Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yuma Arizona: Yuma Air Show

I woke up this morning with my left knee on fire and my left hand painfully locked up. Nothing different here. If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. A little stretching and working the offending joints and I soon felt better. On the plus side, it was a bit cool but, as usual, there wasn't a cloud in the Yuma sky.

Wrong Turn and KT were heading off today for a few days visiting KT's sister in Tucson. We are hoping to get a day of riding in with them there after we leave here on Monday. We said our goodbyes and then Sherm took Sandy and I to Brownie's for breakfast. Brownie's is the consistent winner of the "Yuma Best Breakfast" award. We were served by a young lady who can only be described as "bubbly". My biscuits were the lightest and fluffiest I have ever had.

Brownie's Restaurant - Yuma Arizona

The most recent award

My breakfast

Sherm's breakfast

Sandy's food

The gates of the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma opened at 8:30 AM. We left at 10:00 but found, when we got into a very slow moving line on Old US 80 with a mile to go to the gate, that we weren't going to make it inside. There were many people parked on the north side of 80 but we saw a few empty spots and changed our plans, making a U-turn getting the car into an open spot.

Our original spot along Old US 80

People still lined up trying to get into the MCAS

MCAS Yuma sign

Sherm called his friend Bill and found they were set up just down the road from us so we walked a quarter mile or so and found two Oregon vehicles, one with Bill and his wife Barb and the other with two of their friends, both named Richard.

Sherm talking to Bill on the phone as we look for him

Parachutists drifting down

Barb, Bill, Sherm and the two Richards

While we were walking back to the car, Bill called to say someone had pulled out next to them and they were guarding the space. I went back to Bill's location while Sherm got the car and the ladies and brought them to the new spot. We only had to turn one vehicle away while we were waiting for them. As we sat anticipating the first aircraft, ice cream vendors worked their way up and down the row.

Barb gets ice cream

Patiently waiting

The first aircraft to come over was an A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as a Warthog. This ground support aircraft capable of heavy armament went through a number of low level maneuvers.

A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)

Next up were the Commemorative (formerly Confederate) Air Force Arizona and California Wings. I was sorry to see the name change that I assume was to make it more politically correct. The Arizona Wing launched a B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-25 Mitchell. The California wing brought a P-51 Mustang, a British Spitfire Mark XIV, a Navy F6F Hellcat and F8F Bearcat, some version of Japanese Zero and a T6 Texan trainer (known in Canada as a Harvard).

After a series of fly-byes, the two navy fighters engaged the Zero in a mock dogfight. No one was taking bets on who would win.

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-25 Mitchell

The B-25 leads the fighters in a flyby (note the Zero way down at the bottom)


The Zero was always smoking

Me studying the program

Next up, the Marines demonstrated a Search and Rescue operation using a UH-1 helicopter. It searched the base, found it's target and hoisted him up via a cable and winch.

UH-1 pulling up the rescued person

The next flyby was a flight of four F-5 Tiger II aircraft. This 1960's vintage jet fighter is flown by a reserve squadron out of Yuma and is the Marine Corps only Aggressor Squadron, the force that plays the enemy in battle exercises. We didn't get any photos because they were in and out too fast.

The next aircraft was the Harrier II. This VTOL fighter, a Marine Corps version of the famous British Jump Jet, did a high speed pass and then returned with gear down to hover over the runway. It landed vertically, then took off straight up, transitioned into level flight and zoomed away.

AV-8B Harrier II

Harrier hovering over the runway

Harrier transitioning to level flight

Oohs and Aahs from the assembled multitudes

Next up was a private T-33 Shooting Star doing aerobatic maneuvers. This type first flew in 1948 and I can remember the Red Knight Canadian aerobatic aircraft the flew with the Golden Hawks when I was a kid.

T-33 Shooting Star

We were surprised by an F/A-18 Hornet that launched from the runway with the wind and proceeded to go through a series of agile maneuvers using its vectoring thrusters. It was so maneuverable we thought for a while that we were watching an F-22 Raptor but the wing designs are totally different. I hadn't realized that the F-18 could move like that. After the slow antics, the Hornet made a few high speed flybys including one where he cracked the afterburners right over our heads.

F/A-18 Hornet

Then a second Hornet joined the first and the CAS launched the two WW II Navy warbirds, the Hellcat and Bearcat. They formed up and made a complete circuit of the field. This year commemorates one hundred years of naval aviation.

The old and the new

For the finale, they launched pairs of every helicopter on base plus two C-130 Hercules and two V-22 Osprey. They aircraft made passes in various configurations.

The aircraft were all up and proceeded to fly over in various groups.

Hercules set to fuel two Super Stallions


Hercules set to fuel two Harriers


Sea Knights

Osprey hovering

Super Stallion carrying a HumVee

One tip. Don't be in a dusty place when a lot of helicopters are flying over. After the show, about 3:00 PM, the eight of us decided to go to Olive Garden. Unfortunately, the wait was going to be about 25 minutes for a table and the others had to get back to their campsite in Quartzite tonight so we said our goodbyes. The four of us stayed and, after a brief wait, had the soup, salad and bread stick special, served by a cheery young lady named Maria Elena. On the way back to the park, we stopped and bought a few essential groceries.

It was a quiet evening. I managed to get the Slab City blogs finished and then read my Robert Jordan book for a while before going to bed.

1 comment:

DougD said...

Makes you wonder how they stay up there flying!
Nice to see people still care about the men and women that fly these planes in combat and for us normal people!
Enjoy and marvel at all that is this great world.