2010 Westfield International Air Show – Barnes Municipal Airport
Home to the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, the Barnes Municipal Airport is a thriving joint-use facility in the western part of the Bay State. Hosts to the 2010 Westfield International Air Show, the Wing has always presented an event that brings their ANG family together; a somewhat noisy celebration of flight that is full of spirited performances by the locals and visitors alike! The 104th flies F-15Cs, and is constantly swapping out some of their older airframes for newer blocks from active Air Force squadrons. There were 5 “new” jets parked in a row away from most of the static display without the familiar “MA” on the tail yet, so new they were. Two of these sported green MiG kill stars too.
The show contained a host of civilian performers: Greg Poe, Dan Buchanan, Mike Goulian, Rob Holland, Red Eagles, John Klatt, Geico Skytypers, the pair of Jet Outhouse/Jet Bus display, and the Tora! Tora! Pyro Show. The static display was well attended, with some 30 aircraft ranging from a TBM-3E Avenger, Canadian CF-18 Hornet, F-15E Strike Eagles, and a KC-135R from neighboring New Hampshire, to numerous civilian aircraft.
There were lots of modern military aircraft that flew: 4 Barnes based F-15s, a pair of Burlington Vermont based F-16s, two Selfridge Michigan based A-10s, and the West Coast F-16C and East Coast F-18C teams. An Altus Oklahoma C-17 put on a stirring performance, and the Golden Knights dropped in too. The Thunderbirds were the featured performers
I spent most of my time during the show in the Warbird area. Although they are on static display for a large part of the show, the aircraft are “tactically” roped off, and towed out beyond the crowd line prior to their flying part of the show. The action is up close and personal, with lots of exhaust fumes from jets and piston engines in the air. They’re towed back to their parking/static display area after shutting down too. The cool thing is that the air and ground crew members are readily accessible to talk to, and take the time to do lots of it. World War II aircraft from a pair of Long Island NY museums; Warbirds Over Long Island and the American Airpower Museum, graced the skies with a P-47, P-51, and C-47, and B-25 “Panchito” served as focus for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) road show. Freedom’s Flying Memorial’s UH-34D helicopter served in the Viet Nam war, and flew again to the delight of the crowd.
I have to be honest though, my favorite of all of the aircraft present over the weekend was Dean Cutshall’s North American F-100F Super Sabre. The only F-100 still current and airworthy (reportedly there’s another F-100F and a F-100D that could be flown in the US, but they’re not currently certified) flew during Saturday’s show, but it got rained out on Sunday. The type was operated by the Air Guard at Barnes through the 1970’s, and Dean’s ‘Hun brought many veterans to the show to experience the aircraft’s sights and sounds again. That single stage afterburner is quite an attention-getter!
The weather deteriorated from the start of the weekend through to the end… Friday was beautifully clear, and most of Sunday was rained out. Saturday was overcast but dry, and somewhere near 200,000 spectators overwhelmed the local area. There was a 20-mile back-up reported on I-90/the Mass Pike, and parking lots were filled well before the Thunderbirds flew at 3PM, effectively closing the gates and sending many frustrated folks away. Even the rainy Sunday had a reported 50,000 spectators. Western Massachusetts was hungry for an air show, and the Barnes show offered up plenty of high calorie satisfaction.
Story and photos by Ken Kula 8/2010