Crowned Wings

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The Blue Angel pilots started training at a base like this long before arriving to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL. While they we’re heading the show at Naval Air Station Kingsville 2-3 April 2022, the US Navy continues to train future Marine and Navy tactical jet pilots year-round. NAS Kingsville (Est 1941 as Naval Auxiliary Air Station) is located in Corpus Christi, in southern Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.

NAS Corpus Christi became the first flying training base in the area in 1941 (it wouldn’t be but months later that NAS Kingsville came to be). The city’s name means body of Christ in Ecclesiastical Latin, in reference to the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion. The name was given to the settlement and surrounding bay by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1519, as he discovered the lush semitropical bay on the Western Christian feast day of Corpus Christi. While there has been a lot of history made there, an interesting bit is that Former President George H.W. Bush was the youngest pilot to graduate — graduating in June 1943 and commissioned just three days before his 19th birthday. Currently NAS Corpus Christi flies the T-6B Texan II, and twin-engine T-44C Pegasus aircraft.

Kingsville’s origins came from the need for an efficient railroad service connecting Brownsville to St. Louis. Captain Richard King’s wife, Henrietta, set aside a portion of the famed King Ranch to be available for development. Half of the designated land was opened for purchase and the other half was to be deeded for construction of the railroad. A town was developed three miles east of the King Ranch and the community of Kingsville was officially founded in 1904. The King Ranch, still an operational cattle ranch, was founded in 1853, when Captain Richard King purchased land that was once part of the Rincon de Santa Gertrudis Mexican Land Grant. People who worked the ranch became some of Texas’s first cowboys (the Kineños). The ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island! The base (becoming an NAS in ’68), like the city, is named after Capt King.

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NAS Kingsville flies the T-45C aircraft like NAS Meridian, MS and NAS Pensacola, FL and graduates about 150 students annually. In 2005, they upgraded from the A to the C model which replaces the earlier aircraft’s analog cockpit with digital systems. The Goshawk replaced the T-2 Buckeye and TA-4 Skyhawk jet trainers. The aircraft is not armed, but has a single pylon installed under each wing for carrying bomb racks, rocket pods or auxiliary fuel tanks. A single baggage pod can also be carried on the centerline pylon. A gun sight is fitted in the rear cockpit. A four-ship flyby of home-station T-45Cs from squadron VT-22 -The Golden Eagles opened the show after the Star-Spangled Banner.

The following performers flew at the airshow:

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Canadian performer, Kyle Fowler of Go EZ Aerobatics. Crude Moto builds the Darc 920 – a bizarre looking yellow wing piece that looks like some combination of a Klingon and Star Wars spaceship with a prop.

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Mr. Fowler had a very unique demo with Cody Elkins on the motorcross bike performing the jumping stunt maneuvers! When asked about the jumping distance, Mr. Kohut stated that the spacing was 62 ft but the length of the inflatable receiving ramp allows room to land out to 75ft. I believe that varied length of landing also has to do with the maneuver he is performing in the air.

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The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Command Exhibition Parachute Team, commonly known as the Silver Wings, is the official demonstration parachute team of Fort Benning, Georgia. Formed in 1965 by the director of the Airborne Dept, they represent the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE), 1/507 PIR Airborne School, the US Army, while demonstrating the freefall capabilities of today’s airborne forces. Team members (a qualified parachutist) are from a variety of units on Ft. Benning with both military and civilian parachuting/freefall experience. The freefall involved 5 jumpers with a solo jumper opening the show.

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USAF F-35A demo team flew a decent demo with humid conditions allowing for some sweet vapor. The Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine produces 43K of thrust! Internal fuel capacity is only about 500lbs more than the max payload weight of 18K. There was a special heritage flight with a TF-51D “Bum Steer” from the Confederate Air Force piloted by Charlie Hainline.

U.S. Navy F-35C two-ship demo team from VFA-125 “Rough Raiders”, one with Marine markings and the other Navy markings. Interestingly, one had a facetted look, with rather segmented sections of panels etc. The other had a very smooth finish, perhaps a very recent paint/RAM application. The USN will get both fighters airborne at the same time for their standard demo. They also did a heritage flight with a Grumman F4F Wildcat.

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Ken Rieder and Adam Baker make up the Redline Air Shows aerobatic team based out of Cincinnati. Another fine 2-ship flying demonstration performance!

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Matt Younkin and his Twin Beech 18. Matt Younkin is a third-generation pilot. He is the son of legendary airshow pilot Bobby Younkin, who is famous for his aerobatic displays in the AT-6, Beech 18, Learjet 23, Samson, and most recently, the Super Decathlon. The Beech 18 rolls with ease and has big, hefty smoke trails!

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World Aerobatics Champion Rob Holland’s Ultimate Airshows squeezed the life out of his MXS-RH by MX Aircraft! Rob Holland is a record-setting winner of eight consecutive US National Aerobatic Championships, four-time defending World Freestyle Aerobatic Champion, and a nine-time U.S. Freestyle Aerobatic Champion, and 2012 ICAS Art Scholl Award for Showmanship. A pilot since 1992, Rob has accumulated more than 14K hrs. flight time in more than 170 types of aircraft. Some of his moves look like RC model maneuvers!

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The USCG flew a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the twin-propped HC-144 and did a rescue demonstration. They have a permanent presence nearby– three MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and three HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplanes at Sector Corpus Christi (District 8 of the Atlantic Area of the Dept of Homeland Security). Sector Corpus Christi is a multi-mission unit aimed at: Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Ports and Waterways Security, Marine Safety, Drug and Migrant Interdiction, and Marine and Environmental Protection. In an average year we save 101 lives, assist 554 people, save $11 million in property, interdict 34 lanchas, prevent 5,500 lbs. of drugs from reaching the streets, and interdict 130 illegal migrants.

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The Commemorative Air Force flew the B-25 Devil Dog along with the Curtis SB2C Helldiver, with the Helldiver announced as the only one still flying. The flying included pyrotechnic explosives.

The airshow concluded with a crowning performance by the US Navy Blue Angels!

Thanks to NAS Kingsville’s CAPT Korsmo and PAO’s Mr. Kevin Clark and Mr. Rodney Hafemeister.

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