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Wings over Gillespie Air Show 2006
Gillespie, California
April 21-23, 2006
Airshow Photo Report
Story and photos by: Victor and Jeffrey Archer

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Air Group One the San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force put on a great air show at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, CA.  This show was the twelfth annual event, and those who came out in the cloudy and sometimes rainy weather were treated to the quality displays that have become a tradition.

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I went down on Friday, a pre-show/media day to go up for an air-to-air shoot, which turned out to be a very interesting journey. I got to go up in the CAF’s Convair C-131 with a group of five T-34’s. The runway at Gillespie is just barely long enough to get the C-131 in and out of. We got to the end of the runway, ran the engines up and let the brakes off and away we went, almost, about halfway down the take off run was aborted and we turned around for another go. After getting bounced around climbing out through the local mountains we were cleared to buzz a couple airports and fly over San Diego Bay. The weather was great along the coast and that’s where I got most of the good shots.

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The weather did not look to promising for photography on Saturday so I decided to wait and go back on Sunday, which turned out to be a good choice. My son Jeff and I got down to the field a little early and after looking at some of the clouds I thought it might be a good idea to get an umbrella. We took some real nice shots of the static aircraft and then setup our chairs, right after that a little black cloud came over the field and it rained for about ten minutes. We popped out the umbrella and hung out there in the rain knowing it wasn’t going to last long.

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The show started with fly-by’s from a group of T-34’s and the Condor Squadron’s T-6’s. The T-34’s did a missing man formation to start the show. There was a little break in the action and we wanted to say hi to Skyraider Bob and we also got to meet Alan Anders who was flying the other Skyraider an AD4-NA model. It’s always a pleasure chatting with Bob and he described the "Flight of the Intruder" demo to us so we knew where the action would be. On one of the passes they came from behind the crowd and did an under- over split, separated and then came at each other head to head.

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John Collver and his T-6 "WarDog" put on a great aerobatic display performing slow rolls, loops and a few low passes during his routine. If you could ever use the word graceful and T-6 together it would be to describe John Collver’s old fashion style of aerobatics. Next was the slow and antique aircraft. The "Big Panda" an Antonov An-2 was showing the crowd how slow it could fly which was quite a sight considering its size. With flaps and slats and everything hanging out it just floated there in the sky. There was a Birddog and a Bulldog and two beautiful Stearmans, a 1930 model C3-R one of only seven remaining and Bob Simons Oshkosh award winning 1941 model B75N1.

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Now here’s something you don’t see very often, Skyraider Bob in the back seat of his T-28 Fennec. Bob’s Daughter Danna went up with Alan Anders to do some formation flybys. Seeing the Skyraider flying next to the T-28 made for a real interesting size comparison. The Thunder Delfins, an all L-29 jet demo team went up for some formation demonstrations as well as a group of T-34 Mentors. An aerobatic performance by Chuck Lischer and his F-260 came next.

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The Condor Squadron put on a mock battle with their T-6’s. They were accompanied by a P-40 from the Planes of Fame Museum and Chuck Hall in his P-51D Six Shooter.

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The T-6’s really didn’t have much of a chance against the P-40 and the P-51. The show ended with some great flybys from an F4U Corsair and a TBM Avenger.

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The Wings over Gillespie air show is always a show I enjoy going to. The air field is small but usually jammed full of aircraft and your close to all the flying action, looking forward to next years show and I hope I see you there.

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I would like to thank Steve Real, Laura Scotty and everyone else at the CAF San Diego Wing, AIR GROUP ONE for providing a fantastic opportunity to cover their air show!

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For more information about Air Group One: http://www.cafairgroup1.org/

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