Thunder over Utah

The first ever Thunder Over Utah air show took place on March 17th and 18th 2012 at the new St. George municipal airport.  The new airport opened on Jan 13th 2011 and has become the largest airport southern Utah, replacing the original airport located atop Black mesa. The prospect of a new larger airport had been around for years, as the original airport was land locked and had no room for expansion.  The new SGU is built on 1,203 acres SE of down town St. George.Boasting an area 5 times as large as the Black mesa location with a single 9,300’ runway (with future plans to be expanded to 11,500’) the new  SGU can now accommodate regional aircraft up to and including 737,and Airbus 319 types.

All this new and improved real estate made for a great location to host a show with the bloodline of a Thunder over Michigan production.  Bringing the event to southern Utah was a collaborative effort of many including the Yankee Air museum volunteers, Western Sky Aviation museum volunteers, EAA Chapter 936 and the city of St. George airport authority.

The lineup for this first time event read like any major well established airshow, considering  it  a new venue the organizers did a superb job of securing world class performers including.

USN Blue Angels

USAF F-22 Raptor Demo Team

Jeff Boerboon- Aerobatics

USMC MV-22 Osprey

P-51D Mustang

Carol Pilon – Wing walker

Battle field Reenactment, a live WWII battle with armor, infantry and aircraft!


And the following static display aircraft,

•Boeing F/A-18C Hornet

U.S Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron “Blue Angels”

•Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey

VMM-161 – MCAS Miramar

•Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey

VMM-161 – MCAS Miramar

•Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey

VMM-161 – MCAS Miramar

•Lockheed C-130 Hercules

United States Marine Corps

•Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

445th AW – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

•Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker

151st ARW – Salt Lake City International Airport

•Northrop F-5F Tiger II

VFC-13 – NAS Fallon

•Northrop T-38 Talon

509th BW – Whiteman Air Force Base

•North American P-51D Mustang “Hell-er Bust” Mark Peterson

•North American P-51D Mustang “Section Eight”

Jeff Driscoll

•North American P-51D Mustang Wee Willie

Steve Hinton

•Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F

Western Sky Warbird Aviation Museum

•Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis

Western Sky Warbird Aviation Museum

•Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15uti

Western Sky Warbird Aviation Museum

•BAC Mk. III Jet Provost

Western Sky Warbird Aviation Museume

•Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star “Blue Angels” (Did not Show)

Kay Eckardt

•T-6 Texan

Rob Hertberg

•Boeing PT-17 Stearman “Third Strike Wingwalking”

Carol Pilon

•Extra Aircraft 330 SC

Jeff Boerboon

•PZL-104 Wilga ‘WilgaBeast’

Cory Robin

We attended the event on Saturday along with an estimated 30,000 air show fans on the field and another 5,000 spectators outside the fence line.   What a great sight it was to see the F-22 Raptor blaze into the cool Utah air and perform its display against the picturesque landscape that only clear western skies can offer.  Well that did not last long as threatening weather started to roll in around midday, the show went on as it should.  The winds were gusting as the Blue Angels took to the sky and became worse as the Blues continued to perform a perfectly flawless flight demonstration considering the conditions.   As the blues touched down the winds seemed to get higher, approaching ( Port a John VMU unstick speed).   It was time to bail, so Dave and I made our way over to our friends at the Western Sky Aviation museum to take refuge and protect our camera gear.  This was a good move as the 3 P-51s and a few other aircraft were being rushed into the museums large hangar. The doors were closed and we were stuck in a hangar with 3 P-51s and ladders to shoot pictures from above. After about 2 hrs we decided to head back to Vegas and skip the events on Sunday.  This proved to be a miscalculation as the
Sunday show was said to have had perfect weather and a wonderful show was had by all.

Oh well,  we hope to be back next year and stick it out as you never know , the day you decide to skip could be the best day for photography.

Thanks again to all who made this show a success. We look forward to many more.






Joe Kates

Joe Kates is the founder of Photorecon. Joe has been into aviation since he was a child and has a incredible amount of knowledge to do with planes or aviation in general. Today Joe is the owner and Managing Editor of Photorecon.

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