Nature's flying aces would give Blue Angels a run for their money


May 24, 1999|By Jeff Holland | Jeff Holland,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT'S BLUE ANGELS TIME, and I'll have my perch in Eastport lined up when the aerobatics start at 2 this afternoon. I'm not going to tell you where my perch is -- you find your own. Fortunately, the air show -- a tradition of the U.S. Naval Academy's Commissioning Week leading up to graduation Wednesday -- covers quite a large area over Annapolis Harbor, so plenty of great perches are available around the Eastport peninsula.

One of the show's more breathtaking moments is when one of the jets sneaks up from behind and comes shrieking over the treetops so low you can count the rivets on the undersides of the wings.

But as astonishing as they are, these jet pilots don't hold a candle to the other aeronauts you can watch all over the Chesapeake all summer long: the little barn swallows that appear each March.

Like the Blue Angels, the swallows are sleek, aerodynamic and dark blue; but the swallows have it all over the jets when it comes to maneuvers.

Sitting on a street-end beach during last year's Blue Angels show, looking out across the mouth of the Severn River at the tall antenna towers on Greenbury Point, I noticed a small flock of barn swallows flitting about, busily performing the public service of ridding the peninsula of unwanted bugs. A little catamaran was sitting on the sand, and the birds were flying around the mast.

At one point, while the jets overhead were pulling multiple G-force turns within the radius of the mile-wide river, the swallows were flying corkscrew patterns around the mast -- inside the stays and shrouds.

That would be like the Blue Angels spinning around one of the antennas on Greenbury Point without touching the guy wires.

The Angels are great fliers, no doubt, but nobody's that great.

This afternoon's sure to be great fun for jet watchers and bird watchers alike. It's a great way for the community to join in the celebration of the Midshipmen's graduation.

Celebrate 350 poster winners

Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson will be at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts at 7 p.m. tomorrow to congratulate winners of the Celebrate 350 historic poster contest. The contest was organized by Mianna Jopp, manager of Information and Guide Services at the Naval Academy's Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, and sponsored by Marley Station Mall.

The judges were John Wilson, an art historian who portrays John Paul Jones at the visitor center, Cindy McBride, owner of McBride Gallery on Main Street, and Lee Boynton, the Maryland Hall artist who painted the historic murals at Annapolis City Hall.

They selected three top winners: Emily Jones, a fourth-grader at Arnold Elementary School; Matt Berry, a fourth-grader at Waugh Chapel Elementary; and John-Graham Green, a sixth-grader at St. Andrew's United Methodist Day School.

The winning posters are now on display at Marley Station Mall. As director of the Celebrate 350 committee, I'm looking forward to meeting the artists so I can admire their work and thank them for helping to bring history to life for everybody in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

Kids set sail

The Eastport Yacht Club, at 317 First St., will sponsor a special event for kids on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. "Kids & the Cup" is a day full of clinics on sailing, safety and the environment. Tucker Thompson, a crew member of America's Cup contender America True, will greet young sailors.

Educational stations will help youngsters learn about sailboats, spinnaker sails, Chesapeake Bay oysters, personal flotation devices and more. The event goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's not only free, but there's a free lunch as well. Children are welcome to bring their parents, too. Information: Jen Beam, 410-268-6665.

A slight delay

The cloning of the Liberty Tree that I mentioned in last week's column has been postponed until 1: 15 p.m. June 2. The Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000 will sponsor the event at St. John's College, when a research team from the Plant Sciences Department of the University of Maryland will extract genetic material from the 400-year-old tree to clone it.

Information: 410-260-6345, or log onto the Web site

Pub Date: 5/24/99

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