Early Autumn Colors Bathe the 2015 NAS Oceana Air Show
Naval Air Station Oceana Virginia was awash with color during the weekend of September 19th and 20th. No, the Autumn foliage hadn’t really begun to blaze forth yet in Virginia, but this year’s air show was full of brilliant colors in the sky and on the ground. Warbirds, active military and civilian performers all lent their colorful aircraft to make the collage that excites spectators every Fall at the NAS Oceana Air Show.
Dan Buchanan’s multi-colored hang glider streamed colored smoke and streamers from it. Gary Ward’s neon green and blue MX2 plane and the Geico Skytypers red, white, blue and gray SNJs streamed bright white smoke across the sky. The nearby Military Aviation Museum sent a Corsair, Avenger, and Skyraider, Paul Wood flew an A-4 Skyhawk, and Greg Shelton performed in his FM2 Wildcat. All of these warbirds were in authentic color schemes. The Warrior Flight Team’s gloss black L-39 Albatross performed, as did Bill Leff in his colorful T-6 Texan too.
Most military aircraft today wear gray, subdued colors, which are good for visually camouflaging them in the air, but rather drab for spectators. As colorful as the show’s aerial display was, the static display rivaled it, for some rare and colorful military aircraft were arrayed on the ramp. CAG aircraft – specially painted aircraft that are symbolically the squadron commander’s personal aircraft, filled the ramp. Normally, each squadron can carry one or two non-standard, highly visible colored aircraft in their inventory. NAS Oceana is the Navy’s East Coast fighter base, and its ramps are filled with squadrons of Hornets and Super Hornets, so there were plenty of CAG birds to view. Most squadrons that were still at “home” (versus deployed) put their attractive aircraft on display, although some flew during the multi-day air show too.
An MH-53 helicopter and C-2 Greyhound COD, in attendance from nearby NAS Norfolk, also sported colorful markings. The Blue Angels added their blue and yellow Hornets and C-130 to the display, but of course there were more than a few military aircraft in their subdued color schemes, mainly different shades of gray and white. Even then, jets like an all white E-6 Mercury perked up the ramp. And a new F-35 Lightning II even sported some eye catching contrasting colors in its new scheme.
In a world filled with low visibility and subdued color schemes on military jets, the NAS Oceana Air Show reminded many of “the old days”, when more gaudy color schemes were common on fighter jets. The non-military performers in attendance helped stretch the color palate too. Like a breath of fresh Autumn air, the colors at this year’s show were a welcome change from the norm.
All photos by Bob Finch.