Joint Base Andrews Air and Space Expo 2022
Joint Base Andrews hosted their first air show since 2019 on September 17th and 18th, the 18th being the 75th Birthday of the United States Air Force.
Among us, serious air show fans, it was unfortunate timing and well anticipated that we would need to split time with another major air show down the road at Naval Air Station Oceana. Fortunately, the weather was near perfect for the four day stretch of shows.
Geographically, Andrews is the closest major air show for me. It is a little more driving each day but no hotel stays. I had a media opportunity on Thursday and attended the Friday DOD/STEAM practice Air and Space Expo. On Thursday morning and in the afternoon, I did spend some time outside of the base to catch some arrivals or departures such as the A-10s from Moody AFB and the local F-16s and C-32s.. While inside the base on Thursday, we were able to photograph most of the present static aircraft cleanly.
Notable aircraft on the ramp at this time included a KC-46 from McConnell AFB, C-5 from Dover, C-17 from Charleston, Marine Corps MV-22 in Government colors, a D.C. F-16 with a Washington Nationals tail, and an AC-130 Spectre gunship from the gun side.
Andrews has two parallel runways, 01L/19R (inner) and 01R/19L (outer). The sun rises directly in front of you and, at this time of year, slightly south. It gets over the runway at about 1230 and continues to get better. The afternoon performances will be in awesome light. Of course, that means the early performances are back lighted with some angles to be had to the north.
The first airborne aircraft I photographed was the based, 1st Helicopter Squadron at the north end of the ramp knick named “Muscle Beach”. “Musel” is the call sign of these UH-1N Twin Hueys but I did not find out what the significance of the spelling is. Some of the Hueys elevated and moved back into the grass and shut down. I was in this location for about an hour watching the ups and downs of the 8 or so Hueys. Finally, a group of three, including a special anniversary painted one, lifted off for the flyby of the crowd line. This unit will eventually move on to the Augusta 139 airframe but it will be a few more years with these venerable Hueys.
Also launching was an Andrews based KC-135 of the 459th Air Refueling Wing (call sign “DeeCee”) and four F16s of the 121st Fighter Squadron, “The Capital Guardians”. All aircraft did an early flyby of the crowd. A C-17 had taken off earlier with the Wings of Blue aboard for the opening ceremonies.
As that C-17 was landing, an F-35 took off for some flybys. It was a demo team jet but I do not know if “Beo” was flying it. She would fly a full routine later in the day.
A B-17, “Yankee Lady” and B-25, “Panchito” performed some flybys with pyrotechnics. The B-29 (Fifi) remained parked. This was one of the flybys in celebration of the 75th Birthday. This is a good segway to mention that it was advertised as one of the few shows designated as a celebration of the 75th anniversary. As a long time attendee, I would not describe it as advertised. It felt like a typical Andrews show, not more, not less.
The Flashfire Jet Truck performed and Kent Pietch performed one of three times in his yellow, Interstate Cadet to include his landing on the truck. Thunderbird 1 was seen riding in the passenger seat. About this time, the sun was beginning to cross the runway.
The legendary Patty Wagstaff performed in her red, white and blue Extra and I saw a nice moment when some young ladies in the crowd found out it was her walking along the fence line and had their photo taken with her.
The Coast Guard swooped in with an MH-65 Dauphin helicopter for a Search and Rescue demonstration.
The F-35A Demonstration Team performed the full demonstration.
Rob Holland, the reigning Aerobatic Champion, performed next in his MXS. Just prior to that, the Golden Knights launched for altitude in their Dash 8. They performed in multiple groups to demonstrate relevant chute work and chute failure, also jumping with smoke and flags, touching down perfectly on the mark.
Finally, the USAF Thunderbirds took to the skies to close the show.
I knew I would miss a few things by not attending one of the regular show days such as, the F-35 Heritage flight with a P-51 Mustang, and flybys of two B-1s and a B-2 on Saturday. Also on Saturday, attendees were treated to an Air Force One departure as the President went to the United Kingdom for Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral.
Although not a factor on Friday except for the schools, regular patrons had to park at Fed Ex Field to clear security and bus to Andrews on Saturday and Sunday. This has been in place for many years. It works well until the end when the mass exodus, understandably, overwhelms the bus bridge. As mentioned, this is a local show for me and I advise friends and coworkers on what to expect and to prepare.
Great weather and performances, friends and merchandising made for a great time onboard Joint Base Andrews.
I conclude with an appreciative acknowledgement of the Public Affairs Team led by, Ms. Kylene Yumul and Staff Sergeant, Duhon. They were available and gracious to host and herd a number of cats to photograph the static aircraft. Since these were in afternoon light, it was a real treat. Our access is never possible without their assistance.