Looking Back, the 2008 Rhode Island International Air Show


The 2008 Rhode Island International Air Show was a wide-ranging celebration of military and civilian aviation.


Some of the highlights were: the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows were completing their North American Tour, and arrived with their nine-plus bright red Hawk trainers, accompanied by a new C-17 Globemaster.

Another international visitor was a Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet fighter, on static display.

The USAF’s F-15E Strike Eagle, US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier and US Navy F/A-18C Demo teams provided some loud jet noise. It was and still is rare to have a pair of fast jet demos at an air show, and here were three!

The local Air National Guard C-130Js and Army National Guard UH-60s, UH-1s  and C-23 Sherpa gave a stirring tactical assault demonstration, complete with pyrotechnics.

A quartet of top-notch civilian aerobatic performers were part of the flying show too… how about Julie Clark, Michael Goulian, John Klatt and (even though he is West Coast-based) Sean D. Tucker, the latter returning for the show after numerous past appearances over the Narragansett Bay. Add to that some Smoke and Thunder afterburning jet car excitement, and the civilian side alone would be an entertaining event by itself.

On the ground, the static display contained warbirds from the (then) Quonset Air Museum (since closed), as well as a FedEx Boing 727 cargo jet. Active military aircraft included a Pennsylvania Air Guard A-10, Air Force T-38 from Beale AFB, California, and a Beech T-1A Jayhawk trainer based in Oklahoma.

Additional statics included a US Navy E-2C Hawkeye from Norfolk Virginia, a pair of Civil Air Patrol aircraft (Cessna Skylane and Gippsland GA-8 Airvan), and of course, examples of the locally-based C-130s, UH-60s, and UH-1s.

The show ran for almost 30 years in a row, until it was interrupted by budget cuts, local unit worldwide deployments and then the COVID-19 restrictions over the past few years. Here was one of the more exceptional years in review… but then again, every one of the Quonset Air Shows or Rhode Island International Air Shows were exceptional!

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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