Dandy Randy – The Great Texas Airshow!
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph AFB, TX just hosted its airshow on April 23-24 2022 celebrating the 75th anniversary of the USAF and 80 years of Air Education and Training (naturally under the Army then). Randolph is a base with huge ramp space which they pleasantly populated with many static displays including some unique appearances. There are two parallel runways, the flying show was on the west side (unfortunately looking into the sun, a repeat issue). The statics were placed on a huge ramp ninety degrees to the south of both runways, with a little bit running north on the west flightline. From the entrance from the major car park (I didn’t take the bus…..always question buses) to the last static display on the north edge of the west ramp was a mile long. The weather on both days was windy with clouds which led to low shows by the Thunderbirds. However, for the conditions, it was a solid performance of aerial flying! The static displays were outstanding!
Kent Pietsch in his Jelly Belly Stunt Plane, a 1942 Interstate Cadet. This is a more maneuverable aircraft that you would expect! It couldn’t be flown any better than with Mr. Pietsch at the controls.
12th FTW Composite 6-ship Flyby (2 xT-38s, T-1s, T-6s) (one pass only)
TORA! TORA! TORA! with pyro -always a grand production.
USMC MV-22B Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron demo from VMM-354 “Purple Foxes”
The C-17 Globemaster III West Coast Demo Team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
F-35A Demo & TF-51 Heritage Flight (Bum Steer)
Bill Stein in the Edge 540
Rob Holland in the MX2
Kent Pietsch in the Cadet landing multiple times on the moving pickup truck.
Subsonex JSX-2 kit built mini-jet flown by Tom Larkin
CF-5D demo (Canadian paint scheme) flown by Jeffrey “JR” Rust
CJ-6 Demo Manchin flown by Rick “Thug” Kelly
Kent Pietsch and the Jelly Belly Dead Stick Demo – power out from 6K, many maneuvers and during landing, compensating for gusting winds, stops perfectly right in front of a lady holding her hand out to touch the spinner.
CAF B-17 “Texas Raiders”, BE-18/SNB (out of view), B-25 [PBJ Marine Devil Dog] and trailed at the end by a Barksdale B-52H.
P-40 Warhawk (Flying Tigers)
Shockwave Jet Truck driven by Chris Darnell while racing both inverted Bill Stein and Rob Holland (pictured) – fantastic event!
USAF Thunderbirds -#2 Thunderbird pilot Maj Ian Lee, when asked about the possibility of colored smoke remarked, “We tried it once, but it was really messy.”
Special highlights of the statics were:
A-20G Havoc– possibly the last one still in flying condition. The last aircraft were built in 1944. Lewis Air Legends’ Havoc is from San Antonio, acquired from the Lone Star Flight Museum.
B-29 “Doc” only one of two (the other is “Fifi”)
F-15EX OT 53rd Wing (test component) from Eglin AFB, FL
Textron Airland Scorpion jet. 4 Scorpions were produced, only 3 fly now. This is the 3rd flying prototype.
KC-135R from Altus AFB. OK with nice heritage markings tracing the 97th Bomb Group ‘Y’ letter triangle. For insight: https://www.altus.af.mil/News/Article/2242299/the-triangle-y-behind-mobilitys-hometown/
San Antonio 149FW/182FS F-16C with special camouflage heritage paint scheme
One of three T-6 Texan II local trainers with heritage paint schemes. More insight at: https://www.jbsa.mil/News/News/Article/2396923/wwii-legendary-aces-aircraft-lore-alive-and-well-at-12th-ftw-39th-fts/
Sigh… nose art differences of the times.
The full ramp:
C-5 Westover, MA
B-52H from the 2nd BW (3 active duty bomb sqdrns: 11th, 20th and 96th) with the 20th BS “Buccaneers” (blue fin flash) tending the static aircraft. LA is the tail code for Active Duty. There is also the 307th BW (18 aircraft) from the Reserve side (BD tail code) with the 93rd Flying Training Unit (FTU) who works with the active duty 11thBS, the 343th BS combat squadron and the 345th BS who works with the B-1 Lancers 9th BS from active duty at Dyess. The Buccaneers kindly donated a couple of patches (their rubberized patch glows in the dark) for the article as they were instructed not to sell patches (very confusing as the F-35 demo team sold memorabilia as did classic bombers).
AC-130W Hurlburt Fld
F/A-18Es VFA-113 Stingers
E-2D VAW-123 Screwtops
MV-22B VMM-354 “Purple Foxes”
TG-15As– USAF Academy glider
RV-7A -side-by-side seating, single prop
TB-30 – French tandem basic trainer
A-26 – Invader Lady Liberty (the only American bomber to fly missions in three wars (WW II, Korea and Vietnam). Retired in 1972.
C-21 Cougar assigned to the 458th Airlift Sqdrn, Scott AFB, IL
C-47 “That’s All Brother”
AT-6 – Wolverine
B-25J – Rod Lewis Air Legends’ collection with Russian babe nose art
T-6G – Texan
EC145 – Eurocopter
CJ-6 Manchin -like the one that flew
JSX003 – microjet
BE-18 Beech twin-prop flew with bomber presentation (possible substitute for the A-26)
T-1 Jayhawk -local with heritage paint scheme
2x F-16Cs from 187FW/100FS, Dannelly Fld, ALANG (one with full red tail). Speaking with “Tazer”, they already have roughly half-a-dozen F-35 trained pilots – majority almost IP’s at Eglin, another flying with the 158FW, Burlington VTANG. It may take 1.5 yrs. to convert. Rumored some of their vipers could go to plus up Navy Aggressors.
BT-13 Valiant – tandem trainer
There are challenges with Randolph – with anything ‘size Texas’, it is very difficult to sufficiently cover the parked aircraft and also capture all the flying. The complaint isn’t laziness to walk at all, it’s trying to do justice with aircrew conversations and still get in place for the flying. And while the notice says the show ends at 5pm, security forces is already driving around happy to kick folks out at 435pm. An aircraft enthusiast point of view – if all this effort is made for the event, then a fan of aviation wants to appreciate every single bit of it! Therefore, I would recommend the statics be parked closer together towards the west.
If one is willing to miss some excellent flying and eat, it was a mistake here. It took three separate lines for a hot dog and Pepsi. You first had to find the specific line for a ticket just for the hot dog only. Then you had to get in another line to receive it. Then you had to get in another line for a ticket for a drink. Once you paid for the ticket, you continued in the same line for your soda – ridiculous! Last challenge at hand was the “no backpack” policy as published, potentially turning off attending photographers. I don’t know if it was fully enforced at all public entrances. With rows of cars being waved on base with no identification check, I should hope not (don’t want to get into diaper packs, purses, wagons bit).
In summary, it was a grand day to appreciate aviation – the span of historical aircraft representing the various eras of flight, the variety of airplanes that we have in inventory and in private hands, the showcasing of different platform abilities in flight etc.! It is a joy to have that action and insight brought to a friendly place of shared enthusiasts! While not a flyer, Shockwave brings a unique, ripp’in thrill as he raced aerobatic planes separate times down the runway. Afterburning Thunderbirds, vapor-puffing F-35, smoke-choked Rob Holland, a massive C-17 backing up down the runway and many others, it was a mighty airshow weekend to revel!