OCEANA 2019 – ANOTHER GREAT AIR SHOW!
Six (6) Airplanes! Not Really!
Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach held its annual Air Show for 2019, on Saturday and Sunday, September 21st and 22nd and everyone had a fun time even though Oceana got the prize this year for having the lowest number of military statics ever on the public ramp on Friday – Six (6), Yes, 6 current military aircraft on Friday! We think someone in higher authority felt a little guilty about that and late Friday night the ramp guys found two F/A-18 Hornets from VFA-106 that they could spare and rolled them out overnight to near the public entry gate to be ready for Saturday morning, the first actual public day. Those two, plus a late arriving T-6B Texan II Friday night, got the total military statics up to 9 by Saturday morning. Wow. The first Hornet was an all-grey F/A-18F two seater, 166012, 266/AD, from Strike Fighter Squadron 106, VFA-106, “Gladiators”. The second was an unusual F/A-18C, 163505, 300/AD, also from VFA-106 “Gladiators”, with a large “Gladiator” logo on its fuselage and bright “Gladiator” tail art. This “300” bird was special because it was to be the last “C” model Hornet at Oceana and the last “C” Legacy Hornet in active duty USN squadrons.
It later departed Oceana on October 2, 2019 for the “The Last ‘C’ Out” Ceremony for its “Sunset Flight” for reassignment to a US Marine Air Wing. On that “Last-C” departure flight, 300 was escorted by three “F” Super Hornets also from VFA-106. This 31 year old plane had its first acceptance flight on October 14th, 1988. The pilot for the October departure flight, Lt. Andrew Jalali, was born in 1988 and also was 31 years old. This apparently was the last “C” Hornet in the active duty Navy squadrons. Active duty Naval Aviation has all “E’s” and “F’s” now. However, VFC-12, “Fighting Omars”, here at Oceana, as a Reserve Composite Squadron, will still retain their “Legacy” Hornets for a whole (A+, C, D) as will the other Reserve squadrons. The Marines will also soldier on with their C’s and D’s until they transition soon to F-35B “STOVL’s and their F-35C carrier-hardened aircraft. I don’t think anyone realized the significance of this “C” Gladiator bird that they walked past on entering Oceana that day as being the very last “C” in the active duty Navy. Someone should have put up a sign or something. Anyway, we had 9 current military statics by Saturday morning, but not really! If you counted everything, the warbirds, the T-Birds, the Skytypers, the Fleet Air Power birds, the stunt guys and everybody else at the Hot Ramp, we had 54 airplanes for the show. Not that bad!
The Squadron Booths.
The coolest thing about going to an air show at Oceana, besides the airplanes, is visiting all the Squadron Booths. Bring lots of cash. They sell everything, including teeshirts, hoodies, baby tees, sweatshirts, photos, patches, zaps, challenge coins, mugs, shot glasses, and much more. And it’s not just the Oceana units. It’s also the squadrons over at Chambers Field at NS Norfolk, the E-2D, C-2A and helo guys, because they are now a Det. of Oceana. Even the SeALs over at Dam Neck and the Carrier Air Wings have tables here. Who’s Here: VFC-12, Fighting Omars / Ambush; VFA-11, Red Rippers; VFA-32, Swordsmen; VFA-34, Blue Blasters; VFA-37, Ragin’ Bulls; VFA-81, Sunliners; VFA-83, Rampagers; VFA-86, Sidewinders; VFA-103, Jolly Rogers; VFA-105, Gunslingers; VFA-106, Gladiators; VFA-131, Wildcats; VFA-136, Knighthawks; VFA-143, Pukin’ Dogs; VFA-211, Fighting Checkmates; VFA-213, Blacklions; all Hornet units. Then you also have VR-56, Globemasters, with their C-40 Clippers; Then the Carrier Wings are here from Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic: Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1), AB, assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75); CVW-3, AC, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69; CVW-7, AG, USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72; CVW-8, AJ, USS George H.W. Bush CVN-77 and even the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), still undergoing acceptance trials and still berthed over at Newport News Shipbuilding, even had a table. Then you still had the squadrons from Chambers Field over here — the C-2A Greyhound guys; the E-2D Hawkeye guys; the MH-60S/R Knighthawk guys and the MH-53 Sea Dragon guys from HM-14 “Vanguard”, all on the ramp today selling stuff. That’s a lot of Squadron Tables all over here at Oceana. Of course you still had the Food Vendors, Beer Tents, Kids areas, Car Salesmen, Garage Door Salesman, etc., all wanting to sell you something!
What’s STEM Day? Friday was a special day at Oceana. It was “STEM Day”! It’s when at 1100, 6,000 5th Graders on 180 yellow schools busses “invaded” NAS Oceana for a Day of Learning about “STEM” – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This was not just a day of looking at the planes on the “Practice Day” at Oceana. These kids had to come here and learn something as if they were still in school. The kids were from the schools in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake areas. This had been going on at Oceana for about 6 years now and they really had to do schoolwork here. They literally had to get their STEM Tickets punched at a series of Learning Centers that were set up at some of the planes but most at small learning tents around the ramp. each school had distinctive colored tee shirts identifying the school and city – solid red, yellow, blue, green, orange in solid primary colors – no designs, just solid colors with logos. The best I saw was a solid color with the Breitling Demo Jet profile on the back. At 1600 they all assembled in neat organized lines controlled by their teachers and marched military-style to the west near Hanger 404 to find their busses and “Egress The Area”.
Static Ramp East
Here are the planes on the East Static Ramp: The first “plane” you hit as you walked in after the security check from the east public parking ramp was, of course, “Chopper-10” from WAVY-TV here in Norfolk, a 1988 Bell 206L-3, a 7-seat rotorcraft, owned by LIN Television, with special searchlights, infrared and TV cameras with internal broadcasting controls. Next were the two special F/A-18 Hornets from VFA-106 “Gladiators”, the grey 2-seat “F” and the very last “C” in the Navy; next to these was a P-8A Poseidon from VX-1 “Pioneers” NAVAIR Test Squadron from Pax River; then we had a “Collectors Item” also down from Pax, a red and white UV-18 Twin Otter, 255/RV, VXS-1 “Warlocks” from the US Naval Research Lab at Pax flown down by the unit CO, Comdr. Jared Tharp, who was answering questions next to his bird; next a Grumman E-2D Hawkeye from VAW-120 “Greyhawks” over from nearby Chambers Field, with an unusual call-sign on the nose – SEAMUS2DOPE – (don’t ask!); then we had some nearby heavy metal, a C-17A from 436AW / 512 AW down from Dover.
Finally in the Hanger near the Control Tower, they had 1973 Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatross Czech jet trainer, painted up white with a blue belly and a red tail with an “8” and a “332nd”, with “Forgotten Heroes Trust” and “American Patriot” on the airframe, out of Hampton Roads Executive Airport. This airplane actually has an unusual story. It raced in 2018 as “#8”, named “American Patriot” in the 2018 Reno National Championship Air Races in the Jet Class. Their racing pilot was Pete Stavrides from North Haven, CT. This rather old (1972) jet qualified in Second Place with an average speed of 497.111 mph. In Heat 1A it finished in Third Place with an average speed of 474.760 mph. In Heat 3 it finished in Second Place with an average speed of 474.905 mph. In Heat 3A it finished in Second Place with an average speed again of 474.905 mph. Finally on the Gold Race it finished in Third Place with an average speed of 474.612 mph. Similar to the last “C” Legacy Hornet on display, no one ever knew that they had a famous “Reno Racer” on display.
Take a Ride with Some SeALs:
In the maze of food, vendor, and squadron tents in the center of the ramp, were two interesting exhibits from “Patriotic Excursions”, a group of ex-SeAL Team 6 guys that will take you out into Chesapeake Bay on recently decommissioned seven meter RIB’s (rigid inflatable boats) from the USN Special Ops Units. These same vessels were used to support surface warfare and special operations activities in the Middle East and Pacific Theatre AoO’s. They will take you out on a RIB inflatable on a simulated high speed Special Ops Mission both on land and over water. At Oceana they showed off a “SEAL Delivery Vehicle” previously used by SeAL Team-2 over at nearby Dam Neck Annex called a “SDV Mk-8 Mode-1”. This thing seals up with a team of four and cruises just below the surface for a special operations mission. Near it was a “Dry Deck Shelter” (DDS) Mini-Sub that attaches to a SSN / SSGN submarine to launch a crew of four near an enemy beach underwater. Apparently you experience some of this stuff if you sign up for a ride with these guys. Not quite an airplane but it sounds like fun. Just make sure your insurance is paid up!
Static Ramp West:
After a half a mile walk through the maze of tents we hit some more statics: first was a black Boeing A / MH-6M “Little Bird”, (nicknamed the “Killer Egg” because it really looks like a flying egg.), a light assault / FAC helicopter used for special operations missions by the US Army. The MH-6 is flown by the “Night Stalkers” from the 160th Special Operations Aviations Regiment (Airborne) out of Fort Campbell, KY. The MH-6 was originally based on a modified Hughes OH-6A Cayuse and is now based on a MD-530F. The crew told me this is a very tough bird to fly. Next to “Little Bird” was a private 1951 Cessna 305A done up as a USAF O-1G “Bird Dog” FAC in light tan Vietnam SEA camo colors with simulated target spotting smoke rockets on the wing hard points. Walking further west we had a yellow Boeing N2S-4 Kaydet (A75N1); next a 1960 bright orange and white SNJ-5 / T-6 Texan Racer with a big “GOTCHA” on the mid-fuselage, “Riff-Raff Racing” on the tail, with a big “9” in back of the canopy, owned by Code-1 Aviation — quite a colorful Reno Racer; then another Reno Racer, a P-51D-25-NA Racing Mustang, 44-76329, silver with a red tail and yellow wing bands, fuselage logo “Bunny” and “Miss Kentucky State”; then a German Focke-Wolf Fw-190-A8 replica Messerschmidt flown over from Jerry Yagen’s Military Air Museum (MAM) over at Princess Anne Road not too far away in VB.
Then we had an Australian-built Gippsland Gipps Aero GA-8, an 8-passenger Airvan-8, converted to a red and white large CAP SAR aircraft; then another wMAM aircraft, a 1943 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina, a fully restored amphibious patrol plane; next a current US Navy Sikorsky MH-60S (“Sierra”) Seahawks helicopter test aircraft from The Air Test and Evaluation VX-1 “Knight Hawks” , 813/JA, over from Pax; then a Cessna-172 from the Virginia Department of Aviation; next a private helo, a 2003 15-seat, Eurocopter EC-155B, owned by DS Air out of Norfolk; then a 1945 Grumman TBM-3E Marine WW2 Torpedo Bomber owned by the American Heritage Flying Museum, based at the CAF “Capital Wing” out of Culpepper Airport in Manassas, VA; next a steady visitor to Oceana, the 1955 Fuji LM-1 Japanese trainer built by Fuji Heavy Industries and privately owned by John McLanahan out of Lynchburg, VA; then a late arrival to the ramp Friday night, a T-6B Texan II Navy trainer in white and day-glo orange, with a “F” tail from TAW-5, Training Air Wing Five, out of NAS Whiting Field, in Milton, FL. That’s it! The static ramp had 6 at the east end and by the Tower and 14 at the west end by Hanger 404.
The Hot Ramp!
The Hot Ramp was another story! Again , counting everybody, we estimate that there were about 35 planes all told on the Hot Ramp in various locations, full time or part time, that participated in the Air Show. Unfortunately, none of these aircraft were parked at Show Center for easy viewing. They were all parked far to the west at Hanger 405 and 406. Far out of sight were the five F-16C’s from the Thunderbirds. The TB’s that were here were unusual for three reasons: 1) they were parked totally out of view to the far west; 2) the Air Force Demo Team was at a major US Navy Air Station; and 3) five planes were here because Maj. Michelle Curran, TB-6 and the “Opposing Solo” was recently injured in a sports accident. The Thunderbirds are noted for never replacing a pilot for a short term absence. There are also never any “cross-overs”; pilots fly only in that one position they are trained for. A sixth aircraft, the 2-seat TB-8, and F-16D, the Narrator’s plane, was tucked away in Hanger 405. Possibly TB-7, the Operations Officer’s mount, was hiding in there also.
The Thunderbirds equipment and support crew usually comes in on a borrowed KC-135R that hauls the stuff and acts as a TB Tanker sometimes. We think think he was also hidden far to the west. The C-17A demo plane was an AETC training aircraft from the 96th AMW / 58th Airlift Squadron out of Altus AFB, Oklahoma. It was noted that this will be the last year that the Globemaster III Demo Team will be from a training squadron. The Hot Ramp also had six SNJ-2 Texans from the Skytypers out of Republic Airport in LI, NY, also far out of sight. The E-2D Hawkeye Demo Team from VAW-120 “Greyhawks” were on the ramp for a while but returned home later to nearby Chambers Field. There were two different Jump Planes used for the USASOC “Black Daggers” and “Skydive Suffolk” – Friday it was a British 19-seat Short SC-7 “Skyvan” and on Saturday it was a 9-passenger Cessna 208B “Grand Caravan”.
There were five stunt planes parked inside the 406 Hanger: 1) An 2001 Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH EA-300, or simply an “Extra-300”, a bright red and orange mono-wing, actually a N486MM designed in 1987 by Walter Extra (that’s his real name!), a German aerobatic pilot, with this one owned by “Jack Klatt Air Shows”, this one being Jack Links second stunt plane and piloted by Dell Coller; 2) Jack Links red and black bi-wing Jet Waco “Scream’in Sasquatch”, a 1929 Taperwing biplane, with a N2KP P&W 985 radial engine with 1500# thrust and a belly-mounted GE-CJ610 (J85) jet engine with a 3000# thrust, 250 mph max speed and a special 3-bladed prop, piloted by John Klatt himself; 3) A 1957 bright red and yellow highly modified Grumman AgCat G-164A bi-wing crop duster called the “Show Cat”, flown by Gene Soucy; 4) A 1979 black and red Pitts S-2S bi-wing customized to be something called a “Prometheus 2(S2)” now jacked up to be 450 hp, designed and flown by Skip Stewart; 5) A 1943 Boeing 450 Super-Stearman , originally a USN N2S-3 (PT-17), now advanced with a Tulso 450 hp P&W radial engine, done up in red, white and blue with red and white stripes on the wing, and flown today by the husband and wife team of Greg and Ashley Shelton in two separate acts – a stunt flying demo and later a wing walking demo.
The Hot Ramp also had two separate F/A-18F Super Hornets from VFA-106 Gladiators, that participated in an in-flight NAS Oceana “Change of Command” ceremony while going 300 kts in a tight 2-ship over Show Center. The outgoing Base CO, Capt. Chad Vincelette, last Boss of VFA-32 Swordsmen, was handing over his command to the new Base CO, Capt. John Hewitt, previous Base XO, who was previously a E-2C boss at Chambers. The ramp also had two F/A-18E Super Hornets also from VFA-106 Gladiators for the TACAIR Demo Team, one of which did the actual demo. There was also a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair painted up in dark blue VMF-312 colors with a big “530” on the side of the fuselage, up from the CAF “Dixie Wing” based at Peach Tree City, Georgia, up north for a Corsair Demo and a Heritage Flight with the Gladiator demo Hornet later. Finally, the Hot Ramp had nine F/A-18 Hornets that would participate in the Fleet Tactical Air Power Demonstration and Fleet Flyover later. Years ago this used to be a 21 plane show, but that’s alright, we’ll take the 9 planes. Through the kind efforts of Alex Hrapunov on this and some other research, we have, for you plane spotters and number crunchers, the exact list of the Hot Ramp TAC AIR participants:
1) F/A-18F. 165887. VFA-106. AD/206. (Gladiators)
2) F/A-18F. 169647. VFA-106. AD/252
3) F/A-18E. 169642. VFA-34. AJ/402. (Blue Blasters)
4) F/A-18E. 169641. VFA-34. AJ/400
5) F/A-18E. 169645. VFA-34. AJ/405
6) F/A-18A+162831. VFC-12. AF/02. (Arctic Splinter / Fighting Omars – Ambush)
7) F/A-18C. 164240. VFC-12. AF/41. (Grey, Friday only)
8) F/A-18D. 164263. VFC-12. AF/46. (Saturday, Arctic Splinter)
9) F/A-18D. 164014. VFC-12. AF/49. (Sunday, grey)
The Saturday Flying Show:
Saturday was a CAVU Day – Clear Air Visibility Unlimited – a perfect day for a High Show. On time at 1040 with the USASOC “Black Daggers”, 6 good canopies open after a free-fall from from the Cessna Caravan jump plane from 8,000 feet. The last two jumpers opened up a 25′ x 40′ American Flag at 5,000 feet while Natalie Moran sang our National Anthem. That flag was actually the same size as the flag that flew at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in the War of 1812 while Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem. Dell Collins took his orange Extra 300L up for his “Teaser Show” after flying around the flag jumper. Then Chris Darnell in the Shock Wave Jet Truck let loose and the crowd momentarily lost their hearing and got warmed up very quickly with some close by flaming exhausts. The Skytypers went up next to do some computerized dot skywriting around the air show box perimeter. Next, Hall Automotive took their classic 2.6 litter Dodge Charger muscle car out to do the “Hellcat Burnout Demo” and did some smokey “doughnuts” in front of the Announcers Stand. Rob Reider loved it! Memories of the 60s! Next up was something special: Four jumpers from Skydive Suffolk did a Dedication Jump, with a special “VB STRONG” large white flag, in honor of the recent mass shooting at the Virginia Beach City Hall where 12 victims lost their lives and 4 others were seriously injured recently on May 31st, 2019. The Announcer, Rob Reiner, gave an outstanding soliloquy speech in honor of the tragedy. A moment of silence followed.
Then Greg Shelton took his 450 hp Super Sterman PT-17 up for a good aerobatic performance to 1920’s music. Next up was a totally opposite performance by the C-17A demo unit out of Altus AFB, Oklahoma, doing a series of slow and fast passes, 360’s, and a short field landing in 1500 feet using his thrust reversers to slow down, then doing a K-turn backup move in a 100 foot wide runway. Next was a combined free-fall jump with 8 military jumpers from the British “Red Devils” and the USASOC “Black Daggers”. The Skytypers then came back and entered from behind the crowd in a 6-ship line abreast entry to do their traditional ACM / CAS military demo showing Delta to Diamond transitions, 1v1, 2v2, 4v2, 3v3 moves and finally their forward starburst and high bomb burst with some pyro going off for their CAS strafing run, all ending with a Delta Pitchout to Land in trail. Next the seven F/A-18 Hornets for the Fleet Air Power Demo did a sequenced full burner take off and held high to the south. The C-17, now loaded with Black Daggers in full combat gear, took off to hold. The E-2D Hawkeye from VAW-120 came back from Chambers to do his demo with a series of passes, a carrier break, a carrier trap and a taxi in front of the crowd with his wings folded.
Fleet Air Power Demonstration —
“The Battle to Re-Take Oceana”:
Enemy forces had taken a portion of Oceana. American SOC forces had to re-take “Show Center” – a vital Communications Center on the Base. Enemy aircraft had also been spotted near the Base. Air dominance had to be re-established. A nearby FAC called in some F/A-18 fighters that were in the area. “Joker-1” and “Joker-2” were first to arrive on-screen and gave us a nice demo of a 1v1 ACM “fur-ball” tight fighter tactics with enemy bogies. Viper 4 and 5 were called in to clear the LZ for an air drop of Special Forces from an inbound C-17A. The two F/A-18’s did a strafing run with pyro going off prior to the air drop. Once the LZ was secured, two Red Devils and five Black Daggers SOC Command troops in full combat gear did a HALO jump – High Altitude Low Opening – into the secured LZ. These guys dropped in full combat gear with a 150# sack dangling 10 feet below them – a perfect example of a Special Ops Insertion. However the SOC Team noticed that there were still enemy forces near the LZ. An embedded JTAC – Joint Terminal Attack Controller – was also part of the team – Call Sign “Willow-66”. The JTAC is really an on-ground FAC that calls in and coordinates inbound fighter CAS attacks on designated called-out ground targets. His job is to ident and call out locations of Enemy and Friendly forces to avoid any mistakes. “Willow-66” called in five nearby F/A-18E/F’s to do bombing and strafing runs on the enemy forces. “Joker 1, 2, and 3” and “Roman 6 and 7” came in hot in sequence to lay down a line of real pyro explosions – a good and real CAS Demo! “Joker-1” was first in and was “Cleared Hot, Inbound from the west”. Comms barked in mil-speak – “Joker-1, 4-miles out, Cleared Hot” was the radio comm. Big pyro on the designated target. Big Bang! Joker-1 went around and joined up with Jokers 2 and 3 to form a 3-ship line abreast attack. More pyro goes off big time! New enemy threats came up. “Willow-66” instructs Roman-5 and 6 to “Come in, release one cluster bomb each and pop up on the egress”. The JTAC next calls in Joker 1, 2 and 3 to unload two bombs on each designated target. Comms go “Joker-2, 4 miles out, cleared hot!” Big pyro this time goes off. Roman 5 and 6 were next cleared by the JTAC for a 20 mike-mike (20mm nose gun) strafing run. “Roman-6, Cleared Hot, Cleared Hot!” A bullet-sized row of smaller pyro now goes off left to right. Roman-5 now does a strafing run and a pop up bomb release. Small bullet strikes then a big pyro explosion when an enemy weapons cache explodes. After this big Special Operations ground and air battle, “Show Center” at Oceana was declared “Secure”! In the real world, MH-60S helos would have come in to extract the special ops forces. Here they just walked over to greet the crowd.
However the mission was not quite over. “Roman-6” just declared a “Bingo Fuel” state and needed to top off his fuel. “Roman-7” was configured for “Passing Gas” as a Tanker with a hose and drogue set up with external tanks. Roman 6 and 7 did a fine demo of F/A-18 in -flight aerial refueling! Once the Base was Secure again, the E-2D Hawkeye from VAW-120 took off to head home to Chambers. Then, kind of like a Victory Pass, we had the 6-ship TAC AIR Hornet formation come in as a Delta for a slow pass with a sequenced “Carrier Break For Landing” for each plane. Right behind the cleared Delta, Hornet #7 came in for a high speed carrier break to land. All the Hornets taxied back in front of the crowd on their way to the Hot Ramp to shut down.
The Flying Continues:
The flying show continued with two F/A-18F’s from VFA-106 Gladiators, launching for a special in-flight “Change of Command” ceremony for the new and old Commanding Officers for NAS Oceana, as previously described. Gene Soucy next took his 1957 Grumman Ag Cat bi-wing crop duster, now called a “Show Cat”, up for a fine demo. Ashley and Greg Shelton next went up in Greg’s 1943 Boeing Super Stearman PT-17 bi-plane for a wing-walking demo by his wife Ashley. Is that any way to treat your wife? Apparently she loves the wing walking! Jack Klatt next took the Jack Links Jet Waco up for a combined prop and jet powered aerobatic demonstration. It’s always amazing to watch this souped up 1929 Taperwing go into jet mode with that loud GE J-85 jet engine going into full afterburner. It wakes everyone up! The 1942 Goodyear FG-1D Corsair from the CAF “Dixie Wing” took off to hold for the upcoming Heritage Flight.
Next the US Navy’s Super Hornet East Coast Tactical Demo Team from VFA-106 Gladiators launched their Super Hornet to set up for their performance. We were a little worried about this one even coming off because the Navy announced in July that the East Cost TAC Demo Team out of Oceana were ordered to cancel all their remaining air show performances
for 2019 and concentrate on training new Super Hornet pilots at Oceana, their primary mission, and also because of a “Budget Shortfall”. VFA-106 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing, Atlantic Fleet. It’s primary mission is to “Provide the Fleet with superbly trained replacement air crew to support the Fleet readiness” a Facebook post said in July. The Gladiators posted that the training mission will now take precedence over the TacDemo displays and all future demonstrations were officially cancelled after July for the remainder of 2019. It’s curious that the West Coast Tac Demo Team with VFA-122 “Flying Eagles”, also a Pacific Fleet FRS like 106, were allowed to finish their 2019 demonstration schedule. USNI News wondered if the reported “Budget Shortfalls” are isolated to only east coast Navy squadrons? Anyway, the 149,000 people (official count) at Oceana on Saturday afternoon were very happy when that F/A-18E from VFA-106 Gladiators with “Hi-Lo” on the stick, took off for the Super Hornet TAC Air Demo Team to “Do His Thing”. We guess Oceana just couldn’t let the home folks down and finally allowed 106 get up there “and engage!”
“Hi-Lo” did a nice burner take-off and came around for his high speed pass at 750 mph.That’s like Mach 0.99. That’s cutting it just a little close considering the Speed of Sound is 767 MPH. One little click and there would have broken some windows and maybe some busted eardrums. Guess he “Felt the Need for Speed”! Next was a minimum radius turn, a square loop, a high roll, the inverted whisper pass, a 110 mph High Alpha Pass, then going to burner, a series of high moves, and a carrier break 180 to trap on the 3-wire demo, with Rob Reider guiding the approach: “Call the Ball, 5 Miles, Roger Ball”, then the LSO screams, “Bolter, Bolter’ Bolter!”, then a long go-around for a slow Photo Pass for the crowd and their 300 mm lenses. Hi-Lo next took the Hornet to the south to join up with the FG-1D Corsair, also holding to the south, to set up for the 2-ship Legacy Flight entry from behind the crowd. The music played “the Navy Hymn” and the 2-ship did a series of tight low passes in front of the crowd. Finally both planes came from behind the crowd again and did a cross-over break separation to the left and right. The Hornet holds while the Corsair breaks left to land. The Hornet next ends the Heritage Flight with two high speed passes and a tight carrier break to land. Neat show!
Next, Skip Stewart went up in his modified 1979 Pitts S-2S bi-wing, now called “Prometheus”, for a nice demo. He did an inverted takeoff two feet off the ground, a series of fast high aerobatic moves, two ribbon cuts at 18 then 10 feet AGL, a few knife edge passes , but his best move was going straight up and standing the airplane on end tail down with a stationary hover at 1,000 feet and not moving for about 15 seconds. Hard to believe his day job is flying an MD-11 for FedEx. Skip then raced Shockwave at 376 mph. The Jet Truck won! The neatest stunt move of the day was when the Pyro Team had to blow off a lot of unused explosives in one big fiery Bang! It formed a slowly rising black smoke doughnut. Skip was still in the air and couldn’t resist doing a series of loops through the doughnut hole center! Definitely not in the Program, but, wow, it looked great!
The Grand Finale of the day was the 5-ship Thunderbirds, minus TB-6, going up for their slightly modified standard performance, but now with only one solo, TB-5, who made up for it with three loud and low Sneak Passes. I’m sure everyone has the TB Routine well memorized by now so we’ll skip the details!
Yes, a fun time was had by all at Oceana 2019. See you next September for Oceana 2020, and we’ll do it all again! PhotoRecon Aviation Magazine wants to thank Jennifer Hayes, PAO at NAS Oceana, for her continued outstanding cooperation to allow us back again this year to cover the Oceana Air Show one more time! Thanks!