Maryland Fleet Week and Airshow, 2018

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In what has become a biannual tradition, Naval vessels and aircraft arrived in Baltimore for Maryland Fleet Week and Airshow, October 3rd through 9th, 2018. American, British and Canadian ships were available for tours in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor or nearby Locust Point. The Inner Harbor hosted many vendors and special events during the busy week. Airshow and static aircraft based out of historic Martin State Airport.

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This tradition began as the Star Spangled Spectacular in September 2012 in commemoration of the War of 1812. Two years later in June 2014, the end of the War of 1812 was commemorated. In 2016 the festivities were moved to early October and renamed Maryland Fleet Week. This year, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds were the headline act. The three previous versions hosted the US Navy Blue Angels.

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Martin State Airport is a General Aviation Reliever east of Baltimore and owned by the State of Maryland. In addition to the base for all the performers, there was a festival for public viewing with static displays. Martin State has a single, 7,000 foot runway, 15/33. It was the Glenn L. Martin Company airport for nearly 40 years when they were turning out the B-26 Marauder, the Mariner, Sea Master, Marlin and Mars Sea Planes, and the B-57 Canberra. An RB-57 is part of the Glenn L Martin Aviation Museum collection and was brought to the main ramp for static display.

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Additionally, Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Maryland State Police have Aviation Divisions here as well as local Channel 11 and 13 helicopters. A National Guard Base occupies the northeast end where they fly A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft. Martin State is where I worked a light detail ahead of the spectator line on the hot ramp and was allowed to travel to spots at each end of the runway. It is quite a home field advantage that I can get at no other airshow location. After Sunday’s show, I remain on site to capture a number of departures in gorgeous late day sunshine. Saturday was cloudy with varying degrees of brightness.

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On the hot ramp were the Thunderbirds, the Geico Skytypers, Scott Francis in his blue MXS, and the Canadian CF-18 Demo Team. In the festival area, there was a home based A-10 of the 104th Fighter Squadron, a Navy SH-60 helicopter, an F/A-18F of VFA-213 “Black Lions”, an E-2C Hawkeye from VAW 124 “Bear Aces” and four T-6 Texan IIs in the Navy orange and white training scheme from Whiting Field, Florida. The Martin Museum towed a number of artifacts from their ramp on the south end. A T-33 in Maryland Air National Guard markings, the RB-57 in black paint, a TA-4 Skyhawk in desert aggressor colors, an F-4 Phantom in Arkansas camouflage paint, an A-7 Corsair in camo and a blue T-34 Mentor.

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Flying started at about 1pm. Not everything that performed was based out of Martin State. There was supposed to be a Search and Rescue routine from the Coast Guard, a fly by of a P-8 Poseiden and a C-5 Galaxy. The first to leave Martin State Airport was an SH-60 helicopter from HSC-9 out of Norfolk with jumpers aboard. After making a drop near the Fort McHenry show center, they were picked up and dropped again back at Martin State. Scott Francis did a short teaser routine and the Geico Skytypers flew. Next was the A-10 Demonstration Team minus the Heritage Flight and the Canadian Forces CF-18 Demonstration Team. Upon returning to Martin State, the CF-18 did three passes of pattern work prior to landing. The Thunderbirds taxied to the end of the runway but only Number 1 took off. He was gone for quite a while and those of us who know this business knew the demonstration was not going to happen. The ceilings were not high enough to perform a demo.

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Sunday was cloudy as well until early afternoon. Although it was predicted to clear up in the morning, it broke up only just prior to the airshow. The Navy T-6 Texan IIs departed in the morning. Scott Francis did not perform his teaser but would perform later prior to the Thunderbirds. The first act to depart Martin Sate was the Geico Skytypers. They had one odd ball painted T-6 in the 6 ship group. The CF-18 flew earlier today and launched just prior to the return of the Skytypers. No pattern work upon his return as he was low on fuel. Andrew McKenna arrived in his silver P-51D Mustang to take part in the USAF Heritage Flight. He launched with the A-10 but did not return to Martin State afterward. The A-10 returned with a nice left break over the field. Scott Francis departed with a nice right break for his full demonstration prior to the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds closed the show and I caught their departures from the departure end of Runway 33.

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Once the show was over, the Martin State Airport Maintenance teams began breaking down the barricades and aircraft were moved around. The Museum moved their aircraft three at a time down the taxiway to their regular spots on a south ramp. Just about that time, the two SH-60 helicopters were nearing departure at the picturesque south ramp known as “Strawberry Point”. The last aircraft to depart that evening was the E-2C Hawkeye. I was out of light by the time they actually departed but what a good way to end the day. This is a duty I always look forward to and except for some weather difficulties, it was a successful and enjoyable Fleet Week.

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