Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Opening Day Story - Walt Eyes the Skies

There are dozens of stories about all of the things which weren't ready or didn't work on Opening Day, from the lack of drinking fountains to high heals breaking off in the asphalt and "milking the elephant" to get rid of Dumbo's Hydraulic Shaving Cream.

Walt was a stickler for detail.  Disney was, and still is, legendary for timing story elements to fractions of a second. Missing the mark or gag timing was bad show.  Then actor Ronald Regan, announcer for the Opening Day parade knew about timing and, on que, he'd announced something about the show to the millions of viewers in the TV audience, but Walt was the only one who's gaze was elevated.

What Walt was anxiously anticipating was a flyover by jets from the 146th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard, stationed at nearby Van Nuys Army Airfield. It was probably supposed to happen during the closing bar of The Star Spangled Banner, just as the Marine Band launched into their opening number.

17 Minutes into the show Walt anxiously scans the skies

A full minute minute later the unmistakable sound of jets was heard. The TV cameras caught nothing as they panned up. We'll probably never know what thoughts were going thru Walt's mind, but I'm pretty sure that if the lead pilot could have seen his face, the legendary raised eyebrow would have been there.

It may have been too much to ask to get a flock of screaming, six ton, 670 mile per hour, fighter jets to pass over the flagpole in time with the music, but it apparently wasn't out of the question for the man who made elephants fly.

A visual record of the the moment has probably been lost forever, but here is a guess at what the scene may have been as the flight formed up for their pass.

Come right to 180 and descend to 1000 feet... Shucks! We're late!

I think they should have come right over the Castle and directly down Main Street.

Castle Blues

Today the flyover tradition continues and the Blue Angels don't miss their mark.



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