2017 Event Review

California International Airshow, September 30-October 1, 2017
Location: Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California
Admission: $20 Adult, $15 Children, $18 Senior, upgraded seats available
Parking:$10 on-site
Value:Very Good
Rating out of 10: 8
Visitors to the RNZAF Air Tattoo

RCAF Gonzo

The 37th annual California International Airshow took place at Salinas Municipal Airport on September 30 and October 1, 2017. This year's show featured the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor as the headlining act along with other performers including the Canadian CT-142 Dash known as "Gonzo."

Gates opened at 9:00 am and attendees were able to visit the different static aircraft and tents on display. Due to the hurricane relief efforts on the East Coast, many of the aircraft that were planned to be on static display including a C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy could not make it to the show. This resulted in a lot of empty space on the static ramp compared to previous shows held.


Flying activities officially kicked of at noon with the opening ceremonies featuring the National Anthem. Once the ceremonies finished, air show performers took to the sky. There was a good amount of aerobatic acts that participated including Sean D Tucker in his Oracle Challenger III who flew on Saturday only, Vicky Benzing in her red Boeing Stearman, Bill Stein in his specially painted Edge 540, and Kent Pietsch in his Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet who performed a comedy routine, truck top landing, and dead stick landing with the propeller shut off.

The show featured a nice variety of warbirds in the flying lineup. Gregory "Wired" Colyer performed a solo routine in his Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star known as "Ace Maker II." There were also WWII flights that included a European Theatre featuring seven North American P-51 Mustangs and a Pacific Theatre which featured the rare Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, Nakajima B5N Kate replica, and two North American T-6 Texans.

A few rare military flybys also pleased the crowd. Coming from McClellan Airfield in Sacramento was the U.S. Coast Guard C-27J Spartan which flew a couple passes before returning to home base. Something more special that took to the skies was the Canadian Forces CT-142 Dash known as "Gonzo," which put on a very rare aerial performance in the United States with multiple passes

Concluding the flying portion of the show was the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor flown by Maj. Dan "Rock" Dickinson. The F-22 Demo Team staged out of Monterey Regional Airport for the show due to the shorter runway at Salinas and "Rock" showcased the many capabilities of the jet with high speed passes, tight turns, and flips. Due to the high humidity, plenty of vapor was present as the F-22 performed it's demonstration. Unfortunately, the Saturday performance was cut short after the flat spin due to a mechanical issue with the jet. After the F-22 routine came the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight which featured past and present fighters of the Air Force in formation together. Saturday featured the A-10 Thunderbolt II and P-51 Mustang and Sunday featured the F-22, A-10, and P-38 Lightning.

After the flying activities finished, spectators were able to continue viewing the static aircraft and tents on display. Special thanks to the organizers, volunteers, performers, and spectators for making the 2017 California International Airshow a success!

Flying display participants:

F-22 Raptor Demo Team (Saturday performance cut short)
U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight - A-10 & P-51 Saturday & F-22, A-10, & P-38 Sunday
U.S. Coast Guard C-27J Spartan Flyby
Royal Canadian Air Force CT-142 Dash “Gonzo” Flyby
Sean D Tucker Oracle Challenger III (Saturday only)
Gregory “Wired” Colyer T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker II”
WWII European Flight - x7 P-51 Mustangs
WWII Pacific Flight - PV-2 Harpoon, B5N “Kate,” & x2 T-6 Texans
Vicky Benzing Stearman Aerobatics
Bill Stein Edge 540
Kent Pietsch Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet
“The Beast” Jet Car

Static aircraft

Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon Mock-Up
HC-130P Hercules, 129th Rescue Wing, Moffett Field, CA
CH-124 Sea King, 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, Vancouver Island, BC
x7 P-51 Mustangs
L-39 Albatross

Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for

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