The Rochester International Airshow 2023
For the first time since 2019, The Rochester International Airshow was held on August 12th and 13th at the Greater Rochester International Airport.
I knew about this show but it was not a time of year that I typically travelled to my hometown region of Western New York. The organizers of this airshow are the same that organize the Greatest Show on Turf down the road at Geneseo, a regular airshow for me. So, although it was a new show, there was a comfortable familiarity in seeing my Genny Family.
Indeed, my thought was that this is really a continuation of that Greatest Show on Turf, minus the turf and with some more military statics and acts to include the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.
It is always interesting to attend an airshow at an operating commercial airport. The Air Boss and Air Traffic Control have their hands full with the cross coordination of show aircraft and passenger aircraft. Gaps are built into the timeline to get a block of aircraft departures out and at other times, a performer can go into a hold while another aircraft lands. We saw more of this on the Friday practice session. On Saturday and Sunday, a quick check of the flight tracker showed that a number of commercial aircraft were in the hold waiting on the block of time or the completion of the Thunderbirds routine.
Greater Rochester International Airport has three runways. From our vantage point on the airshow grounds, we face due North. The closest runway to us is Runway 07/25, a 4,000 ft commuter runway, making it approximately 20 degrees deviant from our vantage point. This made for a “crooked” show line at times since it is a reference for the performers. The other runways beyond were 10/28 at 6,400 feet and 04/22 at 8,001 feet which was used by the airlines.
The first flight of the day, Saturday was Jason Flood in his red Pitts S-1S. There was still some light rain in the area. A tough task for an open cockpit aircraft.
As the skies began to clear, Rick Volker took off in his pink Su-26 against a dark cloud backdrop.
The High Flight Mustangs team of Lou Horschel and Ariel Luedi performed formation flying in their P-51s.
C-47A,” W-7″ was the only Geneseo aircraft in attendance due to weather and windy conditions forecasted. It launched daily for the flag drop and parachute team jump.The Misty Blues all women parachute team performed and brought in the large American Flag during the National Anthem opening.
A funny thing happened during practice day. As Amanda Scheffler landed, we noticed that no one was standing by to recover the flag. A few of us ran out from the media area and tried to wrangle it on quite a breezy day. Finally, we turned it downwind and managed to gather it up. On the show days, the Boy Scouts were assigned the task.
Just like Geneseo, Patriotism is observed around noon featuring the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Riders. I give them credit for their discipline as the ceremony seemed to be running behind and they stood, holding flags for quite a long time.
Two A-10s from Kansas City were a late addition to the show. They were both a static display behind barricades and a convenient flyby act as one of them launched and returned from a training mission. I overheard the pilot say that he could have done more if the Air Force had more notice.
Trevor Rafferty, from Canada, performed in his unique, throaty, red and white Pitts 12. I was told that in sunglasses and a ball cap, he is my “brother from another mother”.
P-51 Mustang “Quicksilver” performed a solo routine. The Class of ‘45 was supposed to display here but the Corsair dropped out. I had terrible luck with Corsairs this season.
The Coast Guard performed a Search and Rescue routine with the litter and parked on the airshow grounds for static display. From my location I could see a cloud of grass clippings rising from the rotor downwash as it descended for landing.
Redline is now performing with two Vans RV-8s again and did a great job. Ken Rieder is now flying with his son, Austin. Ken’s in-cockpit audio was featured often during the display.
Michael Goulian performed in the final slot before the Thunderbirds as he put his familiar yellow Extra 330SC through it’s paces.
The Thunderbirds closed the show every day and we saw two practices on Friday.
Although there were a number of static cancellations, there were two notable aircraft on hand. The first was an MQ-9 Reaper Drone from the Syracuse Air National Guard. The drones are co-operated by the 174th Attack Wing of Syracuse and the 107th Attack Wing at Niagara Falls.
The other notable static was an aircraft I had never seen before. It arrived late on Friday and when I saw it from afar, I thought I was looking at a T-33. Not so. It was a Hispano Saeta 200 jet trainer used by Spain and designed by Willy Messerschmitt. It has two small engines in the nose, spits fire on startup, screams on the ground but sounded pretty normal on takeoff. Needless to say, I waited for it to depart before I left the grounds.
The reason this show was put on my list for the first time was the pending retirement of long time airshow producer, Dave Cooper. Officially, this was his last show although I am sure I will still see him as an advisor imparting his vast knowledge and experience on the next generation. Thank you, Dave!
My thanks, also, to the other organizers of the Rochester International Airshow. I had a great time and even enjoyed some family time at the show.