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2004 Lemoore Naval Air Station Airshow
March 22, 2004 Page -1
Photo Report
Story and photos by:
Rick Pisio

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As you drive east on Highway 198 toward the town of Lemoore it is difficult to see signs of the Navy's prime West Coast Tactical Naval Air Station. Even as you pass through the South Gate of the base the few airplanes mounted on poles give little indication of what lies in the Operations Area 5 miles to the north.

Lemoore Naval Air Station sits in the middle of California's Central Valley. The base serves as the Master Training Center for the carrier-based strike fighter squadrons of the Pacific Fleet. Its two 13,500 foot runways are used by the 20 fleet squadrons that call Lemoore home. Officially Lemoore is called Reeves Field after Rear Admiral Joseph M. Reeves whose foresight laid the the foundation for modern aircraft carrier strike forces.

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My airshow partner for the day, as he has been for the last 5 years, was my 10 year old son. This was our first airshow of the 2004 season and I had some concerns about conditions for the March date. The Fresno/Visalia area of California's Central Valley can be a tricky place to predict the weather in the late winter and early spring months. The biggest threat during this time of the year can be the low lying tule fog that the Central Valley is known for. Luck was with us and it was shaping up to be a good spring day with clear skies, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the comfortable 80 degree range.

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We arrived in the parking area, which is actually the ramp area for the VFA-125 Rough Raiders, shortly after 8:00 A.M. We quickly grabbed our hats, lawn chairs, camera bag, and Camelback from the trunk and headed into the flow of people moving toward the airshow area. To the north of the parking area was a large number of F/A-18 Hornet fighters, maybe a few hundred in all. I told my son to figure out how many there were by counting the number of tails he saw and dividing it by two.

We now had two hours to spend while we were waiting for the opening ceremonies and the first flying acts. I walked the static displays which had a B-25 Mitchell, T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentor, Hawker Sea Fury, Hawker Hunter, the Yak 11 "Blyack Moose", the Commemerative Air Force's C-46 "China Doll", as well as a number of other private and military airplanes. Also on display was the Navy version of the Joint Strike Fighter. I wasn't sure if it was a mockup or the real thing. If it was a mockup they had me fooled.

The downside of arriving early to get a good spot is that it also means waiting a long time for the flying to start. The plus side is you get a chance to meet some of the people sitting around you. I spent the time talking with a retired Army Sergeant sitting next to me. Tom had joined the Navy in 1946 and after 4 years at sea he transferred to the Army because he wanted his feet on solid ground. The army promptly placed him on a tugboat in the Aleutians. He had also seen combat in the Korean war as an infantryman. Tom retired from the Army in 1972 when he no longer had room on his sleeves for more hash marks.

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On my other side were Doris and Glen. Glen was a retired Naval Aviator who served as an SNJ instructor pilot in the Second World War. During his career he taught many pilots how to survive a carrier landing. During John Colver's performance later in the morning you could see the wave of nostalgia washing over his face as he watched the SNJ go through it's aerobatic routine.

on to page two>>>

click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge
click on airshow photography to enlarge click on digital image to enlarge click on digital photo to enlarge click on digital airplane photography to enlarge

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