2003 Vectren Dayton Airshow

July 17-20, 2003

Airshow report written on July 24, 2003.

The history of the 2003 Vectren Dayton Airshow and its evolution goes all the way back to Thanksgiving in 2001, as the dates of the show had been set and plans for an incredible airshow were underway. As time went by, the French National Aerobatic Team, the Patrouille de France had agreed to participate in the show, but the situation in the Middle East and France's budget crunch led to their withdraw from the event. Seeing the fact that all three North American jet teams would be attending brought every airshow fan and aviation freak from all over the world to converge on Dayton, Ohio in the second full week of July. I happened to be one of those people who got the opportunity of a lifetime to attend this "mother of all airshows," as quoted by announcer Rob Reider.

This airshow report will reflect on those days that I had shot the complete show - however, with my bad luck and the fact that attending the show with my parents (who don't like getting up very early for any airshow), I missed out on shooting the whole day on Thursday. I shot all day Friday and Sunday, as shooting all day Saturday seemed impossible with the amount of battery I had left over and however much I would have been able to get. My bad luck also had me shooting the two worst days, in terms of weather. I will, however, point out a few things that did happen on Thursday and Saturday that I happened to catch.

My parents, my best friend, and myself took a 9½-hour drive out to Dayton to see the show and spent the Wednesday prior to the show at the United States Air Force Museum, located at Wright-Patterson AFB. The USAF Museum had always been a place I've wanted to go to for my entire life, and it seemed that very dream had become reality. I enjoyed everything I saw at the museum, with the exception of the Presidential and Experimental aircraft, which I didn't get a chance to see. Oh well... at least the B-36 was in with the other Cold War aircraft and I was happy to see that. I'll save the rest about the museum for the gallery, where I'll try to explain everything on that page.

Thursday was the first public day of the Vectren Dayton Airshow, and it also proved to have one of the better weather forecasts. The clouds stayed way outside of the Dayton area, giving the airspace all around Dayton International Airport a perfectly clear blue sky. Since the show was at Dayton International Airport, it had to remain open to allow commercial traffic to arrive and depart. The airport has three runways - the main show runway was 6L/24R, the commercial traffic using 6R/24L - which was behind the crowd, and the runway that the Ford Tri-Motor, Spirit of St. Louis, Taperwing, and DC-3 used to give rides out to spectators willing to fork out money to fly for a few minutes. A couple of Hueys from the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation also gave out rides for $40 a pop - the cheapest of all the aircraft.

Not all of the aircraft for the static displays were present on Thursday. I'll mention what did show up when I get around to Saturday's portion of the airshow report. The Snowbirds put on a perfect show, as the Blue Angels continued to struggle to put on a perfect display. They seemed to be lacking, in terms of dead time between each maneuver. The Thunderbirds put on a magnificent display - the first of many for the weekend, and they somehow outdid their performance over the Blue Angels! The single-ship demonstrations were absolutely perfect, with the exception that Capt. Renegar flew over the wrong runway for his performance but corrected in time to fly in front of the crowd instead of behind the crowd. The Heritage Flight on Thursday was one that should be appreciated for a lifetime. Capt. Renegar in the F-15 flew in formation with Dale Snodgrass, Jim Beasley, and Ed Shipley - all three pilots flying P-51s. The warbird flight included a Guinness World Record attempt at the longest wall of fire - 2,800 feet. That record was accomplished and deemed official, as Guinness members were on hand to witness and document the event. Arrivals onto 24R, the active show runway, included a German Tornado and a pair of F-14B Tomcats from VF-32. One act that had a little mishap was Nancy Lynn's performance. Her son, Peter Lynn, announced for her and a little mishap over the PA led him to say something that should have been bleeped.

I had no time to tour the static displays on Friday, as I wanted to shoot the entire show. The CBS Early Show had an area set up by the hot ramp and the C-141C Starlifter Hanoi Taxi to interview some of the performers that were on hand at the show - most notably Patty Wagstaff. The show opened up with the Liberty Parachute Team jumping out of a Cessna 208 Caravan and Bob Wagner circling the flag jumper with his Taperwing. Two members of the Liberty Parachute Team demonstrated using a candy cane in the sky, with the Canadian and American National Anthems being sung. The other two jumpers carried flags - the first being a POW/MIA flag, the other being a massive US flag. After the final jumper landed, Bob Wagner made a pass in the Taperwing before landing. The weather on Friday wasn't as good as Thursday's, as cirrus clouds had obscured the show area and it was working on getting worse and worse as the day drew on.

An F-117, the Bleriot, and a Wright B Flyer had to fight for the runway, if you want to put it that way. The F-117 took off first to head out before coming back to Dayton to provide several flybys as the Flyer and Bleriot took to the sky. The Bleriot had a very interesting takeoff run as he didn't perform a straight takeoff - his takeoff was on an arc and it almost cost the pilot, but he recovered the aircraft in time. The Bleriot and the Flyer performed several passes with Danny Clisham telling the story of how powered flight back in 1910 was. This was a very good way of showcasing aviation history at the early part of the 20th Century, and it was just part of the pageant of flight showcase that was to take part during various segments of each day at Dayton. The Bleriot landed on the grass at show right as the Wright B Flyer landed on the show runway.

The US Navy was up next to showcase one of their larger aircraft - the P-3C Orion. The P-3 demo put on by VP-30 is one of the better demonstrations that I've seen, as the demonstrations that VP-64 and VP-66 put on at Willow Grove consist of only one pass - two, if we're lucky. In the middle of the P-3 demonstration, a Piper Pawnee took off on the active show runway with Manfred Radius on tow. As the P-3 landed, another Navy aircraft took to the air for its demonstration - the F/A-18F Super Hornet. This demonstration of the Super Hornet was by far, the best demonstration I've ever seen. It also incorporates many of the maneuvers most commonly seen in a regular Hornet demonstration. Plus, he was carrying an enormous amount of vapor, making for some incredible shots.

Two SNJs from the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, the Cloud Dancer P-51D Mustang, and the Hawker Sea Fury Riff Raff took to the air to simulate one part of the Golden Age of Aviation that is alive and well today, but in a different location - Air Racing. These aircraft performed a simulated air racing demonstration the way that it was in 1949 in Cleveland, Ohio. I never knew how exciting air racing could be, but it has to be the most dangerous form of racing with any kind of machine. Aeroshell team leader Alan Henley called for the race to begin as Gene McNeely in his SNJ took an early lead from Jimmy Leeward in the P-51 and astronaut "Hoot" Gibson in the Sea Fury. The Cloud Dancer P-51 was declared the winner of this race, but with an additional lap or two, the winner of the race couldn't be determined. Manfred Radius came back at about 6,000 feet to begin his performance in the Salto sailplane. His signature maneuver in the sailplane is the attempt on the inverted ribbon cut. On Thursday, Manfred wasn't able to cut the ribbon, but he got underneath it. On Friday, he missed it by going just a foot or two above the ribbon.

When Manfred landed, Julie Clark took to the air to set up for her performance in the Mopar Parts T-34 Mentor. Her performance is more of a patriotic-based demonstration filled with very low-level aerobatics in an aircraft with a very beautiful paint job. I was impressed with her performance and it was also the first time I had seen solo aerobatics in a T-34. I'd be looking forward to seeing her again at another airshow. As she landed, Nikolay Timofeev had the stage in his Su-26. Being a world aerobatic champion, I was expecting a hardcore aerobatic performance, similar to Michael Goulian's. I wasn't very impressed with the amount of aerobatics Nikolay uses in the beginning, but I was impressed with the very crisp roll rate that he has with the aircraft. Also, this will sound weird, but knowing that Nikolay was from Russia, the choice of music he has somehow reminds me of communism. Don't ask me why - it just seems that way. However, his performance picks up towards the end and the music he uses at that point helps emphasize hardcore aerobatics.

The F-117 came back around to perform several passes over the flight line at Dayton International Airport. This F-117 demonstration was a little more spirited than what I have seen in years past, as he dipped the wings more and showed off the aircraft in a more aggressive demonstration. He performed four passes and the fifth pass was actually a low pass over the runway prior to landing. As he landed, the Golden Knights took the stage and their announcer parachuted down with the POW/MIA flag. As he landed and took the microphone, the remaining jumpers came down and performed a mass jump, utilizing a couple of jumpers to perform canopy relative work. The Golden Knights don't seem to do too much canopy relative work as other parachute teams, but I think they should have a demonstration dedicated to just that.

A chairman's welcome followed the Golden Knights' performance and immediately afterwards was Jimmy Franklin's performance in the Jet Waco. This is the most unusual airshow performance I have ever seen in my entire life! Listening to the radial engine in the Waco and followed by the turbojet underneath is the most unusual sound in the world, as well as seeing a biplane climbing straight up at more than 200 mph. Friday's performance was simply his solo display, as he does have his son Kyle wingwalk on the aircraft.

The Snowbirds started taxiing down to runway 24R to begin their takeoff sequence and depart the area to set up for their performance. Because of the clouds closing in the Dayton area, the Snowbirds were relegated to fly their low show. This was another perfect show that the Snowbirds flew and even with the low ceilings and threatening clouds, they put on a great show for everyone. After the Snowbirds landed, Bob Davis took to the sky in his Sukhoi Su-29. His performance isn't the best in the world, but it's not too bad. After Bob landed, Delta Airlines DC-3 and the Ford Tri-Motor took to the skies as Danny Clisham told the story of how flying in those airliners was like in 1935 and 1927, respectively. Both airliners flew in a review with two passes each before the Tri-Motor landed, followed by the DC-3.

The three P-51s flown by Dale Snodgrass, Jim Beasley, and Ed Shipley took off and exited the show area, giving the stage to the F-15 Eagle West Coast Demonstration Team. Because of the low cloud ceiling, Capt. Renegar was forced to fly a flat show performance in the F-15 and it was a very good demonstration, might I add. His low show performance does not include any maneuvers that require climbing, but he did perform a flat eight. After his performance, he joined up with the three P-51s to fly yet another incredible Heritage Flight. I should also mention that the Heritage Flights at Dayton were the first times I've seen a modern fighter lead the formation. It's usually the slower warbird that leads the formation because it is slower.

The next act to take to the skies happened to be my all-time favorite civilian aerobatic pilot - Sean Tucker. His performance never ceases to disappoint, although it seems like this year he's starting to narrate the second half of his performance more than he used to in previous years. I happen to like that new feature. As Sean landed, the next act was to be the ultra-rare appearance of a U-2S Dragon Lady at an airshow. U-2s have been in static displays but Dayton was treated to a couple of flybys from this aircraft. His first pass was a straight and level and with that pass, the U-2 flew over very quietly. His second pass was a loud pass and steep climb and disappearing into the clouds. It was at that time when the pilot had reported a problem with its engine and he diverted to WPAFB instead of taking a chance to head back home to Beale AFB in California. It was a real treat seeing the Dragon Lady flying, as it might be the only time I'd see one fly.

The second of the jet teams, the US Navy Blue Angels took to the air next. Fat Albert did his usual awesome demonstration of JATO, but it seemed that he used a much longer takeoff roll than at previous airshows. The Blue Angel pilots spent Friday flying their flat show and to be honest, I thought this was their worst demonstration ever. Their timing was way off, the line abreast flat pass was flown over the wrong runway (6R/24L instead of 6L/24R), and there was a lot of dead time between many of the maneuvers. They even screwed up their 4-plane crossover. Other than that, most of the solo maneuvers were fine.

After the Blue Angels came the four AT-6 Texans from the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team as they departed to set up for their performance as Patty Wagstaff waited to takeoff and perform. As she set up to begin her actual performance, a 727-200F parked across from the crowd line taxied around and parked as Patty began her aerobatic performance. I never get tired of seeing Patty fly... she's a great person to hang out with, as I've hung out with her at Oceana last year and I regret not being able to hang out with her at Dayton. After Patty landed, it was time for the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team to take the stage. Being the first time that I've seen them, I was very impressed with their performance and I hope to see them many times in the future... although it will be rather difficult to catch them at another airshow in 2003. They actually reminded me of the old Six of Diamonds aerobatic team back when they flew more than three aircraft, going back prior to 1998.

It was now time for the warbirds to take the stage. The P-51D Mustangs Bald Eagle and Frenesi, flown by Jim Beasley and Ed Shipley, took to the air first. Taking part in the World War II era were the P-40E Warhawk, P-38 Lightning, P-51C Mustang Red Tail, and the P-47D Thunderbolt Hun Hunter. The takeoff order went like this: P-38, P-40, P-51, and P-47. As each aircraft flew over the show area, pyrotechnic explosions provided by Rich's Incredible Pyro helped tell the story of World War II. As the aircraft flew by, the explosions got bigger and bigger until the big one came along. The P-38 and P-40 buzzed the wrong runway - exactly like what the Blue Angels did not too long ago. After the P-47 and P-51 went by, the P-38 and P-40 came back around - this time on the hot run, the run for the wall of fire. Thursday's wall of fire was 2,800 feet long and Friday's wall was to be 2,900 feet long. The P-47 and P-51 came in right behind the P-38 and P-40 to provide a spectacular effect for the wall. This wall was a new record.

The four fighters came back around in the same formations as before, however, breaking to land and letting the airport crew put out any or all of the fires that were left behind from the wall of fire. As those warbirds landed, Jim Beasley and Ed Shipley came back around in their P-51 Mustangs to perform formation aerobatics. They are known as the Horsemen and this performance was beautiful, to say the least. The P-51 is my all-time favorite warbird, as it has the most distinct sound out of any fighter and it is the best-looking warbird, in my opinion. Shipley and Beasley's performance was one of the best P-51 performances I've seen - that's not including Dale Snodgrass' Mustang demonstration.

As the Philly-area Mustangs and their pilots (Shipley and Beasley are from the Philadelphia area) landed, an F-86 Sabre took off and took part in the Korean War era performance. The pilot of the Sabre didn't do too much except some aerobatics, which, in my opinion, weren't really what was needed for that aspect for the show, but was welcomed since Snort didn't have his Sabre. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation did a tactical demonstration with their UH-1H Huey, OH-6 Cayuse, and AH-1G Cobra helicopters. What was nice with this demonstration were the maneuvers that the Cobra and Cayuse pilots were flying. I had never seen military (or former military) helicopters fly at those attitudes (steep climbing and turning). As the helicopters landed, Nancy Lynn was up next. I really wasn't impressed with her performance as she kept it above 500 feet (which I do understand), but she didn't have the "hardcoreness" that many of the other aerobatic pilots at the show implemented in their show. Perhaps Nancy could have traded time slots with Patty.

After Nancy landed, it was time for the third and final jet team to take the stage, the USAF Thunderbirds. Once again, the Thunderbirds could not perform their high show like the Blue Angels. There was blue sky over the show area, but not in the right spaces, so the Thunderbirds had to fly the low show. Once again, the Thunderbirds flew a performance that outmatched the Blue Angels. However, they also screwed up once like the Blues did. One of the solos flew over the wrong runway - 6R/24L (this was during the slow roll). The Thunderbirds even switched from their low show to their high show at the very end of their performance just so they could fly the bomb burst formation. This was their second perfect bomb burst and crossover in a row (that I know of) and was much better than many of their bomb burst crossovers that I saw last year.

After the Thunderbirds' performance, there were still two more acts to take the skies. The S-3 Viking two-ship demonstration was next and it had already staged from the active commercial runway to begin their performance. The Viking is a very quiet aircraft, similar to what the A-10 sounds like, but a little quieter. It wasn't the best demonstration, but for a two-ship demonstration, it kept something in front of the crowd the whole time. At the end of their demonstration, both Vikings joined up to perform a carrier break with the tail hooks down. After the S-3s touched down, they taxied towards show right as the Harrier taxied in to begin his performance. Both Vikings even taxied around towards their hot ramp parking spot with their wings folded. The Harrier demo seemed a little better on Friday than on Thursday. The emphasis on the demonstration is its hovering capabilities, which were clearly demonstrated throughout the weekend and much appreciated by the crowd, and thus ending Friday's show. There were also two more days of airshow left.

I spent most of Saturday touring the static displays and this is where I'm going to mention what showed up. The largest aircraft included a C-130 Hercules from Youngstown, OH, C-17 Globemaster III 02-1102 from Charleston AFB, the Hanoi Taxi - C-141C Starlifter, a B-1B Lancer from Dyess AFB, B-52H Stratofortress from Minot AFB, Boeing 727-200F from Emery Worldwide, the Orbis DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital, the Airline Historical Museum's Super Constellation, and the NASA Super Guppy. Fighters included a German Tornado, a pair of F-14B Tomcats from VF-32 in NAS Oceana, an F-16A Fighting Falcon from the North Dakota ANG, an F-16C Fighting Falcon from the Ohio ANG, a pair of A-10s from the Michigan ANG in Battle Creek, F-117A Nighthawk, T-1A Jayhawk from Vance AFB, a T-38 Talon from Holloman AFB, a T-38 Talon from Laughlin AFB, T-39 Saberliner from Pensacola, T-6A Texan II from Pensacola, E-2C Hawkeye from Norfolk, AV-8B Harrier from VMA-542 at Cherry Point, a CH-124 SeaKing from Shearwater, and a trio of TH-57 JetRangers (two were from the Marines and one was from the Navy). NASA brought in their chase F/A-18, another Hornet that has the AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing), a C-21 Learjet, and a Twin Otter.

Warbirds and others miscellaneous aircraft included a Piper Warrior from a local community college, the Delta DC-3, an SNJ, DeHavilland Venom, Ohio University DC-3, Ohio University L-29 Delphi, P-51C Mustang Red Tail, a Predator, a Global Hawk, Ohio State Police A-Star and Cessna 172, and another Cessna 172. Participating in the Rolls Royce Competition were a Stearman, a couple of Wacos, at least three P-51D Mustangs (Crepes-a-Mighty, Donald, and American Beauty), a pair of T-34 Mentors, a T-28C Trojan, Ryan Navion, and the P-38 Lightning Glacier Girl. Other warbirds included the Planes of Fame P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, F4U-1A Corsair, and F6F Hellcat. The Army Aviation Foundation brought in their Caribou, several Hueys and Cobras, OH-6 Loach/Cayuse, and a U-21. More warbirds included the P-47 Thunderbolt Hun Hunter, SBD Dauntless, Junkers Ju-52, TBM Avenger, Supermarine Spitfire, a pair of T-6/SNJs, another T-28C Trojan, L-19, Ercoupe, T-50/UC-78 Bamboo Bomber, TS-11 Iskra, SB2C Helldiver, C-47D Skytrain, B-25J Mitchell, B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil, and the B-17G Flying Fortress Yankee Lady.

I spent the entire day watching most of the aerial displays and not shooting video. The Snowbirds put on another spectacular performance against another perfectly clear blue sky. I even took the opportunity to shoot their performance near a bunch of guys who brought over a couple of military scanners and had the speakers blaring so everyone around could hear the transmissions. It was a totally different experience to hear everything that the pilots say to each other during the maneuvers. Other honorable mentions that I should make would be that Kyle Franklin was wingwalking on the Jet Waco, Sean Tucker and the photo plane making a pass along the flight line to take pictures of the crowd and Sean (one picture made the front page of July 20's edition of the Dayton Daily News), the Heritage Flight consisting of the 3 P-51s and the F-15, the Blue Angels putting on a much better high show, and yet another gigantic wall of fire. Saturday's wall was 3,000 feet long and officially became a Guinness record. The Thunderbirds put on another high show and this was a very spectacular performance.


Sunday's show was the last show of the four-day extravaganza, or the Mother of All Airshows, as Rob Reider puts it. I'm going to format Sunday's airshow report a little differently, as it will be in list form. I'm going to list the acts in the order in which they took place and make mentions of anything unusual or unique.

Early Aircraft: Wright B Flyer replica and Bleriot. This opened the show at 8:30 in the morning, as I was totally unaware that the show would start this early. I was literally running to find a spot on the show line and got in place by 8:40 and was ready to shoot another full day - despite the fact that I wasn't feeling too well in the morning, but once I got to the show site, I felt perfectly fine. Must be a morning thing...

World War I Aircraft: Fokker Dr.1, Spad, Nieuport, and Sopwith Camel. They used really sharp turns and even simulated a mock dogfight with the tri-plane. Sean D. Tucker snuck in an early morning practice at the time and landed as the aircraft flew in front of the crowd. One of the bi-planes even demonstrated how primitive their throttles were back in the day. As they landed, a Beechcraft Baron took off and departed.

Liberty Parachute Team: Jumping from a Cessna 208 Caravan, the four members of the parachute team brought down the POW/MIA flag and the Stars and Stripes with Bob Wagner circling above in his 1929 Taperwing. The other two jumpers came down with candycane-style smoke. As all of the jumpers landed, Bob made a pass in his Taperwing prior to landing.

P-3C Orion Demonstration: VP-30 provided the demonstration and once again put on a great demonstration of the aircraft. As he was about to land and end the demonstration, the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team was taxiing out to the runway and take off.

Aeroshell Aerobatic Team: For some reason, their performance on Sunday seemed to be their best performance. They still remind me of the Six of Diamonds, who flew six AT-6/SNJ Texans at their prime. It seems like extending your landing gear on the top of a loop or a barrel roll is becoming the new trend in aerobatics.

Jimmy Franklin: I can never seem to get tired of watching him fly. Once again, his son Kyle was on the wings and performing his unusual wingwalking act, as it is with the Jet Waco.

Manfred Radius: Somehow he snuck into the sky with his Piper Pawnee tow plane. For the last three days that he flew his performance, he was unable to slice the ribbon, but he was able to do it on Sunday. I think this was the second time I've seen him successfully attempt the ribbon cut. His Salto sailplane was once again parked up against the crowd line towards show right - exactly where I was.

Julie Clark: I've started to really enjoy her performance more and more than before. Flying under an almost perfectly blue sky made her T-34 look absolutely incredible. Sunday's performance made me take in just how low she gets and in some parts, she even gets much lower than Dale Snodgrass does in his Sabre!

Nikolay Timofeev: His performance on Sunday also seemed much better than the previous three days' performances. I still think those bells that he has in his music remind me of communism. He needs a little more announcing for his performance and the narrator in his recording didn't seem very energetic like Frank, Rob, Danny, Gordon, Larry, Eddie, and Howdy (and most other announcers) use in aerobatic performances. I guess by writing this airshow report and using the video as my guideline to everything and I'm starting to think that he should be on my list of favorite performers.

F/A-18F Super Hornet: Spanky and Dude put on another great Super Hornet demonstration. Saturday's performance was highlighted as they passed by the moon in a one-half Cuban Eight. Sunday's highlights were an increased amount of vapor. I have to say that the Super Hornet demonstrations have gotten much better since they first came about two years ago. Also, the high alpha pass and each maneuver after that was done in the opposite direction as to Saturday's demonstration, which made things more unique.

Air Racing Demonstration: Sunday's performance included all four members of the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (two of which departed right away), Mary Dilda in her T-6, Jimmy Leeward in his P-51D Cloud Dancer, astronaut "Hoot" Gibson in the Hawker Sea Fury, and an FG-1D Super Corsair. With more aircraft in the air and racing, this made the demonstration even more exciting to watch. I still think air racing is a very exciting sport to watch, as long as nothing bad happens (a crash, engine failure, etc.). I liked how the Aeroshell pilots and Mary Dilda simulated engine failures by popping on the smoke for a very short amount of time. I guess this means that sometime I should get out to Reno for that one weekend in September.

US Army Golden Knights: They performed another mass jump as they did on the previous days. Once again, very little in the way of canopy relative work was demonstrated on this jump, as it has become the new trend in freefall parachuting. Maybe someday they'll have an all-CREW demonstration. I still like the Golden Knights - don't get me wrong. After they landed, a member of the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team departed and left the Dayton International Airport and headed home.

USAF Thunderbirds: This was the earliest I had seen the Thunderbirds fly. They flew under an almost-perfect blue sky above and with that, they could fly the high show. Dave Steinheiser announced the performance as Maj. Carlson had already departed and headed for Cheyenne, Wyoming. Steinheiser seems to have really worked on his announcing skills because he did an incredible job on announcing than he did in 2002. Once again, I failed to get the sneak pass but that's okay since I'll see them at least once at Atlantic City (I'm hoping I can watch them practice!). The Thunderbirds almost screwed up their entire diamond rejoin but they somehow got together and made the perfect photo opportunity that it provides. I would give this four-in-a-row for the Thunderbirds, as they've been doing a great job at Dayton.

Patty Wagstaff: I love her performance. That's all I can say. In my opinion, she is like the Sean Tucker of women aerobatic pilots - among the very best there is in the world. I'll bet that I'll get a lot of criticism for saying that, but hey, it's only my opinion.

Nancy Lynn: Yet another woman with an Extra 300. I wish that she and Patty had traded timeslots because Nancy doesn't really fly a hardcore aerobatic performance like Patty does. It's better to have the graceful performance, which is what I think Nancy profiles with her Extra 300, first, then have Patty's hardcore aerobatic performance afterwards. After she landed, Steve Hinton took off in the P-38 Lightning Porky and Dale Snodgrass in the P-51D Mustang Excalibur took off with him to set up for the Heritage Flight afterwards.

F-15 Eagle and Heritage Flight: Capt. Lendy Renegar put the F-15 through yet another awesome demonstration. He is indeed flying the Eagle much better than he did last year and using much more afterburner in parts of the demonstration that he didn't use last year. He then joined up with the P-38 and P-51 to fly the Heritage Flight. It was nice to see the P-38 in a Heritage Flight, as I know Hinton will bring it to Lancaster, but I don't think I will be able to make it to that show.

Bob Davis: As he took off and set up for his performance, Julie Clark departed and headed home to avoid any bad weather that was on its way. The clouds have started to pile up in the sky so it was evident that the bad weather was indeed coming. Bob does an alright performance in the Sukhoi. It's not the best, but it'll do. As he was performing, the F-117 Nighthawk taxied out to the runway for its departure and set up for its performance later on in the day.

S-3B Viking: This was a two-ship demonstration out of NAS Jacksonville, FL. Sunday's demonstration seemed to be much better than Friday and Saturday's demonstrations. The Vikings also sounded a little bit louder on Sunday as well. It's good to see something very rarely seen at airshows perform a demonstration. I'd like to see the S-3s fly at least one more time before they're officially retired from Navy service.

US Navy Blue Angels: Fat Albert started the Blue Angels' performance by performing his JATO demonstration, which never ceases to amaze me. The Blue Angels were relegated to fly their low show in the beginning but unfortunately had to switch to the flat show because Blue Angel #6 flew into cloud cover in his low transition and vertical pull-up on takeoff. The timing was still off on a lot of the maneuvers, as is typical with the Blue Angels. Nevertheless, they flew a great performance and their formations looked better than at previous show sites. Hey, at least they didn't buzz the wrong runway like they did on Friday! Unfortunately, I also overheard Boss mentioning about an accident on I-70 as the team was repositioning. It turns out that was a terrible accident that claimed the lives of a young mother and her two kids. It was very sad, indeed. Only those with scanners could pick it up and I was near a scanner and I heard it.

F-117A Nighthawk: This aircraft isn't really much of a performer but he did put on several very nice flybys over the last several days, including Sunday. He performed three passes before pulling a low pass and aborted landing.

Sean Tucker: Can't say too much more about him except I believe he's the best and he proved it on Sunday.

John Travolta: It's nice to see celebrities at an airshow and Travolta is among the top to have at an airshow. He showed up in his Boeing 707-138B painted up in the original delivery scheme that Qantas flew with the 707. He took Senator John Glenn up for a ride and even did a pass over the show site before landing. It's a very nice airplane and we should see more modern airliners at airshows.

Horsemen: Jim Beasley and Ed Shipley flew their P-51D Mustangs in tight formation in one of the best two-ship warbird aerobatic performances I've ever seen. What makes it more special for me is that I've seen these Mustangs perform solo aerobatic performances before - by both pilots - but never in formation. These P-51s are from the Philadelphia area and so are Jim and Ed.

Warbirds: Taking part in the World War II segment were B-17, B-24, Junkers Ju-52, UC-78 Bobcat, both P-38s, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51C Mustang, SB2C Helldiver, and F6F Hellcat. As the aircraft flew over, Rich's Incredible Pyro set off pyrotechnics on the ground. Another Guinness record attempt was made for the longest wall of fire and it was officially set - 3,210 feet of continuous fire. It was officially set just prior to the Snowbirds' performance.

Korean War: An F-86 Sabre was the aircraft of choice to represent the Korean War era. It didn't do too much in the way of simulating a dogfight, as it was relegated to doing some aerobatic maneuvers.

Vietnam War: The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation brought their Huey, Cobra, and Loach and demonstrated tactical maneuvers in each of the aircraft - maneuvers I've never seen performed in helicopters other than the Apache. It was a nice treat as they were the only helicopters that participated in the show.

AV-8B Harrier: For some reason, Sunday's Harrier demonstration didn't seem as deafening as the previous day's demonstrations. However, one little niche that was included in the performance was a dipping of the wings during the high-speed pass. I still like the Harrier demonstration, as it is the only aircraft in the US inventory that can hover (excluding helicopters and the upcoming F-35). As he was in the middle of hovering, the Snowbirds taxied by and began to set up for their takeoff sequence.

Canadian Snowbirds: Somehow the Snowbirds managed to get in a high show today. It was once again another perfect performance put on by the members of the Canadian Forces Demonstration Team. The Snowbirds were a great way to end the mother of all airshows - the 2003 Vectren Dayton Airshow, presented by Kroger.

Additional notes: The Thunderbirds and their support C-141C Starlifter, the Blue Angels, the F-15 demo team, and the F/A-18F Super Hornet demo team all departed throughout the afternoon to avoid the terrible weather that was to pound Ohio the day after. That weather was terrible, as we drove through about 60 miles of Ohio in cloudbursts and visibility less than a quarter of a mile. Getting into the airport and the show site was a bit of a hassle on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday was the easiest day to get into the show site, as far as driving is concerned. It took less than ten minutes to get out of the show site each day - a new record for any airshow that I've attended! The ride home was really long, and I was making good time until traffic came into play in New Jersey. I'm glad I make it out to Dayton for the once-in-a-lifetime airshow.

I should also make a thank you to Rob Reider for organizing the "geek get-together" on Thursday night at the Airport Inn restaurant, for which I took part in. There will be a group picture up here as soon as I get those rolls of film developed - there's pictures from the USAF Museum and the statics at Dayton on there.




Overall Score: 10+





What Dayton Did That Made It Unique:


Demonstration Teams

Tentative Military Demonstrations

Civillian Demonstrations

Tentative List of Participating Aircraft in Flying Displays

Participating Organizations

Announcers: Frank Kingston Smith, Rob Reider, and Danny Clisham

Dayton Airshow Website