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2004 Lemoore Naval Air Station Airshow
March 22, 2004 - Page 2
Photo Report
Story and photos by:
Rick Pisio

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At precisely 10:50 the show started. Leaving the ground first was Chuck Wentworth's FG1-D Corsair accompanied by an F/A-18 Super Hornet and an F-16 Falcon. Chuck left the airspace briefly as the F-16 and F-18 made a high speed pass after the national anthem which was followed by the F-16 aerial demonstration. At the conclusion of the F-16 Demo the F-18 returned, along with Corsair, for the Navy Heritage Flight demonstration. The two Navy fighters from different eras made a number of passes before breaking off for landing.

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The next act on the morning agenda was John Colver in his SNJ "War Dog." John's SNJ is not the most glamorous plane on the ramp but he flies his routine with skill and precision. His routine was dedicated to all the veterans that were in attendance that day, which were quite a few.

John's performance was followed by the OK3 Airshow team of Nadim AbuHaidar and Greg Peterson in the Edge 540 and Extra 300L. Both men were former Navy F-18 pilots with Nadim accumulating over 1400 hours in the F/A-18 before leaving active duty in 1999. Greg Peterson was stationed at Lemoore for eleven years with the 3 years as an F/A-18 Tactics Instructor and his final three years as an F/A-18 Primary Flight Instructor.

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Next it was the Navy's turn to take to the air with a pair of F/A-18E Super Hornet's and an aerial refueling demonstration. Both planes simultaneously took to the air and rendesvous off to the north of the airfield. When they returned they were connected by a drogue hose trailing from the lead plane. After the two Hornets landed yet another F/A-18 started the Hornet Flight Demonstration with a slow roll on take off and then orbited the field with it's gear down. It turned out that a landing gear warning light had come on during the start of the routine. Another F/A-18 was sent up to do a visual inspection.

While they brought the Hornet down for a landing gear inspection Greg Melby took off in his Pitts S2B which was followed by Bill Reesman and his Red Bull Mig-17F. The irony in Bill's performance is that he spent 24 years as a Air Force and Air Guard fighter pilot training to fight the very aircraft he now owns & flies. Bill's 600 mph, 8g performance, did an excellent job of demonstrating the adversary that American fighter pilots faced during the Vietnam War.

The F/A-18 Flight Demonstration once again took to the air, this time without incident, to complete its performance. The Navy demonstration was followed by Chuck Lischer in his Newgold F-260, the NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue demonstration, and Eric Beard in his Yak 54 "Russian Thunder".

It was now time for the Air Force to get back into the action with an A-10 flight demonstration. After the Air Force pilot put the Warthog through it's paces demonstrating why it is such an excellent ground attach aircraft it was joined by the Planes of Fame P-51 Mustang "Spam Can" for the Air Force Heritage Flight. Steve Hinton, flying the Mustang, lead the pair of aircraft past the crowd a number of times before finishing with a pass from behind and crossover break.

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After the A-10 and P-51 broke formation the Warthog was brought back to earth while Steve Hinton took the Mustang through a number of high speed passes and aerobatic maneuvers. I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a Mustang perform an aerobatic routine and judging by the expression on my son's face he had never seen one in the 15+ airshows that he has been to in the last 5 years.

By now it was getting close to 3:00 in the afternoon and you could feel the anticipation building within the crowd. Before the Blue Angels started their show Fat Albert demonstrated the RATO take-off followed by a high speed pass (if a C-130 can make a high speed pass) and ending with a short field landing with a reverse taxi.

Now the crowd was ready for the stars of the show. As the Blue Angels began their march down the flight line, climbing into their jets, the spectators pushed their way forward to get a better look.

This was the second show of the Blue Angel's 2004 season with the first performance occurring one week prior in El Centro. As they flew their routine all the excitement and noise was present but my son started to point out some of the flaws in their routine. "Number 3 didn't have his smoke on, Number 2 was low,..." I only wish he was that critical about his own schoolwork. The Blues have a long airshow season ahead and plenty of shows to achieve their usual level of perfection.

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As the Blue Angels finished their show and came in for a landing the masses started streaming for the parking lot. I knew better. There was only one way in and one way out and the road out would be a parking lot for quite a while. My son and I decided to take the casual route and cruise the static displays one more time, buy some ice cream bars, and get all of the Blue Angel's pilot’s autographs. If aviation has the equivalent of rock stars then the Blue Angels are it. Lines formed in front of each pilot as they signed programs and the leaflets that were handed out.

One ritual that my son and I have after any airshow we go to is to ask each other what we liked best about the flying that day. From my perspective I always include the Heritage Flights at the top of the list. Being a fan of the warbirds I'm always in awe of the contrast between whatever modern day jet is in formation with a piston powered fighter from 60 years ago.

My son's answer surprised me. I was expecting of course the Blue Angels to be at the top of his list, the F/A-18 demo, or anything loud and fast. Instead his favorite part of the show was the Steve Hinton's P-51 demonstration. He has seen Mustang's fly before, he's seen them round the pylons at Reno, but he had never before had the opportunity to see one perform aerobatics. I wondered when he would get to see one again.

As we headed back north on our three hour drive back to the Bay Area, reflecting on our first airshow of the 2004 season, my son and I looked forward to the next airshow. Where would that be and when?

All in all it was a good day.

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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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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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