAD week to be on the Riverwalk. It's Fiesta week in San Antonio and that tends to bring out the bad...

Ryan - from ALS.