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2013 Air Shows

California International Air Show, September 21-22, 2013

Location:Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California
Admission: Adult: $20.00, Child: $15.00, Senior: $18.00, online discounts available
Parking: $10 on-site
Value: Very Good
The 33rd annual California International Air Show took place September 21-22, 2013 in Salinas, California. Although diminished from years past, the air show provided a little bit of something for almost all attendees; except, of course, for fans of current military hardware. This show has always been able to attract a good number and large variety of military aircraft, including the headline jet demonstration teams. However, because of the Congressional budget cuts known as sequestration, military aircraft were almost completely missing this year. Luckily our allies to the north were able to send three aircraft currently serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Jet noise was provided by the Patriots Jet Team and aerial demonstrations by two jet warbirds. Three premiere acts provided lots of aerobatic action and Robosaurus and Metal Mulisha provided entertainment for the transformer and motorcycle enthusiasts.
The weather on Saturday was unfortunately overcast with light rain at times, which grounded a number of acts. Sunday made up for it with crystal clear skies, light breezes and temperatures in the high 60’s. The opening ceremonies featured a flag jump by Melissa and Rex Pemberton bringing in the national flags of the USA and Canada. John Collver started the aerobatic flying of the day in his beautifully choreographed display of the graceful handling characteristics of the North American AT-6 Texan. Painted in the markings of a trainer based at MCAS El Toro, “War Dog” is flown in a tribute to honor the men and women serving today and in the past. He was followed by Greg Colyer flying another warbird trainer. “Wired” flies a similarly graceful routine, but at much higher speeds, in his Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. Whether down on the deck, looping high in the sky, performing the dirty pass or speeding past in the photo pass, Greg puts “Ace Maker” through its paces, showing off the fighter heritage of this Korean War vintage plane.
Then it was time for Sean D. Tucker to take to the skies in his Oracle Challenger III biplane. Brilliantly narrated by Brian Norris, his routine has to be seen to be believed. Sean has received all of the industry’s highest honors and was named as one of the Living Legends of Flight. A native of Salinas, he clearly enjoys performing for the hometown crowd. Sunday’s performance began with an opening series of snap-rolls on the vertical down line and finished with his signature triple-ribbon cut. Randy Howell brought us back to the Jet Age with a very spirited demonstration in the MiG-17. This swept-wing fighter from the late 50’s was the first Soviet fighter to feature an afterburner. The bright red aircraft stood out clearly against the blue skies on Sunday afternoon, but the grey skies of Saturday highlighted the incredibly long afterburner flames. It was a real treat to see this aircraft back in the air and on the air show circuit after a very long hiatus. The Pembertons then performed again: Rex jumping in his wingsuit while Melissa circled him in her Zivko Edge 540. After Rex deployed his parachute and landed, Melissa put on a terrific display of the characteristics which made the Edge 540 the most common aircraft used in the Red Bull Air Race World. Appearing for the first time at Salinas, she amazed the crowds with her precision maneuvers which included an inverted ribbon cut. A break in the flying action was then provided by Robosaurus, a real-life transformer. This 30-ton fire-breathing mechanical monstrosity had earlier in the day put on a teaser performance along with the motorcycle demonstration team Metal Mulisha, but it now put on its full show culminating in the crushing and burning of a car. For some it is an opportunity to rush forward to catch all of the action, for others it is the time to grab a beer or something to eat. The flying resumed with Michael Goulian in the Extra 330SC. This aerobatic powerhouse differs from his previous aircraft, the Extra 300, primarily in the wing design, giving him an increased roll rate of 420 degrees per second. This can lead to “wing blur” in photos of Michael during his snap rolls and tumbles. His fast, aggressive style of flying clearly awed the crowds. The headline act this year was the Patriots Jet Team. Featuring ex-members of the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels and Snowbirds, the Patriots bring the same level of skill and precision to their presentation as those military jet demonstration teams. Flying high-performance L-39 jets, this premiere civilian-owned aerobatic jet team put on an incredible show. Their red, white and blue smoke system left colorful trails in the sky, tracing out the course of their maneuvers and adding an additional dimension to their performance.
There were far fewer aircraft on static display this year, due primarily to the absence of active US military participants. However, the RCAF came through with three trainers; the CT-142 Dash-8 of 402 "City of Winnipeg" Squadron from Winnipeg, the CT-156 Harvard II of the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) 15 Wing from Moose Jaw, and the CT-155 Hawk of NFTC 4 Wing from Cold Lake. It was a real pleasure to see these aircraft and talk with the crews. A number of warbirds were also on hand, including a Douglas C-47 and DC-4 to mark the 65th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. A beautiful Shorts Tucano and a recently restored Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon were among the highlights.
Parking and security at the gates were handled very efficiently by the scores of highly motivated and eager volunteers. In fact, nearly 2000 volunteers are involved in all aspects of the air show. There are numerous food booths and beer gardens set up on the grounds, along with a dedicated Kid’s Zone. Space to set up chairs along the flightline is limited but 10,000 chairs, vast arrays of bleachers and various box seats and chalets are available for additional fees. The air show box layout makes photography somewhat difficult, as the aircraft are backlit for a good part of the day, but the action takes place fairly close to the stands. Danny “Sky Talker” Clisham was back as narrator. “Mister Hollywood” paired up with long-time announcer Jim Vanderzwaan to keep the spectators informed and entertained. Air Boss Willie Turner kept the acts moving and the performers on schedule
More than just an air show, this is one of the premier fundraising events in the area, having contributed more than $8 million to a wide variety of local charities since 1983, and having an effect lasting well beyond the last echoes of the jets off the Gabilan Mountains. This community charity program has been so successful that it is known as “The Salinas Plan.” The ICAS Academy even sends event organizers from around the world to Salinas as part of their educational awareness program. The absence of any active US military participation this year was clearly noticeable. Both the performer list and the static line up was less than in years past, but the execution of the air show itself was, as always, first-class. AirShowsReview would like to thank the organizers, staff and all the volunteers for putting on such a great show.
Performers included:
  • The Patriots Jet Team
  • Randy Howell, MiG-17
  • John Collver, AT-6 Texan “War Dog”
  • Greg “Wired” Colyer, Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star “Ace Maker”
  • Michael Goulian, Extra 330SC
  • Sean D. Tucker, Oracle Challenger III
  • Melissa Pemberton, Edge 540
  • Rex Pemberton Wing Suit Jump
Static displays included:
  • RCAF CT-155 Hawk
  • RCAF CT-156 Harvard II
  • RCAF CT-142 Dash-8
  • Douglas DC-4
  • Douglas C-47
  • North American B-25J Mitchell “Old Glory”
  • Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
  • Shorts Tucano
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
Review and photography by Norman A. Graf for ASR MEDIA LLC.
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