Miramar Air Show 2014

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MCAS Miramar Air Show “Celebrating the Marine Air-Ground Task Force”

Southern California’s largest free event was back this year at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Ca. from October 3-5. After a one year hiatus, this incredible show roared back to life with the celebration of 101 years of the MAGTF.

With temperatures soaring close to the century mark, tens of thousands of spectators packed the grandstands, box seats, and blanket seating areas to watch the Southland’s premier aviation event and in particular, the MAGTF demonstration.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force demo displays the coordinated use of close-air support, artillery and infantry forces. As the demonstration began, several aircraft were preparing to demonstrate the refueling capabilities of the KC-130 Hercules. One Hercules had hooked up with a F/A-18 Hornet and an AV-8B Harrier, while the second KC-130 had begun refueling two CH-53E Super Stallions. Just before they reached the crowdline, an F/A-18C Hornet came screaming by the crowd at low altitude on a simulated reconnaissance run. As the Hercules passed the west end of the show with fighters and helos in tow, the two AV-8B Harriers were called upon to clear out some enemy forces that the recon Hornet had spotted. More large explosions rocked the battlespace as the Harriers eliminated their targets. As they cleared the airspace, the Marine’s moved in with two UH-1Y Venoms to fast rope in forward observers to call in naval gunfire. Two more large plumes of fire and smoke erupted from show center as the naval guns off shore ‘delivered’ their ordanance. The two Venoms swung back around and quickly whisked away the Marines by a method called spy rigging, where the Marines are clipped onto a rope hanging below the UH-1Y. As soon as they were safely clear of the area, the next wave of the assault began. Two AH-1W Super Cobras follwed by another Venom conducted simulated rocket and strafing runs on the enemy positions in preperation for the ground assault. As the Venom and the Super Cobras then provided overwatch, three MV-22B Ospreys moved in with a platoon sized element of Marines in their bellies to push through the objective on foot. As soon as the Marines had exited the Ospreys, the MV-22s leaped into the air and exited the battlefield. As the Marines bounded from position to position, the Platoon Leader radioed in for close air support. F/A-18Cs and AV-8Bs rolled in hot, popping up high to aquire their targets, and then rolled back over at the top to spin their ordanance. A series of explosions sent shockwaves across the objective as the tracked and wheeled vehicles of the Marine Corp came in for additional fire and logistical support. Three CH-53E Super Stallions brought in a HMMV slung underneath one, with ammo and supplies in the other two. Once their cargo had been off loaded to the assault force, two M1A1 Abrams, followed by two LAVs, a HMMV, and two 7-ton transports with a 155mm howitzer in tow came charging through the battlefield. As the Marines neared securing the objective, the Platoon Leader called in for additional close air support to ensure total domination of the battlespace. Once again the roar of Hornets and Harriers could be heard as the fixed wing support rolled in on their targets, with the final pass calling for a napalm run. Hunderds of feet of earth erupted all at once and the Marines had won the day. The Commander then called for a ‘pass in review’ of all participating units and several formations filled the sky as the ground troops walked the crowdline shaking enthusiastic show goer’s hands.

Along with it’s famous MAGTF demo, there were a few ‘firsts’ for Miramar, as well as a ‘last’, or farewell if you will.  As the MAGTF demo was completed, we were treated to the final flyby at an air show of 4 CH-46 Sea Knights, or more commonly known as ‘Phrogs’, with the lead helo being painted up in it’s original Vietnam markings. One more enormous wall of fire erupted behind them and the MAGTF demonstration was officially complete.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration was just one of many highlights at the 2014 MCAS Miramar Air Show.
Additional military demonstrations were conducted by:

• The MV-22B Osprey
• The AV-8B Harrier
• The United States Army Parachute Team ‘The Golden Knights’
• The Untted States Navy Parachute Team ‘The Leap Frogs’
• Miramar’s first public demonstration of the Marine Corp’s new F-35B Lightning II
• The United States Navy Flight Demonstration Team ‘The Blue Angels’ along with their C-130 support aircraft       affectionately known as ‘Fat Albert’.

Civilian acts were performed by:

• Sean Tucker in his Oracle Challenger
• Steve Stavrakakisin his Romanian IAR
• Otto the Helicopter
• A T-39 Tribute to Bob Hoover
• John Collver in his AT-6 Texan ‘War Dog’
• Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Car (which raced John Collver each day)
• Shockwave Jet Truck
• Bret Willat in his Sailplane
• Chuck ‘Hollywood’ Aaron in the Red Bull Helo & the Red Bull Air Force winged suit Jumpers
• The Patriots Jet Team (6 IL-39s)

On Saturday evening a ‘night show’ was held involving some of the daytime performers, both jet dragsters, a F/A-18 which did numerous afterburner passes before ‘racing’ the Smoke and Thunder jet car, a great fireworks show, and a incredible pyro display culminating in a massive wall of fire that lights up the night sky for miles in all directions.

If you’ve never been to the MCAS Miramar Air Show, you have really been missing out. I highly suggest that you make a point in attending next year. The Marines really know how to put on a show and keep you at the edge of your seat.

I’d like to thank all the personnel in the 3rd Marine Air Wing’s Public Affairs Office for their generosity and incredible hospitality throughout the weekend.

Steve Lewis

Steve is a Southern California based photographer living in the Los Angeles area.

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