Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Blues

I went to the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show today. Man, that was fun. I haven't seen the Blues perform since I was a kid, so it was great seeing them in action again.

Oh, and the "sneak pass" is still the absolute shizzle. That's where Blues 1 through 4 complete one of their formation maneuvers and start drifting off to the side. The announcer comes on, saying, "Watch how the foursome rearranges itself into the diamond formation..." Of course you're looking at the four fading off into the distance.

But then, right when you've been misdirected, a Blue Angel soloist comes hurtling down the runway opposite from where you're looking, afterburners on, startling the hell out of everyone. At the same time, the other Blue Angel soloist roars in from behind the crowd, over your head, kicking those involuntary "hit the deck" reflexes into gear. It drives everyone wild, especially if you've never seen it before.

Here's a YouTube vid of it from last year's show:

Anyways, it was a great show.

There were three aerobatic performances by Red-Bull Air Race-type aircraft, including an Extra 300L and an MX. Hammerhead stalls, wingovers, precision rolls, Immelmans, Cuban eights, and more were executed with extreme precision. However, my favorite aerobatic maneuver of them all is the Lomcevak, which is a Czech work that means "hangover".

Watch this video to see why:

I'd heard about that maneuver, but never seen it in person. As a pilot, it just makes me crazy. I mean, that's a little above and beyond unusual attitude training in a Cessna 172! :)

There were also a couple of military demonstrations from an F/A-18F and an F-16, which concluded in a very nice heritage flight with a P-51/F-16 combo. The F/A-18F is a sweet machine, much more impressive than its C-model predecessor, and the F-16 is certainly a treat to watch. However, having been to both the Paris and Farnborough air shows, I miss seeing the Sukhois and MiGs. For me, an air show is no longer complete without seeing at least a Pugachev cobra maneuver or a tail slide.

Picture Show

I shot nearly two hours worth of video, which I'll edit over the next couple of days down to a couple minutes of highlghts. In the meantime here's a few of the still pics I took around the show.

(Click each one to view it full-size)

Blue Angel Number 5: Engines are started and she's ready to roll. Her crew chief stands in front and a crewman kneels behind each wingtip.

Blue Angels Panorama: All six BA's lined up awaiting their pilots.
C-5 Galaxy: The world's largest umbrella.
T-6 Texan II: A very large percentage of our traffic consists of flocks of these little guys. It's a very powerful aircraft, with a top speed of over 300 knots and a 35,000 foot service ceiling. These guys can fly circles around the old T-34's they're replacing, which makes it really interesting when we get T-6's from NAS Pensacola in the same pattern as the T-34's from NAS Whiting.

Panavia Tornado: A very powerful swing-wing fighter-bomber flown by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. To quote the Volkswagen ad: "Representin' Deutschland, yo!"


Anonymous said...

Talk about just missing each other! I was working at that military aircraft poster booth just a little closer to the front and off the left side of the C5-A. The Blue Angels, Fat Albert, wall o' fire, the Red Baron plane, etc etc etc... man I can't wait until next year! :D

-Scott Brady

Wicked Penguin said...

Dude, you were there? Yesterday? I walked by that booth a bunch of times. Either you're shitting me or I need to get my eyes checked!

Anonymous said...

How many fingers am I holding up? :)

My older brother and I were working that booth all day long. Small world. Ah well, catch you next year buddy!