California Capital Airshow, September 21-23, 2018
|Location: Sacramento Mather Airport, Rancho Cordova, CA
|Admission: $30 Adults, $15 Children
|Parking: $10 on-site
|Rating out of 10: 10
The 2018 California Capital Airshow was held on September 21-23 at Sacramento Mather Airport celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Mather Field. The show featured a wide variety of performers including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, F-35 Heritage Flight Team, CF-18 Hornet Demo Team, and the 144th Fighter Wing with their specially painted F-15 Eagle commemorating the wing’s 75th anniversary. In addition to the full airshow weekend there was a twilight show on Friday which featured multiple aerial performers as well as an impressive fireworks display.
Gates opened to the public at 9:00 am and spectators were able to visit multiple static displays including many aircraft on the ground, various tents, and a special museum commemorating Mather’s 100th anniversary. The museum featured different paintings of the field’s history as well as aircraft that were stationed there and old military vehicles, suits, and weapons.
Flying activities kicked off at 11:00 am with opening ceremonies and the singing of the National Anthem with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team performing the flag jump. Later the team returned to the skies to perform a full aerial demonstration. Shortly after the ceremonies concluded, a rare formation flyby of a U-2 Dragon Lady and two T-38 Talons flew over from Beale Air Force Base.
There was a great lineup of aerobatic performers to see during the weekend. They included the world renowned Gene Soucy in his Grumman Showcat crop-duster biplane, Matt Younkin in his Beech 18, Redline Airshows in their two RV-8s, and Jeff Boerboon his Yak-110 which is a modified aircraft with two Yak-55 fuselages and a jet engine. This unusual plane also raced with the Shockwave Jet Truck and even flew in formation with a P-38 Lightning.
Multiple warbirds took to the skies to perform multiple passes as well as pyro runs. Among those aircraft included a P-51A and D Mustang, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, and B-17 Flying Fortress. In addition to the simulated demonstration, a P-38 Lightning performed a solo demonstration piloted by the legendary Mr. Steve Hinton.
The show featured a nice variety of military flyovers. Among those flyovers was a group of transports from Travis Air Force Base that included a C-17 Globemaster III, C-5M Super Galaxy, and KC-10 Extender. Also, a U.S. Coast Guard C-27J Spartan flew over which was locally based in Sacramento at McClellan Airport.
Another major military performance was the combined arms demonstration which included the very rare E-4B Nightwatch and the 144th Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle. The E-4B, known as the “Doomsday” aircraft, is a strategic command and control aircraft built from a Boeing 747 airframe. During the demonstration the F-15 played the role of defending allies by simulating an attack run on hostile targets. On Sunday, the performance featured two F-15s as well as the 75th anniversary bird which was piloted by the wing’s commander Lt. Col. Russ “Spicoli” Piggott who also served as the F-16 Viper West Demo pilot. The specially painted aircraft had just come out of the paint shop and made it’s first airshow appearance at Sacramento.
Representing the Royal Canadian Air Force was the CF-18 Hornet Demo Team piloted by Capt. Stefan “Porcelain” Porteous. Every year the team has a special theme, and this year’s was the 60th anniversary of NORAD. To pay tribute to the anniversary, the jet was painted in a full body dark blue scheme which included ribbons, swords, and globes. During the demonstration, Porcelain showcased the many capabilities of the CF-18 including a simulated attack run to conclude the performance.
One of the major highlights of the show was the U.S. Air Force F-35 Heritage Flight Team from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. This was the first time that the crowd from Sacramento got to witness the F-35 Lightning II perform over Mather. Piloting the jet was Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson who flew a mini demo before joining up with a P-38 Lightning for the Heritage Flight. The Heritage Flight is a rare flight consisting of Air Force fighters of past and present. This particular formation was very special because it featured the original Lightning as well as the newer second one.
Concluding the airshow was the United States Air Force aerial demonstration squadron known as the Thunderbirds, making their first appearance in Sacramento since 2015. The team, lead by Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh performed a fantastic routine with their six F-16 Fighting Falcons. Their demonstration included various formation flights, multiple solo passes, and tactical maneuvers that all Air Force fighter pilots are trained to do. When finished flying, the team arrived at the crowd line to meet fans and sign autographs.
After flying activities were finished, the crowd was able to visit the many different attractions that were offered on the ground. The 100 year anniversary of Mather Field by the 2018 California Capital Airshow was a huge success that did not disappoint. Special thanks to the organizers, volunteers, performers, spectators, and sponsors for making the show a success!
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
F-35 Heritage Flight Team
CF-18 Hornet Demo Team
U.S. Army Golden Knights
Fresno Air National Guard F-15C Eagles - 75th Anniversary Jet on Sunday
E-4B Nightwatch Flyby
Team Beale Flyby - U-2 Dragon Lady & x2 T-38 Talons - Saturday Only
Team Travis Flyby - C-17 Globemaster III, C-5M Super Galaxy, & KC-10 Extender
C-27J Spartan Flyby - Saturday Only
WWII Warbirds - P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightning, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, & B-17 Flying Fortress
Jeff Boerboon Yak-110 Aerobatics
Gene Soucy Grumman Showcat Aerobatics
Matt Younkin Beech 18 Aerobatics
Redline Airshows Aerobatics
Shockwave Jet Truck
F-15C Eagle - 144th Fighter Wing 75th Anniversary, Fresno ANGB, CA
F/A-18F Super Hornet - VFA-122 “Flying Eagles,” NAS Lemoore, CA
F-16A Fighting Falcon - Thunderbirds Recruiter
x2 F-5N Tiger II - VFC-13 “Saints,” NAS Fallon, NV
T-38A Talon - 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, CA
U-2 Dragon Lady - 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, CA
C-17A Globemaster III - 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, CA
C-5M Super Galaxy - 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, CA
KC-10A Extender - 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, CA
KC-135R Stratotanker - 940th Air Refueling Wing, Beale AFB, CA
C-130J Super Hercules - 146th Airlift Wing, NAS Point Mugu, CA
MQ-9 Reaper - 432d Wing, Creech AFB, NV
Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for