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2012 Air Shows

MCAS Miramar Air Show, October 12-14, 2012

Location: MCAS Miramar, San Diego, California
Admission: FREE
Parking: Free on-site
MCAS Miramar held its annual Air Show October 12-14, 2012, featuring two jet demonstration teams, full tactical demonstrations from the F/A-18 Super Hornet, AV-8B Harrier II, MV-22 Osprey and the F-22A Raptor, warbirds, several civilian aerobatic performers, multiple parachute teams, and the Marine Air-Ground Task Force assault demonstration (MAGTF). Seven hours of flying each day, a night show on Saturday, and almost a mile of tarmac filled with aircraft on static display made for a very long and busy weekend. This show does not disappoint, which is why well over half a million visitors attend the air show every year.
The gates opened promptly at 0800 and visitors were quickly and efficiently directed to on-base parking, shuttled to the show and processed through security checks. The first thing one sees after passing through one of the three main gates is the massive array of aircraft and ground vehicles on static display. There is plenty of free open seating at both ends of the long flightline; there are bleachers, box seats and chalets for a fee. With three full days of flying, there is ample opportunity to enjoy the show from multiple vantage points. A 300mm lens is more than enough to fill the frame most of the time. The layout of the runways (06/24) means that you will be shooting into the sun pretty much all day. This year, for the first time in show history, a small group of media was allowed to photograph the show from the opposite side of the runway. ASR was privileged to be among them, enabling us to provide a view of the show never seen before.
The flying schedule was the same each day, with the morning being devoted to civilian acts and the military performing in the afternoon. Sean D. Tucker began the day with a teaser in the Oracle Challenger III to wake up the audience with his incredible maneuvers and performed his full show later in the afternoon. The Silver Wings Wingwalking team then slowed things down a bit, with Margaret Stivers performing on the wings of the Stearman piloted by Hartley Folstad. Dan Buchanan followed with his graceful hang glider performance. The B-25N Mitchell “Executive Sweet” then put on a nice demonstration, which was followed by the Navy Trainer Parade, featuring PT-17 Stearmans, PT-22 Recruits, an SNJ, a T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentors and Greg “Wired” Collyer in his T-33 “Ace Maker.” This was followed by two solo trainer demos: the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II, and then John Collver in his AT-6 Texan “War Dog.” Mike Wiskus then thrilled the crowds with his high-energy aerobatic maneuvers in the bright red Lucas Oil Pitts S-1 biplane. The Red Bull Air Force then took to the skies, with demonstrations by Chuck Aaron in the helicopter, Kirby Chambliss in the Edge 540, and the parachutists in their squirrel suits. Bret Willat then put on an impressive glider display. The Patriots Jet Team ended the morning with their six-ship performance. Their distinctive colored smoke stood out particularly well against the clouds on Friday. The afternoon started off with the Golden Knights and Leap Frogs flying in the colors. Soon the skies were filled with a multitude of aircraft as the MAGTF began. Two KC-130J Hercules tankers passed overhead, the first refueling two pairs of Harriers and Hornets, the next trailing two CH-53s. The Hornets and Harriers then made several high-speed strafing and bombing passes, accompanied by loud and showy pyrotechnics. The Hueys then appeared, fast-roping Marines to the ground, covered all the while by darting Cobras. Two Ospreys made a high-speed pass, transitioned to hovering flight, then descended to deliver their loads of infantry. They were soon followed by three CH-46E Sea Knights and three CH-53E Super Stallions, one with a Humvee dangling below it. From show right soon appeared an armored column led by two M1A1 Abrams tanks and followed by several LAV-25s and Humvees. Two final passes by the Hornets and Harriers, each accompanied by a wall of fire, ended the assault demo.
Four full tactical demonstrations by individual aircraft ensued: “Schadow”Schantz in the USAF F-22 Raptor (followed by the Heritage Flight with Kevin Eldridge flying the P-51D Mustang “Wee Willy II”), LT Jeff "Lou" Findlay of VFA-122 "Flying Eagles" from NAS Lemoore in the Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet, and the Marines of VMM-163 “Evil Eyes” flying the MV-22 Osprey and the AV-8B Harrier II from VMA-516 “Flying Nightmares.” Then it was time for the headline act: the Blue Angels. Fat Albert warmed up the crowd with the usual steep climb-out, several fast passes, and the tactical landing. The Blue Angels put on their full high show, delighting the huge crowds which had by now filled the bleachers and flightline seating areas. After the Blue Angels landed and debriefed, they approached the flight line at show right to sign autographs and interact with their delighted fans. Spectators had about two hours to view the statics or visit some of the many displays before the grounds were cleared on Friday and Sunday or before the action resumed on Saturday. There were enough food and beer stands that lines were never a real issue. In addition to souvenir stands, each of the base units also had booths selling unit memorabilia such as patches and coins. In addition to the usual climbing walls and bounce houses there was a number of carnival amusement rides for the kids.
Saturday’s Night Show featured aerial performances by Sean D. Tucker, Bret Willat, Steve Stavrakakis in his Romanian IAR and Dan Buchanan. The Golden Knights flew in the flag at sunset as two Marine buglers played Taps. After darkness fell, an F/A-18 took off with full military power and performed a number of afterburner passes. The night show ended with a fireworks display and the Great Wall of Fire. What a way to end an incredible day!
The media coverage of this air show is phenomenal, with Marines providing real-time video streams, uploads to DVIDS and posts to Twitter and Facebook. Maj Carl Redding, Public Affairs Director, has made amazing things happen, and we would like to sincerely thank him and all the members of his team for a fantastic and memorable experience covering the Air Show. In particular, we would like to thank Cpl Posy for his tireless efforts arranging and organizing media access, especially Saturday’s trip to the other side of the runway. Thursday was a dedicated Media Day, with photographers and reporters invited to ride with performers and interview pilots and ground crews. Over 50 rides were arranged for both media and Marines. Finally, we would like to thank all the Marines, volunteers and performers at MCAS Miramar for making this Air Show such a success.
Performers included:
  • USN Blue Angels
  • USN F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-122 “Flying Eagles”, NAS Lemoore, TacDemo
  • USMC MV-22 Osprey VMM-163 “Evil Eyes”, MCAS Miramar, TacDemo
  • USMC AV-8B Harrier VMA-513 “Flying Nightmares”, MCAS Yuma, TacDemo
  • USAF F-22 Raptor Tactical Demonstration, TacDemo
  • USAF Heritage Flight: P-51D Mustang “Wee Willy II” and F-22 Raptor
  • The Patriots Jet Team
  • Aerobatics
    • Mike Wiskus, Lucas Oil Pitts S-1
    • Sean D. Tucker, Oracle Challenger III
    • Dan Buchanan, Hang Glider
    • John Collver, AT-6 “War Dog”
    • Beechcraft T-6C
  • Trainer Parade: PT-17 Stearmans, PT-22 Recruits, SNJ, T-28, T-34s, T-33
  • Golden Knights and Leap Frogs Parachute Teams
  • Bill Braack, Smoke-and-Thunder Jet Car
  • MAGTF Assault Demonstration
    • F/A-18C Hornet (x2) VMFA-232 "Red Devils"
    • F/A-18D Hornet of VMFAT-101 "Sharpshooters"
    • AV-8B Harrier II (x2) VMA-513 "Flying Nightmares"
    • KC-130J Hercules (x2) VMGR-352 "Raiders"
    • MV-22 Osprey (x2) VMM-166 "White Knights"
    • CH-53E Super Stallion (x3) HMH-466 "Wolfpack" & HMH-462 "Heavy Haulers"
    • CH-46E Sea Knight (x3) HMM-268 "Red Dragons"
    • AH-1Z Super Cobra (x2) HMLA-267 "Stingers"
    • UH-1Y Super Huey (x2) HMLA-267 "Stingers"
    • M1A1 Abrams Tanks, LAV-25s, Humvees, towed artillery

Static displays included:

  • B-1B Lancer “Bones”, Dyess AFB
  • B-52H Stratofortress (x2) “Black Widow”, Minot AFB, “FDNY We Remember”, Barksdale AFB
  • Panavia Tornado (x2) Luftwaffe, Holloman AFB
  • E-6B Mercury, TACAMO
  • Many Marine & Navy F/A-18 Hornets, Legacy and Super, including CAG birds
  • Many AV-8B Harriers and MV-22 Ospreys, including CAG birds
  • Marine and Navy F-5 Tiger II Aggressors from MCAS Yuma and NAS Fallon
  • MH-65C Dolphin USCG Los Angeles 25th Anniversary Livery
  • Several CoNA aircraft
  • Multiple Navy & Marine helicopters: AH-1Z, UH-1Y, CH-46E, CH-53E, MH-60
  • Tankers: Marine KC-130Js, USAF KC-135
  • Multiple Trainers: TC-12Bs, T-34Cs (including NASA), T-45s, T-38
  • Multiple Warbirds
  • Ground Vehicles of all types, including Humvees, LAVs, MRAPs, combat construction equipment, M1A1 Abrams tanks, UAV launcher
Rating: 10 out of 10

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