Millville NJ’s 2015 Wings and Wheels Air Show
Subject to inclement weather, heightened security concerns or performer cancellations, putting on an air show can be a risky venture. In 2011, without a presenting sponsor, The Millville Army Air Field Museum took on the financial responsibility of putting on a show that proved to be a near fiscal disaster when the Blue Angels cancelled. Good weather and last minute scrambling for additional aircraft by David Schultz Air Shows, LLC saved that show from being a total monetary loss. With that in the past, the not-for-profit museum was again ready to take on the uncertain in 2015.
The May 9-10 show followed on the heels and theme of the Friday warbird “Arsenal of Democracy World War II Victory Capitol Flyover” in Washington, DC- commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Hosted by and benefiting the Army Air Field Museum, the Millville Wings and Wheels Air Show is also one of the nation’s few shows that can satisfy the desire of aviation and automobile enthusiasts alike.
Opening with the US Army Golden Knights National Anthem Flag and Mass Exit jumps landing precisely at show center; the L-Birds, SNJ and PT trainers were the first up in a long inventory of warbirds to fly. Single-ship civilian acts of Rob Holland’s Window World MSX along with local favorite Jason Flood in his Pitts and Jack Knutson’s Firebird Extra 300 performed precise aerobatics while the crowd examined dozens of classic cars and numerous vendors on the ground.
The sizable list of WWII aircraft continued flying with a three-ship echelon of T-6s, five more L-Birds, one SV4C Stampe, the DAV’s B-25 “Panchito” Demonstration and Bill Gordon’s PT-17 Stearman Aerobatics. Static displays that flew included a BT-13, Tiger Moth and two PT-26 Cornells- each executing four race-track passes. Andrew McKenna’s P-51D “Dorrie R” flew a demo while the “Bald Eagle” P-51 and TBM Avenger remained on the ground.
The civilian aerobatic demo teams; three-ship Yak Raiders and Firebird Extreme (consisting of Rob Holland and Jack Knutson in their Extra 300’s) drew the audience’s attention with thrilling high speed coordinated maneuvers. Not be outdone, The GEICO Skytypers in their SNJ’s seemed to be flying a new routine for 2015. The maneuvers were much more dynamic and aggressive and, include an exciting six-ship head-on Bomb Burst and Delta Break-Out. On Friday, the “GEICOs” took Air Boss Schultz with them when they flew around Atlantic City, NJ and Philadelphia, PA ‘typing’ out smoke messages advertising the weekend show.
The U.S. Navy’s VFA-106 F/A-18F Super Hornet Demonstration rocked the Cumberland County, NJ airfield. The F/A-18C Classic and F/A-18F Super Hornet teams flew only one show in 2014- that at their home base NAS Oceana, VA. Procured by David Schultz, the south jersey air show fans were fortunate to see one of only fifteen Super Hornet shows scheduled for 2015. On Saturday jet #221 was flown by pilot Lt. Nate “Fonda” Miller and Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) Lt. Jason “IAD…S” Hoch. On Sunday, the alternate team of pilot Lt. Wallace “Gump” Miller and WSO Lt. Brandon “Bueller” Kovasci flew the demo in jet #246. Both crews were returning from 2014 and both flew during the Friday practice show.
Due to Millville’s 5,800 foot runway, the Thunderbirds F-16s had to stage and take-off from nearby Atlantic City International Airport. Prior to their performance, a NJ National Guard UH-60 transported the Thunderbird ground support personnel to the show. Friday was a sunny clear day but weekend low clouds forced the head-lining U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds into flying low shows. However, those routines kept the crowd alert, scanning the skies as they were treated to several sneak passes by the red, white and blue jets.
By all accounts, this year’s show seemed to be a complete success with attendance approximately fifty-thousand for the weekend. Promoters are hoping to have the Blue Angels return in 2017.