Category Archives: Airshows

Shameless CAF SoCal Plug

Go look here to see some great pictures from our CAF SoCal Wing.

We were out at El Centro, CA last week for the first big airshow of the season. The Blue Angels were there.

The Blue Angels currently fly F-18’s. When they formed after WWII they first flew F8F Bearcats and F6F Hellcats.

We have a F8F Bearcat. We have an F6F Hellcat.

On the evening before the airshow, at sunset we went up with our F8F, our F6F, one of their F18s, and some photographers in our PBJ-1/B-25 as a photo platform. The pictures are pretty stinking spectacular.

Check them out on our website and also on our Instagram or Twitter feeds!

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The Airshow Working Me

As much as I might be in (serious, world-class, overwhelming, all-encompassing) denial about getting older, I might be getting too old for this shit.

Another lovely day, albeit another 13 hour plus day. First thing tomorrow, starting the week a half lap or more behind on sleep, the new week starts.

How was your weekend?

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Working The Airshow

Working the airshow is not quite as much fun as just going to an airshow. But it was a good day, even if I did have a 15 hour day there.

 Tomorrow will probably be another 12+ hour day, so if you’re in SoCal, feel free to come out and say howdy!

Gates ooen at 10:00, flying starts at noon and goes until about 16:30. If you’re there, wander by the CAF hangars & chat. Don’t sweat finding me – just ask anyone working at any of the CAF booths there and they’ll track me down.

See you there, maybe?

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Out Of The Frying Pan

You may have noticed that The Long-Suffering Wife and I were on vacation in New York City for the last eight days. It was pretty much a “go, Go, GO!!” trip, trying to hit as many first-time tourist spots as possible in one of the largest tourist traps on the planet.

All good things must end. Today it was back to the real world, the office, and everything that had occurred back at the office during those eight days. The good news is that I have a fantastic team there (great job, Esther and Hazel!) and while today was a bit frantic, there weren’t any crises to speak of.

One might think that I would be grateful for a “short week” since I was off in the Big Apple on Monday and Tuesday. But that’s not to be. As busy (and occasionally exhausting) as the road days were, this upcoming weekend will be as frantic or more so.

It’s time for this year’s “Wings Over Camarillo” airshow! (Previous years’ pictures here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

With the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force being both a major sponsor of the show as well as one of the lead performing groups (at last check we’ll be flying the PT-19, the SNJ-5, the Hellcat, the Bearcat, the Zero, the Spitfire, and the PBJ (flying at her first airshow). The Mustang is currently down for repairs, but will be there to gawk at, sans engine.

With my volunteer role as Finance Officer for the CAF SoCal Wing, I’ll be extremely busy all weekend.

So much for the theory which says, “I’ll catch up on my sleep when I get back from vacation.” Somehow “I’ll catch up on my sleep ten days or so after I get back from vacation, put in long hours at the office, and then put in eighteen-hour days all weekend” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the same way.

Don’t worry. I’ll take lots of pictures to share. Sometime after I get caught up on my sleep.

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 7 – Even More Blue Angels

All good things must end, and so it is with an airshow. It was a long day, an extremely good and fun day, and I’ve shared pictures of  flying CAF SoCal aircraftstatic CAF aircraft, static civilian aircraft, two batches of static military aircraft, and a first batch of Blue Angels pictures. Oh, and there were also pictures of some of the feathered flyers at Point Mugu that day. With today’s pictures, I’ll wrap up coverage of this air show, but don’t worry. You can bet that there will be more air shows to follow.

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 6 – The Blue Angels

Dessert gets served last in order to heighten the anticipation. Ditto for airshows.

Following pictures of  flying CAF SoCal aircraftstatic CAF aircraft, and static civilian aircraft, plus two batches of static military aircraft, it’s time for dessert.

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Aircraft #1 through #6 normally perform the Blue Angels’ show. Aircraft #7 is ready to go as a spare if there’s a mechanical problem. I’ve seen a show where someone landed, got into #7, took off, and the show resumed in maybe five minutes. You think NASCAR can do a bitchin’ pit stop?

Aircraft #7 is also a two-seater, so when you see one of those excellent videos of some celebrity or newscaster blacking out in a 9G turn on a PR flight, this is where they’re sitting.

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“Fat Albert” is the C-130 support aircraft that hauls around parts, team members, luggage, and so on. Remember, these women and men are on the road about 2/3 of every year bringing these shows to you. And Fat Albert does get to its part of the show as well.

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The precision flying on display is almost beyond belief.

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These pilots truly are the best of the best.

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If you are bothered by loud noises, bring ear plugs or a set of foam ear muffs.

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If you absolutely LOVE the loud noises these jets bring and the feeling of a wall of sound beating against you as sixteen tons of machine turn Jet A into megadecibels as it does a 200 knot, 9G, minimum radius turn in front of you, just wallow in it. (Two guesses which camp I’m in…)

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The mountain to the east of Point Mugu is covered with radar and equipment that tracks ballistic launches out of Vandenberg AFB as well as the weapons test that Point Mugu has done for decades. I realized at one point that the whole team had joined up and would be flying right over it behind us.

For whatever reason, this is one of my favorite pictures from this airshow.

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After landing, the team taxis back…

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…to be met by a fleet of tankers full of the aforementioned Jet A.

 

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 5 – Even More Static Military Aircraft

Following pictures of  flying CAF SoCal aircraftstatic CAF aircraft, and static civilian aircraft, plus a first batch of static military aircraft, it’s time for one more batch before we get to the main course.

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Perhaps not strictly military in this iteration, this is the Breitling Jet Team prior to their takeoff. They put on an exceptionally good show.

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A C-130 cargo plane with four big turboprop engines.

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The front of a helicopter, with a big camera platform hanging off the nose.

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That same helicopter from the side, with one of the propeller blade coming at us like a cheezy 3-D movie. I’m about 99% sure this is a Blackhawk, but if I’m a member of the 1%, someone will correct me, I’m sure. (That’s one of the reasons the Internet was invented.)

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An A-6 Intruder.

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Again, perhaps not strictly military at the moment, this MK-58 Hawker Hunter is one of many owned by a company called ATAC. They fly these as targets in military training flights, among other things.

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Another C-130 variant?

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A C-17 cargo jet. These things are freakin’ huge. Not quite as freakin’ huge as a C-5 Galaxy, but there’s huge and then there’s huger, if you know what I mean.

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It’s a treat to watch a C-17 demonstration. Even with a full load these things can take off in an obscenely short distance, even on an unpaved runway or remote site. Better yet, they can land on that unpaved runway or remote site in the first place, then stop on a dime and give you nine cents change.

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 4 – Static Military Aircraft

Following pictures of  flying CAF SoCal aircraftstatic CAF aircraft, and static civilian aircraft, let’s look at some military hardware up close and personal. (There’s a LOT to see at an airshow!)

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The pointy end of your standard issue F-18 Hornet fighter. The lens makes it look much further away than it is. When I say “up close and personal,” the emphasis is on “close.” Touching the planes is a good way to be asked to leave, possibly with an escort and to a place other than where you want to go, but just getting a good look? That’s easy.

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This is simultaneously both the “go fast” and “stop fast” end of the F-18 Hornet. Those two engines with afterburners can push you vertical with ease, and up to Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph). That big hook in the middle is how you stop eleven tons of flying machine on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

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The B-52 bombers just keep going and flying on forever. These planes were built prior to the birth of their pilot’s parents for the most part, but they keep getting upgraded and maintained and nothing better’s been developed yet.

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The best utility of a BUFF (or any other large cargo or transport plane) at an airshow is providing shade!

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The A-6 Intruder. That weird proboscis? That’s where you nuzzle up to the nozzle hanging down from the tanker for mid-air refueling.

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The A-6 in profile, and amazingly, without anyone standing in the way! I think I waited ten minutes for that to happen.

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The E-2 Hawkeye is a communications center in the air and a reconnaissance platform. It can simultaneously track over 2,000 targets and up to a 100 ongoing target intercepts over an area out to over 400 miles. That’s a lot of command and control.

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These big eight-blade propeller make a lot of noise and deliver a lot of thrust, always useful on a carrier takeoff. They also sound odd compared to a jet, which is why this plane is sometimes called the “Hummer.”

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The big dome on the top rotates as the radar system works. The double, extra wide tail is needed to deal with the disruption of the air coming over and around the radar disc.

 

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 3 – Static Civilian Aircraft

Last Wednesday I shared pictures of our CAF SoCal aircraft flying at August’s Point Mugu airshow. Friday I shared static aircraft from other CAF units. Today, static aircraft from other civilian owners.

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Shiny! I’ve seen this Beech C-45 Expediter at many airshows. It’s stunning.

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The C-45 will carry two pilots and five passengers over 1,500 miles at a cruise speed of 207 mph, with a max speed of 234 mph and a max altitude of 23,300 feet. This would be a fantastic plane to own as a personal aircraft!

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More shiny! This is, of course, a P-51 fighter, in a different configuration and paint scheme from ours.

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Aside from the paint (or lack thereof), the biggest difference between this P-51 and the one we fly is that this one has not been converted to fly with a passenger.

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This is another Beech C-45, an “H” model. Different paint scheme, but more similarities than differences.

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Look at the lights on the nose, the landing gear, the vents in the leading edge of the wing between the engines and the fuselage — all the same as the silver plane. Some small differences in the engines, but planes can have different engines on the same body.

It’s still a great looking plane.

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This aircraft started life as an Army B-24 bomber, then ended up as a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer. This is a standard for nomenclature for plane types used in both the Army and Navy during World War II. For example, the Army B-25 bomber became the Navy PBJ – the PBJ we’re restoring at the CAF SoCal is a Marine aircraft, further upgraded with machine guns so that it could be used as an attack bomber instead of just as a bomber.

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After World War II this aircraft went to the Coast Guard, then used in private service as an aerial tanker and fire bomber.

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Finally, another SNJ trainer. As with the Army B-25 and Navy PBY, for trainers the Army had Texans, the Navy has SNJs, and the British had Harvards. Texan = SNJ = Harvard.

I don’t know who owns this one (I forgot to get a picture showing the plane’s “N-number” or registration number) but it might be part of the Condor Squadron that flies out of Van Nuys Airport.

 

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Point Mugu Airshow – Part 2 – Static CAF Aircraft

Wednesday I shared pictures of our CAF SoCal aircraft flying at last month’s Point Mugu airshow. Today let’s look at the first batch of static aircraft (i.e., aircraft sitting on the ground) from that airshow. Most of these are from the CAF, but not the SoCal Wing.

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This is from the CAF SoCal wing, our F8F Bearcat. You can also see the nose of our P-51 Mustang on the right hand side. I show this picture to note the SoCal Wing didn’t have any static aircraft at Point Mugu this time. The five aircraft we had were all flying and thus parked on the “hot ramp.”

Planes on the hot ramp can be seen by the public, but only from a distance. About a hundred yards off on the left, over by the C-53 (big, green airplane; see below), you can see a fence behind which people are standing. The general public and active aircraft don’t mix well and safety’s really important at an airshow, so planes with turning propellers and popping engines and large fuel loads are kept by themselves.

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Also way off by themselves, for looking only, are the F-18s the Blue Angels fly. Again, a hot ramp, but theirs is right out in front where everyone can see them.

If you’re going to your first show, know the flight line is the place to grab a seat if you can. Generally, there will be fencing lining a long stretch more or less parallel to the main runway. The closer you can get to that fence, the better your view will be. Also, it will (hopefully) be sunny, so check the restrictions for the show you’re going to to see what you can bring in as far as umbrellas (usually okay) or pop-up pavilions or tents (usually not).

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Two PT-22 Ryan trainers came out from the CAF Inland Empire Wing. These are “big brothers” to the PT-19 trainer that we have at the SoCal Wing, which I got to take a ride in last weekend.

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I’ve shown these planes flying at our Wings Over Camarillo airshow, both this year and last year. (Different years, different pictures, same planes, same formation.)

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Also from the CAF Inland Empire Wing are the aforementioned C-53 Skytrooper, “D-Day Doll,” and their Piper L-4 scout plane, tucked under the C-53’s wing on the left.

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The C-53 is a variant on the C-47 cargo plane, with the C-53 modified to be utilized as a platform for dropping paratroopers.

The Inland Empire Wing has their facility out in Riverside, CA, and just as we do at the SoCal Wing, they sell rides in their aircraft, including D-Day Doll.

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This German ME-108 is also a CAF aircraft (see the logo right above the wing at the rear of the cockpit window) brought out by the Third Pursuit Squadron.

Remember at the top I mentioned the hot ramp and the fence that separates it from the static aircraft and crowd? This picture is taken from the opposite viewpoint, with the fence right behind the ME-108’s tail and one of our aircraft off in the distance on the hot ramp. Just for reference.

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The Third Pursuit Squadron operates out of Cable Airport in Upland and also brought out their Antonov AN-2, “Big Pandamonium.”

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I’ve also posted pictures of Big Panda in flight at last year’s Wings Over Camarillo airshow. I have yet to get a flight in her, but hope to soon. She’s been out visiting in Camarillo several times in addition to her WOC appearances.

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