Saturday, June 09, 2007

Great Day for An Air Show

Today was the 2nd annual Capital Airshow, held again at the former Mather Air Force Base just east of Sacramento. Last year the marquee draw was the navy's Blue Angels, this year it was the air force Thunderbirds. The last time I saw the Thunderbirds perform was in 1978/79, also at Mather; they flew T-38's then.

Below are some pictures from the show. As always, click on an individual picture in order to enlarge it for better viewing.

Here are some "old school" aircraft, a U-2 and a T-38

A U-2 in flight

From left to right are an F-22 Raptor, a WW-II vintage P-51 Mustang, and an F-15E Strike Eagle. Note the size difference between the state-of-the-art over 60 years ago and today.

Here's another shot showing just how small a P-51 is when compared to an F-15.

A B-2 bomber, which should be known as the Batplane

Here's what everyone came to see today:

The Thunderbirds show didn't last long--from what I heard, one of them "ingested" a bird and had to land. After over 10 minutes of just sitting around, not seeing any Thunderbirds in the sky, thousands of people, my son and I included, headed for the exits. Later I could tell that the show had resumed, but by then the Thunderbirds had lost a lot of their coolness. I ran into a former student at the show, currently an Air Force Academy junior, who told me during an F-15 flyby, "No tank or Humvee will ever be that cool." He was correct. But no tank or Humvee will ever be put out of commission by a bird, either!

I so enjoy air shows.

Update, 6/10/07: From the major Sacramento newspaper:

The only hitch came in the air - not on the ground -- several minutes after the headlining United States Air Force Thunderbirds took to the skies at about 3:30 p.m. Within a few minutes, it was announced that the No. 6 jet had suffered a "bird strike" and had to be replaced.

The Thunderbirds, who have flown more than 4,000 aerial demonstrations since they were founded in 1953, know the airshow must go on. And it did, after a delay of about 20 minutes. The show finished up at about 4:30 p.m., about a half hour later than organizers had anticipated.


Thorndog said...

Ahh I didn't see you there! It's a shame you left early, if you stayed for five more minutes you would have witnessed some sweet formations and maneuvers not regularly executed by the Thunderbirds! The pyrotechnics were sweet with that Strike Eagle, and it's true, you can't beat that! The F-22A Raptor was by far the best demo there, with its thrust vectoring and extreme maneuverability, the baddest bird in the sky!

Darren said...

It's a good thing they're ours, because I was an air defender, and IF IT FLIES, IT DIES!

Chanman said...

Great photos. When my kids get a little older, I plan on attending this air show, assuming it is still in operation.

Loved the juxtaposition shot of the Mustang, the Raptor, and the Eagle. Amazing: our fighters of today are the size of the medium bombers of World War II.

Thorndog said...

So I just had to go another day (this time for free!), so I did, and it was totally worth it! I met with all of the Thunderbirds throughout the day, talked with them, and got their autographs on a big T-birds flag hanging up in my room now. I was talking with the #6 jet, Maj. Samantha Weeks, and she told me that the bird strike from Saturday didn't go into the engine, but rather hit the canopy, and they didn't want to risk flying it for the duration of the show. Awesome day for an air show, definitely one of my best!

P.S. in that first photo you have displayed, that "F-5" is actually a T-38 Talon, but is pretty much the two-seater version of the F-5.

Darren said...

You're right, it *is* a T-38. I should have looked more closely.

And it was Fifi that got hit, huh?

Darren said...

Corrected that incorrect F-5 label