Fortissimo – “VERY LOUD —used especially as a direction in music.”

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Fortissimo – “VERY LOUD —used especially as a direction in music.” And the city of jazz and jets couldn’t have sounded better at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Belle Chasse, LA airshow 19-20 March 2022. The one thing that makes this particular airshow outstanding are the aviation assets that are based here! That leads to their participation and hence, a very cool groove consisting of Reserve aggressors, attack choppers, and ANG eagles! Photos and story by Roland Dansereau

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The following units performed for the airshow:

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MLAH (Marine Light Attack Helicopter)- 773 Detachment A Capabilities Demonstration (Marine Air Group-49)
They flew a 3-ship of 2x Cobras and 1x Huey demonstrating infiltration and exfiltration operations to emplace and extract personnel with Close Air support. While the UH-1Y arrived for a drop-off or pick-up, the Cobras (like A-10s) circled in the area to provide protection for the Huey. Constant maneuvering reduced vulnerabilities. Ride of the Valkeryies. The Marine Light Attack Helicopter 773 Detachment A, Stationed At NAS JRB New Orleans Consists Of AZ-1Z “Cobras” And UH-1Y “Hueys”. These Aircrafts Provide Attack And Utility Support To All U.S. Military and allied ground forces. Marine Air Group 42 Det. C originated in 1946 at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. MAD was redesignated as Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD) in 1953 and in 1957, MARTD relocated from New Orleans Lakefront Airport to its present location at NAS JRB New Orleans. MARTD New Orleans was redesignated as Marine Aircraft Group 46, Det. B in 1979. 1991 the squadron was deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. MAG-46, Det. B was redesignated as Marine Aircraft Group 42, Det. C in 1992 and then re-designated to MAG-49 Det. C in 2008. MAG-49 Det. C actively supports the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 Det A, Fleet Readiness Center. Mid-Atlantic and Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, Military Police Det.

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USASOC (US Army Spec Ops Command) Black Daggers
Parachutists opened the show and later jumped from a Huey. It was a freefall into a quick arm-connected circled and release to open. The USASOC Black Daggers are comprised Of Special Operators from fhroughout fhe army special operations forces community with various military specialties (titles/jobs). The have a combined 200 plus years of special ops experience and over 100 combat/operational deployments worldwide. The Black Daggers demonstrate across the globe in support of USASOC community outreach and recruiting efforts.

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Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) Demo
The distressed member pick-up demo showed delicate handling of the MH-65 in consistent winds. The hoist and retrieval to rescue a crewman looked effortless. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans Was Commissioned In July 1955 serving citizens of the gulf coast from Lake Charles, LA To Apalachicola, FL and the western rivers. The air station maintains 5 MH-65 helicopters 24/7. The primary missions are Search and Rescue, Marine Environmental Pollution Response, security of ports and waterways, and air defense of The National Capitol Region. The unit conducts over 300 search and rescue missions a year and has saved over 5500 lives since it’s commissioning.

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Quicksilver P-51
You won’t find a better looking aircraft anywhere -the shine alone makes classic car owners envious! The P-51 Mustang demonstration will be flown by Scott “Scooter” Yoak who, with his father Bill Yoak, has restored The Quick Silver from parts of Mustangs that were used in every war theater the Mustang was utilized. The mission ff The Quick Silver Flight Team is to honor and pay tribute to the thousands of veterans that have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of others and make as many shows as they can.

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Kevin Coleman
Mr. Coleman (a native of Coushatta, LA) just wrapped up his inaugural year as a Red Bull Challenger Cup contender finishing third overall. He has earned multiple flying awards. He also flew the Beech Bonanza for a demo on Sunday.

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Jessy Panzer
Jessy is honored to be flying her Pitts Special bi-plane and be able to share her passion for flight with airshow fans across the country. She has earned multiple flying awards.

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Playful Airshows / Redline Airshow
An exciting formation aerobatic flight team that thrills crowds with a display ff skill, verve, and showmanship. Adam Baker Airshows combines with Redline Airshow Team. Adam “Shakenbake” Baker of Jet360/Loft flies the Extra 330 (Jet360 – a full service private aviation that manages support for corporate jets) with Ken Reider in the RV-8 with Redline. Redline has been around for about 10 yrs with various sponsors related to aviation products. They have flown from Costa Rica to Canada and all across the U.S. In speaking with Mr. Reider, he said that he pulls between 6+ and 2- G’s. He carries minimum fuel, 10-12 gallons, to get maximum performance out of the aircraft using 6.5 gallons for the actual demo. A full tank carries 42 gallons. Interestingly, he uses more oil for the smoke trails during the show than fuel! It is like a cooking oil (environmentally safe) and he burns 8 gallons of it per show. Mr. Reider and Mr. Baker will be flying at the NAS Kingsville airshow 2/3 Apr 2022.

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USN F35C Legacy Flight
2-ship of F-35Cs are from NAS Lemoore (flown by VFA-125 “Rough Raiders”). The New And Old In Navy Aviation.

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The CAF’s FG-1D “530” is one of the original airframes that launched the Commemorative Air Force. The CAF Corsair was built by Goodyear hence the designation FG instead of F4U. Hails from Falcon Field, AZ and joined the Navy F-35C for a heritage flight.

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Shockwave And Flash Fire Jet Truck
Shockwave is a custom-built race truck equipped with 3 Huge J34-48 Pratt & Whitney jet engines that are originally out of a US Navy T2 Buckeye. The combined horsepower Is 36,000. These three jet engines make a total of 21,000 lbs. of thrust which easily propels this truck to speeds over 350mph. While racing planes at air shows all over North America, Shockwave is not only the most powerful truck in the world, it also holds the speed record for semi trucks at 376mph! You can get a jet ride in the truck for $3K.

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USAF F-16C Demo
Air Combat Command presented the F-16C demo from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB, SC. The Viper is always a ripp’in jet to see! This is last year for the black snake paint scheme.

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USAF F-35A Demo
Air Combat Command presented the F-35A demo from the 388th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, UT. This is an excellent demo to catch. Both the F-35A and F-16C flew together as well for a heritage flight.

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159FW / 122FS ANG F-15C/Ds
“The Jazz” flew a 2-ship of Eagles during the show. It is great to see some moral in the form of small nose art and one helmet covered with purple and yellow “nugget-wraps”! In classic form, the Eagles blasted off with Viking Departures! With a few burner passes, they departed the area for training and returned to beat-up the pattern. Bright afterburners were the name-of-the-game for multiple cycles in the pattern. There was a special occasion on Sunday as veteran pilot LTC John “Drag” Hensz retired with his career “fini” (final) flight. Congrats to Colonel Hensz. *The term Drag (also called a “pump”) is a tactic used to decoy the enemy and have him engage a fighter which is leaving the fight area/orbit. This is often done in a racetrack orbit so that another friendly wingman on the inbound track can get an awaiting shot at the enemy.

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VFA-204 River Rattlers
Few things are more impressive than seeing FIVE jets taxiing your way to fly at an airshow that aren’t part of a formal demo team! This is the only squadron mostly painted Gunship Grey with red stars on the tail (one is painted splinter black/grey/white and another in view was plain grey). Of course there are other aggressor units, but they have a variety of other paint schemes. And, bonus, jet #401 had the speed break painted purple with the local comedy and tragedy party masks (usually called “Thalia and Melpomene” or “Sock and Buskin” which honor the ancient Greeks’ favorite types of plays) Nice style! The single-ship led with a vertical takeoff and vicious pitch-over to level off. Then came a 2-ship simultaneous takeoff with tactical separation upon gear-up. This was repeated by #’s 4 and 5. They demonstrated a coordinated airfield attack, strafing runs, air combat maneuvering, 4 ship fly-bys with tail-hook down, show-of force passes, touch-n-go’s etc.. a splendid flying display by the River Rattlers!
A quick historical note: VF-204 started flying A-4Cs in 1970 in NAS Memphis TN, switching to A-7Bs at NAS New Orleans in 1978. In 1986, they transitioned to the A-7E and in 1991, they started flying the F-18A/Bs and then F-18A+s. The unit will once again be transitioning starting the end of this summer to F-5N/Fs and maintain its Aggressor training role. It is estimated that the jets will come from other units. It is not known whether some or all of the current Hornets will be distributed to the Marines and/or the Boneyard.

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Blue Angels
The Blue Angels are in their second season now flying F-18E/Fs. The demonstration is similar to the show with the F-18C/D. One observation noted with the Super Hornet is seeing pressure-relief fuel being dumped out of the tips of the tails while inverted. A very unusual situation occurred on Saturday finally with the Blue Angels. #2 ground aborted, the pilot jumped out and into a pick-up truck awaiting to be ferried to spares # 7 or #8 at a different part of the airfield. He would not fly either. #1 had to shut down for a quick attempted maintenance fix with panels open, restarted, and then also ground aborted. He jogged over and replaced #3, who then went off to back-taxi #7 to participate in the flight. Just as impressive to see this immediate adaptation, #4 (slot) flew in the #2 position to give the 3-ship symmetry! Sunday also saw an in-flight issue with #3 as he flew off in a safety hold position half-way through the show, once again leaving #4 to fill a wingman position, this time #3. Very impressive accommodation by the pilots, but it does make you wonder about the condition of the “newer” F-18F Super Hornets (?)

Other side notes for the airfield. The No Backpack policy was thoroughly inconsistent. One tent simply examined it and moved to the next backpack. Another tent denied backpacks. Parking is a treacherous process; it would truly expedite parking to split the incoming traffic into 2 or 3 separate parking areas instead of one inch-worm line. Biggest challenge is that NAS NO is like an island with one main route in and out – so arrive even earlier! Trash was a big problem with high winds and tons of napkins blowing past the taxiways. Lastly, I did not sample the scoop of macaroni for $11, so there is no insight for food feedback.

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Overall, the Navy did fantastic job of flying with VFA-204, the Marines MLAH-773 and both F-35Cs! The USAF ripped the sky as well! These home station units are what really make this a very special airshow – a MUST for fans!

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