Sunday, October 19, 2014

Miramar Air Show, San Diego Area

We waited in the San Diego area to go to the biggest military air show in the US at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar It was a chance to see the Navy Blue Angels one more time. The air show is part of Fleet Week San Diego, which actually lasted from August 30 to November 21  The air show takes place over 3 days and an estimated 700,000 people attended. We went on Friday thinking it might not be as crowded since people might be at work. It was crowded anyway. We paid for preferred parking and seating in a shade tent which turned out to be a good plan as we were situated right in front of the announcer.
Throughout the day there were demonstrations and displays of all kinds of military equipment. Lots of different planes flying around, showing their stuff.

There are lots of links to websites below where you can go learn more about some of what we saw.

Brian took all the pictures using Sue’s new Nikon D5300 with a 300mm lens. The sport setting allows taking several pictures per second at very high speed – note the blades on helicopters and plane propellers are stopped by the speed of the camera. The camera count at the end of the day was 874. What’s not to love about digital? Most of the shots were bad but the idea is to shoot, shoot, shoot, and then edit for the good ones. First edit got the count down to 53.


Helicopters, a variety of them, started the show. Some of them can be identified at the Top Ten Military Helicopters website


The announcer said something about these Chinooks being retired after this show.

The Osprey is a prop plane that takes off vertically like a helicopter and then tilts the engines to fly like an airplane.

The Patriots Jet Team is a civilian team of Czech built jet trainers that do precision aerobatic flying demonstrations. We were in the San Francisco Bay area a few years ago and saw these planes and could not figure out who they were. They are based in the Delta between San Francisco and Stockton - Patriots Jet Team Center, 760 Osprey Ct,, Byron CA. Their website says the public can visit them at their hanger.  also
The plane they fly is the L-39 Albatross Jet aircraft. which can be bought by civilians for $200,000–$300,000

The Patriots Jet Team features talented pilots, some of whom were formerly part of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Navy Blue Angels or Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. They have logged over 105,000 hours of flight time and performed in more than, 1500 air shows.

F-35 Lightning II is the newest, most advanced, most expensive, and most controversial plane in the military world.This is a jet fighter that can take-off and land vertically. It's similar to the Harrier.
This was only the second public demonstration of this plane. It is still not ready to go into action. Many websites give different figures about this plane and how long it has been in development and how much the program costs – 20 years or more - $300 BILLION to a TRILLION $$$$. Other countries (Allies) are investing in this program and will be buying these planes.

The first picture below shows the F-35 in flight and then with (7?) “doors” open it can slow to where it can land vertically – no runway needed. More can be learned about the F-35 at these links.

Sean D Tucker is what we used to call a stunt pilot or barnstormer but he flies a much more advanced and custom built plane. It is the only one in the world that can do some of the stunts that he performs.

It was amazing to see this performance live and in person.

The United States Navy Blue Angels were the grand finale.

Fat Albert is the Blue Angels support C-130. It carries all the crews and equipment from show to show.

Fat Albert performed a few stunts of its own to begin the Blue Angels demonstration.

The Blue Angels fly six F-18 fighters. Their website is extensive and detailed and very interesting to visit. With a little searching you will find ways to see videos shot from inside the cockpit of one of the planes as they go through all the various formations. These videos are a great way to see how close these planes actually are to each other when they fly. Interesting note – as we listened to the announcer, we heard him say 'Longmont, Colorado'. We opened our program and found the Blue Angels Flight Surgeon is LCDR Mark DeBuse. He attended Skyline High School in Longmont while Sue was teaching there. Sue knew his mother who also taught there. Scroll through the officers to find Mark’s bio and then meet all the other Angel team members. I found it interesting that members of the enlisted ground crew came from many different countries. The Command Master Chief is from Sierra Leone and other crew members are originally from Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala and Jamaica although most come from the USA of course.

Our announcer 

The crew chief turns the plane over to the pilot

The flight crews – the best of the best – supporting the best of the best.

Number 4 Angel is a two seater and some lucky dog got to go for a ride along. I emailed the Angels and was told only very VIP VIPs get to ride in one of these planes, such as governors and senators and football quarterbacks. However, during the show only active duty military pilots get to take this ride.

Upside down.

A high speed pass – very difficult to catch with a camera – with each plane flying at between 300 – 400 mph. The “closing speed” is between 600 – 800 mph only a split second for the actual pass.

Wheels and tailhooks down for a slow speed fly-by

Two up and two down

Another pass
Four across

If you look very closely in the photo below you can see the back seat passenger in number 4 in the center of the picture. Note the other F-18s do not have two seats – see the larger canopy.

When Sue and I first met over 20 years ago we went to an air show for the grand opening of Denver International Airport. The airport did not actually open for almost another 2 years but the show was planned years in advance so the show must go on. That show was very special because they not only had the US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Canadian Snowbirds but a very rare appearance on this continent of the British Royal Air Force Red Arrows. More about all these demonstration teams are on their websites which are very detailed and informative.

The Thunderbirds fly six F-16 fighters

The Snowbirds fly nine Canadian-built CT-114 Tutor aircraft

The Red Arrows fly ten  BAE Systems Hawk T1 aircraft