2013 Air Shows
Planes of Fame Airshow, May 4-5, 2013
Location: Chino, CA
Admission: $20 ($15 advance) adults, $5 children 5-11, free for museum members.
Parking: Included in admission price, preferred parking $10.
Hire Laszlo NPS aviation photographer
“Lightning Strikes Chino!” was the theme for the 2013 Planes of Fame Museum’s airshow, which featured five of the seven flying P-38s in the world. Over 40 warbirds in the air with many more on static display (including several rare or unique aircraft), great aerobatic performers, and numerous veterans sharing their wartime experiences combined once again to make this one of the best airshows in North America. The overall schedule for the airshow is roughly the same from year to year, featuring WWII Pacific, WWII European and Korean air war demonstrations, civilian aerobatic displays, and a flying performance highlighting the specific year’s theme. However, the mix of individual aircraft changes constantly. The one thing which never changes is the large number and variety of aircraft and the almost constant flying, both in formations and individual flybys.
The gates opened at 0800, parking was a breeze, and the pre-sale of electronically readable tickets kept the lines at the entrance gate to a minimum. Shuttles quickly and efficiently transported visitors from the gate to the runway. The extensive flightline provided ample space to set up chairs, although bleacher seating was also available. Almost all of the aircraft which were scheduled to fly were parked in front of the fence, and this area was open in the morning to allow close-up viewing. There was also a re-enactors camp set up, with ground vehicles on display. The flying began promptly at 1100 with a four-ship missing man formation composed of a P-26 Peashooter, P-51D Mustang, P-40C Warhawk and F-86 Sabre. The Silver Wings Wingwalking team, with Lee Olman at the controls of the silver Stearman and Margaret Stivers moving about the aircraft, amazed the crowd. Rob Harrison, the “Tumbling Bear”, put on a beautiful aerobatic performance in his Zlin 50 aircraft. Then it was time for the Pacific Theater Flight to begin. The skies were filled with F4U Corsairs, J2F Duck, F3F, F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, F8F Bearcat, TBM Avengers and a beautifully restored and brightly colored PBY Catalina. An A6M Zeke/Zero and D3A1 Val represented the Japanese forces. The aircraft made multiple passes, both in groups and singly, before turning to land.
A short intermission provided attendees a chance to catch their breath and grab a bite to eat or something to drink at one of the food booths or beer stands. Prices were reasonable, the selection was varied and tables and chairs were provided in the food court. There were plenty of portable toilets distributed over the grounds. A dedicated kids area was also provided.
The Korean Air War flight began with an AT-6 Texan calling in an airstrike to cover an advancing infantry unit. A Skyraider and Corsair, laden with bombs and rockets, soon appeared and performed a number of low-altitude strafing and bombing runs, with top cover being provided by a Bearcat, Sea Fury, and a pair of Mustangs. A MiG-15 soon threatened them, which caused two T-33 Shooting Stars and an F-86 Sabre to be scrambled. A dogfight between the jets soon ensued, ending with the MiG trailing smoke as it exited the area.
Sean D. Tucker returned to Chino for his inaugural show of the season, putting on a display which has to be seen to be believed. He opened the “Sky Dance” with a long series of snap rolls on the downline, pulling up seemingly at the last minute and followed that with an amazing series of aerobatic routines. Even when he performs standard maneuvers, such as the Hammerhead, he bumps it up by performing a Double Hammerhead. He ended his thirteen minute show with the Triple Ribbon Cut, rolling the bright red Oracle Challenger III biplane from right knife-edge to left knife-edge to inverted flight to cut three ribbons in rapid succession. All this at over 200 mph and barely 25 feet off the ground! A welcome respite from the high energy and raw power of Sean’s demonstration was provided by the graceful flight of the only remaining N9M Flying Wing.
The European Theater Flight featured a large number of P-51D Mustangs, P-40N Warhawk, P-47G Thunderbolt, P-63 Kingcobra, Spitfire MkXIV, and a new-build FW-190. The aircraft made many passes, flying by in ever-changing order and pairings and often so low they were obscured by the parked aircraft in front of the flightline. Dennis Sanders then put on a very spirited flying demonstration in his Sea Fury, creating great smoke rings in the sky as the “heavies” took to the stage. Three B-25J Mitchells and three C-47 Skytrains represented the bombers and cargo planes of the Second World War, flying a number of circuits, including several low passes.. (The EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast flew in the morning and afternoon, but was not part of the airshow.)
Then it was time for the Lightning Strike: P-38F “Glacier Girl,” P-38J “23 Skidoo,” P38L “Honey Bunny,” P-38L “Thoughts of Midnite,” and P-38L “Tangerine” took to the skies over Chino. After forming up and making a group pass over the crowd, the individual Lightnings made many high-speed, low-altitude passes, banking hard to provide the masses of photographers beautiful top-side shots. Steve Hinton ended the session with a solo demonstration of the P-38’s aerobatic capabilities in “Glacier Girl.” A Heritage Flight was flown earlier in the day by a pair of Lightnings, but, for the second year in a row, without a current USAF fighter.
Clay Lacy put on a smooth demonstration of the Learjet’s aerobatic capabilities and John Collver finished out the day’s flying with his aerobatic routine flying the AT-6 Texan “War Dog.”
The impressive lineup attracted another record crowd estimated around 35,000. The intimate venue, almost-constant flying, and wide variety of aircraft make this airshow a photographer’s dream. A 300mm lens is sufficient to capture the fighters, but a zoom lens, or second body with a shorter lens, will be necessary to catch the larger aircraft and all of the action on the taxiway and hotramp. Shooting into the sun can be an issue, but luckily the Santa Ana winds cleared out the SoCal haze this year. ASR Media would like to thank Jerry Wilkins and Harry Geier for arranging the media access and to the many pilots, sponsors, staff and volunteers who made this airshow such a success.
Aerobatic performers included:
  • Sean D. Tucker, Oracle Challenger III Aerobatics
  • Margi Stivers and Lee Oman, Silver Wings Wingwalkers
  • Rob Harrison “The Tumbling Bear”, Zlin 50 Aerobatics
  • Clay Lacy, Learjet Aerobatics
  • John Collver, AT-6 Texan “War Dog”, Aerobatics
  • Dennis Sanders, Sea Fury

Notable flying warbirds:

  • P-38 Lightning (5)
  • A6M Zeke/Zero
  • AD-6 Skyraider
  • B-25J Mitchell (3)
  • C-47 Skytrain (3)
  • D3A1 Val
  • F-86F Sabre
  • F3F
  • F4F Wildcat
  • F4U Corsair (2)
  • F8F Bearcat
  • FW-190 W ürger
  • J2F Duck
  • MiG-15 Fagot
  • N9M Flying Wing
  • P-40 Warhawk (2)
  • P-47G Thunderbolt
  • P-51 Mustang (8)
  • P-63 Kingcobra
  • PBY Catalina
  • SBD-5 Dauntless
  • Sea Fury (2)
  • Spitfire MkXIV
  • T-33 Shooting Star (2)
  • TBM-3E Avenger (2)

Other notable aircraft on static display:

  • D4Y-1 Judy (taxiing)
  • EC-121 Warning Star Super Constellation
  • F-5G (P-38L) photo-recon Lightning
  • F/A-18 Hornet, ex Blue Angels
  • PB4Y Privateer
  • P-59 Airacomet
Rating: 10 out of 10

Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for ASR Media LLC
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