Saturday, May 5, 2012

Flying Team Piano Burn

Last night, Dan had a Piano Burn for his Flying Team. Burning a piano? Weird, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. I knew Dan had already been to some before, but I had never been able to go before, but he invited me last night, and it was such an interesting tradition to be able to witness.

Basically, the tradition in the Air Force is that when pilots are getting ready to deploy, they burn a piano as a kind of send off. Dan obviously isn't deploying, but his team is leaving next week for Flying Team Nationals in Salina, Kansas. Because they are heading out, the 557th Squadron at the Airfield of the United States Air Force Academy had a piano burn for the Flying Team. The coolest part may have been the Air Force fire truck that put the fire out at the end!

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I didn't think I would actually see a REAL piano burn into nothing. But I did. Intrigued, I looked up where this tradition started. Dan only knew bits and pieces but couldn't tell me exactly how or where people started doing this. As always, I turned to Google, which knows everything. A website called Christian Fighter Pilot had the answer I was looking for regarding this tradition. They say:
The burning of the piano tradition dates back to the Battle of Britain.  A Brit pilot in one of the Eagle Squadrons, the 133rd I think, was quite the piano player and was popular in the squadron.  One day he was KIA, and the rest of the squadron felt that no one would ever be able to play the squadron piano like him, so they burned it.  This was near the turn in the tide of the Battle of Britain, so now every September a piano is burned.  This was a tradition carried on at Seymour Air Force Base [an F-15E Strike Eagle base], since three of the squadrons there were formerly Eagle squadrons, and had a fair amount of British exchange pilots. 
Anyway, it was an incredible thing to experience, and the fun was compounded by free beer from Colorado Mountain Brewery. Overall, it was fun to see such a thing, and now the Flying Team is ready to head to Nationals and do well! Wish them luck-- they leave next Thursday and will be competing for about a week!

And now for the good stuff: pictures! You didn't think I failed to take any, did you? Of course not!

Be honest: doesn't that look so cool? Until next time...

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