2016 Event Review

California Capital Airshow 2016, October 1-2, 2016
Location: Sacramento Mather Airport, Rancho Cordova, CA
Admission: $30 for adults, $15 for children
Parking: $10 on site
Value: Very Good
Rating out of 10: 8.5
B-1B from Dyess AFB, Red Flag 16-1
U.S. Navy Blue Angels

The eleventh annual California Capital Airshow took place on October 1-2 with the United States Navy Blue Angels as the headline act for the first time since 2008. Joining the lineup included the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team and Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demo Team. The show also featured a wide variety of the different warbirds for the crowd to enjoy.

Prior to aerial activities, the crowd was able to visit static display aircraft which included lots of different military aircraft like the new F-35A Lightning II based out of Luke AFB and a rare U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane based out of Beale AFB. On Saturday, the weather was nice and sunny, but on Sunday it was more cloudy and rained for a few moments as the day went on.
Starting out the aerial show was the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team performing a demonstration during the opening ceremonies. The crowd at Mather got to witness the precision maneuvers by the Army sky jumpers as they performed various stunts with their parachutes. The team went back up in the air later during the show to showcase even more performances. Unlike previous years, this year featured only one aerobatic performance flown by Mike Wiskus in his Lucas Oil Pitts biplane. Joining him during his aerial display was Bill Braack in his Smoke 'n' Thunder Jet Car. The two raced across the runway and got excited spectators on their feet to see who would win. In the end, Wiskus won one of the races while Braack won the other.

During the warbird performances, the crowd got to witness some rare aircraft take to the skies. Starting out was the Navy Class featuring the F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, TBM Avenger, and PBJ Mitchell, the Navy variant of the B-25. As the warbird display continued, former aircraft of the Army Air Force took off including the very rare B-29 Superfortress "FiFi", P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, and 2 P-51 Mustangs. To conclude the spectacular demonstration, "FiFi" flew low over the runway for a very special bomb run featuring the Wall of Fire.

Along with the various warbirds that took to the skies, there were a couple great jet demonstrations. The first jet to fly at the show was the CF-18 Hornet piloted by Capt. Ryan "Roid" Kean. Every year the CF-18 is painted up in a special theme and this year's is the British Air Commonwealth Training Plan (BACTP). The jet featured a black and yellow scheme and showcased the tactical maneuvers it is capable of to the crowd. The second jet performer of the day was the F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Maj. Craig "Rocket" Baker. The F-16 Demo Team is based out of Shaw AFB and performs at over 20 different shows per year. Maj. Baker was able to showcase the tactical capabilities of the F-16, and also flew in the Heritage Flight featuring a P-51 Mustang. The Heritage Flight was a rare opportunity for spectators to witness a vintage warbird fly in formation with a modern day fighter.

Concluding the airshow was the United States Navy Blue Angels. Because flight leader Cdr. Bernacchi was dealing with food poisoning on Saturday, the team could not perform that day. On Sunday, Cdr. Bernacchi was well enough, and the Blue Angels were able to fly a full demonstration for the crowd. For the first time in eight years spectators got to witness the precision formation maneuvers and solo demonstrations that the team performs throughout the year. After their show, the crowd was able to meet the pilots and get autographs.
Despite the Blue Angels cancellation on Saturday, the 2016 California Capital Airshow was a success. The people who attended saw a wide variety of different aircraft in the air and on the ground. Thanks to the volunteers, staff, attendees, and performers for making this year's show a success.
Air Show Performers:

U.S. Navy Blue Angels (Saturday Performance Cancelled)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team & Heritage Flight

Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demo Team

U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team

U.S. Coast Guard C-27 Spartan Flyby (Saturday Only)

WWII Army Air Force Theatre: B-29 Superfortress "FiFi", 2 P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightning, & P-40 Warhawk

WWII Navy Theatre: F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, TBM Avenger, & PBJ Mitchell

Mike Wiskus & the Lucas Oil Pitts

Bill Braack & the Smoke 'n' Thunder Jet Car

Thunder Mustang Flyby (Sunday Only)

Static Displays:

2 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s - Luke AFB, AZ

2 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets - VFA-122 “Flying Eagles” & VFA-136 “Knighthawks”

Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady - Beale AFB, CA

Northrop T-38 Talon - Laughlin AFB, TX

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker - Beale AFB, CA
Lockheed C-5 Galaxy - Travis AFB, CA
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender - Travis AFB, CA

Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for

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