MCAS Miramar Air Show, September 28-30, 2018
|Location: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California
|Admission: Free, upgraded seating available
|Parking: Free, on-site with shuttles
|Rating out of 10: 8.5
The 2018 MCAS Miramar Airshow took place on September 28-30 celebrating 100 years of women in the U.S. Marine Corps. Headlining the show was a variety of performers including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerobatic team, the F-35B Lightning II, and the Marine Air Ground Task Force known as the MAGTF. Unlike previous years, this year’s show was arranged differently with grandstands and other seating options switched to opposite sides of the ramp as compared to the past. This was due to the construction plans for new hangars to be built for the F-35s which will be station at the base in the future.
Gates opened to the general public at 8:00am and spectators were able to visit multiple static aircraft and other displays on the ground as well as a variety of early morning aerial performances. Among those morning performers included John Collver in the SNJ Texan known as “War Dog,” Kent Pietsch in his Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet, Jacquie B in her Extra 300, Jon Melby in his Hangar 24 Pitts, Steve Stavrakakis in his Romanian IAR-823 known as “Wild Thing,” the Shockwave Jet Truck, and Powered Paraglider Flight Team.
Towards the later morning hours, the show featured some new performances that have not been featured at Miramar in a while. Those included a rare demonstration by the Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady based out of Beale Air Force Base, a single ship demo of a Miramar based MV-22 Osprey, and a WWII warbird reenactment with a P-51 Mustang, FM-2 Wildcat, T-28 Trojan, and T-6 Texan featuring pyrotechnics.
Opening ceremonies kicked off at noon with the singing of the National Anthem. During the anthem the U.S. Army Golden Knights and U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams jumped with the flags of the United States and other military branches while aboard the Blue Angels’ C-130 Hercules transport plane known as Fat Albert. This marked Fat Albert’s first appearance at Miramar in three years since multiple maintenance issues have grounded the aircraft from performing at recent airshows.
The show continued with a bang by featuring the popular Miramar Airshow demonstration known as the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). The MAGTF is a simulated air-to-ground Marine tactical demonstration which features many aircraft and ground forces depicting an actual battle situation. The demonstration featured many attack runs by F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harrier II’s, close air support and ground troop deployment by helicopters including the MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Viper, and UH-1Y Venom, and aerial refueling by a KC-130 Hercules.
One of the major aerial highlights was the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II STOVL stealth multirole fighter. The F-35B is the newest fighter in the U.S. Marine Corps inventory and is scheduled to replace the aging F/A-18 and AV-8B fighter aircraft in the near future. The demonstration flown by VMFA-122 known as the “Fighting Leathernecks,” showcased the incredible tactical maneuvers and hovering capabilities of the aircraft.
Coming towards the end of the show was the final Miramar solo performance by Sean D. Tucker. Sean Tucker is one of the most renowned aerobatic airshow performers in the world and thrills audiences in his Oracle Challenger II biplane. This year will mark his final airshow season doing solo aerobatics before he transitions to a display team featuring multiple aircraft. Sean concluded his aerial routine by performing the breathtaking ribbon cut near the end of the runway.
Concluding aerial activities was the United States Navy aerial demonstration squadron known as the Blue Angels. The Blue Angels are always a crowd pleaser at Miramar and showcase the precision maneuvers that all Navy and Marine Corps aviators are trained in. Their performance included multiple formations, solo opposing passes, and formation breaks. At the end of their demonstration, the team walked over to the crowd line where they had the opportunity to meet fans and sign autographs.
After the Blue Angels ended their routine, spectators were able to visit the many static displays offered on the ground before gates closed at 5:00 pm. Special thanks to the men and women of Miramar, sponsors, attendees, performers, volunteers, and organizers for making this year’s show a success!
U.S. Navy Blue Angels
F-35B Lightning II Demo
MV-22 Osprey Demo
Marine Air Ground Task Force
U.S. Army Golden Knights
U-2 Dragon Lady Flyby
Patriots Jet Team
Miramar Warbirds: P-51, FM-2, T-28, T-6
John Collver - SNJ Texan “War Dog”
Sean D Tucker Oracle Airshows
Jon Melby - Hangar 24 Pitts
Steve Stavrakakis Wild Thing
Kent Pietsch Interstate Cadet
Jacquie B Airshows
Powered Paraglider Flight Team
Shockwave Jet Truck
F-35B Lightning II - VMFA-122 “Fighting Leathernecks,” MCAS Yuma, AZ
F-35C Lightning II - VFA-125 “Rough Raiders,” NAS Lemoore, CA
F/A-18A+ Hornet - VMFAT-101 “Sharpshooters,” MCAS Miramar, CA
F/A-18C Hornet - VMFA-323 “Death Rattlers,” MCAS Miramar, CA
F/A-18C Hornet - VMFA-232 “Red Devils,” MCAS Miramar, CA
F/A-18C Hornet - VMFA-314 “Black Knights,” MCAS Miramar, CA
AV-8B Harrier II - VMA-311 “Tomcats,” MCAS Yuma, AZ
EA-18G Growler - VX-9 “Vampires,” NAWC China Lake, CA
Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for