March Air Force Reserve Base Air Show 2012

This was a 2 day show in the middle of the Inland Empire of Southern California, known for its hot days and cold nights. Instead of going on Saturday fighting the crowds and the heat. I instead went hunting for whales off of the San Diego coastline, and planned on making it a day at the air show on the Sunday.

I was so happy that I had made that decision, when I arrived early to the Main gate of March ARB, I was greeted by some Airmen, who gladly gave me directions on where the Media parking was and where the Media tent was setup. Traffic was light.

Well I got lost, which seems highly unlikely, since they sent me to a numbered gate which was locked with no one to open it. I finally found an airman, who told me to go to different gate and show my Media credentials, and I would be let in to park. So I go to the said gate, show my credentials, and drive on in. When I got to the flight line, I realized “Hey maybe I should not be here”, as two Air Police (AP) officers with guns and a dog were staring at me. I slowly backed up and just went and found some parking where there was some other vehicles parked, went through the security tent, and off to the Media tent.

There I was greeted by several Public Affairs types and soon was sitting on the fence next to the flight line. As the public started to arrive, I noticed that the Media area was staying empty. As the show started, there still wasn’t any Media or fake Media types in the fenced off area, except for a Volunteer from the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and some guy with Media passes for him and his family, but he never left his chair or photographed anything. Turns out that most of the photographers had come out for the Saturday show, and from what the AP’s told me, it was elbow to elbow with some angry words being passed back and forth. By the time, the Thunderbirds flew, there was only about 3 photographers and the families of the Public Affairs office in the Media tent

The day started off warm, and it was sunny and bright, but luckily the sun was to our backs and the planes glowed in the sunlight. There were performances by several civilian groups, with aerobatics and fly-bys of World War II, Korean War, and modern day planes, while everyone was waiting for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

There was one group of performers who I thought stole the show and that were the civilian-based Patriots group. Sponsored by Fry’s Electronics, this was the first show where they were flying in a six plane configuration and they were just amazing. Flying in Boeing/Aero-Vodochody L-39C’s, these military turned civilian pilots put on a show that rivals many Military flights teams.

And there was more to come with Thunderbirds, now that they had a few shows under their belts, they looked much more precise in this show than when I had seen them in Yuma, AZ for their first show of the 2012 Air Show season, back in March. My only complaint of the Thunderbirds is the ground crew performance where they are checking the planes and dancing around under the planes. This is a designed performance, but it took approx. 20 minutes from start to finish, and just doesn’t look as professional as the Navy’s Blue Angels ground crew in my opinion, and people want to see the planes in the air, not ground crew swinging around on the under carriage of the planes, looking like kids on the monkey bars on a playground.

The Thunderbirds put on a nice show, and the crowd approved with screams and shouts of delight. While it was a very hot day, the U.S. Air Force provided water to the masses and I saw only one person taken away by paramedics for heat stroke. Overall, it was a great show, and one I look forward to seeing it again the next time.

 

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Douglas Aguillard

Douglas (Doug) Aguillard is a Freelance Photojournalist who specializes in the Military & Aviation fields. Based in San Diego, CA, he is a Marine veteran., He currently is a photojournalist for the Military Press Newspaper, the Historical / Archival Dept. photographer for the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, and a very proud member of Photo Recon, and has been published in various magazines and books such as "Combat Aircraft Monthly" magazine, "Vertical " magazine, "Wings of Gold" magazine, Sikorsky Frontlines newsletter, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum's Book: "Celebrating the San Diego Air & Space Museum: A History of the Museum and it's collections".

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