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2012 Air Shows
Cleveland National Air Show Sept 1-3, 2012
Location: Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio
Admission: $21 on show day to the airport grounds, although the show can be viewed from elsewhere along the waterfront for free.
Parking: Several lots on either side of the airport, $20 per car.
Value: Very Good
This was my first time attending a US air show - a friend and I drove down for the purpose as our own city's show, Toronto's Canadian International Air Show, also on Labour Day weekend, was a fairly weak offering and Cleveland had the Blue Angels! Very hard to resist, so we didn't!
Burke Airfield is spread out along Cleveland's waterfront on the south shore of Lake Erie, which makes viewing the show easier as the sun is on your back. Sunscreen is essential of course. The first thing you see on the grounds is a nice monument to the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, with two F-4 Phantoms on pedestals. Entering the field you are immediately presented with the terrific static display. This year's display included a C-130, a C-17 Globemaster, an Apache helicopter as well as nice assortment of military and civilian jets. There was even a brand new Boeing 737-900. This being an American show, the armed forces recruitment shows were there in grand style, each with their own prominent displays. NASA even had a tent. Plenty of food, drink and souvenir displays, too. The static display stretches the length of the airport so there is plenty to do during the day when one isn't watching the show.
On to the show! Cleveland packs a full day of activities in the air, starting at 10am and going to 5pm. We arrived around 11am, and watched a terrific fly-by by the B-17 "Yankee Lady", a T-6 and a F4U-5. The Leapfrogs jumped, Jane Wicker did her wing-walking thing (it was somewhat amusing to count how many times the announcers worked in that she and her pilot were divorced and yet still working together) … a couple of blasts from the Flash Fire Jet Truck II and we were into the high-speed portion of the event. The US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet demo did not disappoint with plenty of high-speed aerobatics and fly-bys, and a heritage flight with he F4U-5. Michael Goulian arrived on the scene to thrill the crowd with his customary aerobatic display in the Goodyear Extra 330SC. A short break while the U.S. Army Golden Knights did their parachute display.
It was interesting to see the southern end of the RCAF's CF-18+CC-130 Refuelling Demo, the other half of which was put on in Toronto an hour or so earlier. A couple of neat fly-bys with the CF-18 positioned to refuel behind the CC-130, and then it was into a terrific solo program by the CF-18, piloted by Cap. Pat "Paco" Gobeil. The American crowd around us were amused and pleased by the demo, although there was some of the expected, "wow, Canada even HAS an air force, I thought we did that for them" attitude… This was dispelled with a rip pass overhead that demonstrated why the plane is nicknamed the Hornet.
The Sky Soldiers Cobra Helicopter demo was postponed for some reason which was a disappointment, but at least we were able to visit the copter on static display. Sean Tucker provided some high-energy entertainment in his Oracle Challenger III (is it par for the course this year that the stunt pilots all do their own announcing?) …and then it was time for the big finish, the Blue Angels.
I had seen the Blues in Toronto back in 2009, but this was the full show, including a view of their ground activities as their crew prepared the planes, and then the pilots walk up, reservoir dogs style…, mount their steeds, taxi out and launch in grand style. The show was as expected - although they did have to switch #5 to the #7 plane due to some last minute issue but otherwise the show was perfect, and the crowd was thrilled.
Traffic getting out of the parking lot on the west side was a real hassle, due in large part to the serpentine arrangement of laneways in the old airport's terminal area. I would recommend parking on the east end of the airport if you want an easy exit.
Participants were:
  • USN Blue Angels with Fat Albert C-130
  • USN F/A-18 Super Hornet
  • USN Leap Frogs
  • US Navy Legacy Flight
  • US Army Golden Knights
  • Sky Soldiers,
  • CF-18 Demo Team
  • CC-130 Hercules Refuel Demo
  • USCG HH-65C Dolphin
  • Mike Goulian
  • Jane Wicker
  • Aurora Aerial Ballet
  • B-17G
  • and many others...
Rating: 8.5 out 10
Photography and report by Hamish Grant for AIRSHOWSREVIEW LLC
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