June 5, 2020 (by SMSgt. Vincent De Groot) - “The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball.” This line from the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” was spoken by the character of Terence Mann played by actor James Earl Jones. The iconic baseball movie that asked, “Is this heaven?” about an Iowa cornfield, turned baseball field, still speaks to baseball fans throughout America.
USAF F-16D block 30 #86-0044 from the 121st FS finished with the Major League Baseball’s 2019 World Series Champion, Washington Nationals logo painted as the tail flash is seen outside the Air National Guard Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa on June 2nd, 2020. The unique art on the F-16, assigned to the 113th FW, was completed at the ANG's paint facility this week. [ANG photo by SMSgt. Vincent De Groot]
Although obscured by today’s calamitous headlines, baseball quietly made its return to Iowa this week. Summer baseball and softball in Iowa became the first high school sports games to be played in the United States since the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
In another famous line from the Field of Dreams Jones’ character remarked that America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers, “but baseball has marked the time,” he said, as he expounded on the repetitiveness of history and reassurances of baseball.
Surrounded by cornfields, the paint crew at the Air National Guard’s aircraft paint facility in Sioux City, Iowa also rolled out a timely tribute to the game this week. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcon painted with a tail flash of Major League Baseball’s reigning champion, Washington Nationals.
The aircraft is painted with the new single color, dark grey, and the tail is completed with the bold “W” of the Washington Nationals on a blue background. The unique artwork is painted on a two-seat training version or “D” model F-16 assigned to the 113th Fighter Wing, of the District of Columbia Air National Guard.
Units of the U.S. Air Force can get permission to temporally add special paint schemes, like the Nationals Logo, to aircraft as part of unit morale and community outreach programs.
After returning to Andrews Air Force Base, the aircraft will be displayed at events and may make an appearance at select airshows. The aircraft will serve as an iconic symbol for unit members as well as residents who live and work in the beltway region and beyond.
The Nationals’ home base is Nationals’ Park in the heart of the nation’s capital. On a good day, the ballpark is a 30-minute drive from the Air Guard’s 113th Fighter Wing located at Andrews Air Force base. As the crow flies an F-16 can get from Andrews to the stadium in about 1 second for a game day flyover, or about the same amount of time, it takes National’s closer Sean Doolittle’s fastball to make it to home plate.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the delay in the 2020 MLB season start has also seen a delay in U.S. military sports flyover activities.
When baseball returns to the capital region, hopefully, people will be reminded of the nobility of baseball and be spurred on by the sentiments from the Field of Dreams.
“This game is a part of our past Ray it reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
Nats fans can anticipate a time when they can hear the National Anthem punctuated with a low-level roar of an F-16 flyover. When they look up they can catch a glimpse of their hometown Air National Guard F-16 painted in a cornfield in Iowa, proudly supporting the home team.