2002 Wings of Freedom Airshow

August 17-18, 2002

Airshow report written on August 18, 2002.

When an airshow with a lot of warbirds come to mind, one thinks of many different airshows: Reading (Pennsylvania), Lancaster (Ohio), and Frederick (Maryland). In all honesty, Frederick was a show that was on my tentative list for 2002 but retracted early because I thought that a 3-hour drive down to see this airshow was not worth it. Well, in the airshow report here, I'll mention the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff that was involved in Frederick.

Getting to the Frederick airport was easy for me. Take 295 down to the Twin Bridges, I-95 south to I-695 West, the Baltimore Beltway to Interstate 70. Finding the right exit was no problem, but the directions to airshow parking were not there! We had to make several wrong turns to end up finding the parking, located in the Fairgrounds of Frederick. It also took a short bus ride to get to the actual show site. I didn't mind that, except I swore on my life I would never ride on a school bus again. I had to buy a ticket because I was too lazy to order an advanced sales ticket for $2 less than the gate price. Then came security. I thought that I would have a problem since I loaded the camera bag with a monster-sized bottle of Dasani water, a tin of Ritz Bits, a thing of Oreos, and a couple Rice Krispies squares, along with the camcorder, a cell phone, the AC kit, and two tapes and batteries. Turns out, I had no problem. Just tell the people what the items are, and you'll be fine. It worked out at Millville, Dover, and Langley, and now here at Frederick.

The static display area as you walk into the show site was sparse. You're greeted by a monster American flag hanging from two cranes, a C-123K Provider and the Berlin Airlift's C-54 Skymaster. Behind the two aircraft appeared to be a US Navy T-45 Goshawk. But, if you took a closer look at it, it's actually an L-39 painted to be like a T-45. There was a Cessna and a Piper located off to the side with a tent advertising "Learn to Fly". There was another, and I forget which aircraft was at that one. The Stars and Stripes wing of the Commemorative Air Force had their TBM Avenger on display. It's in serious need of a real Avenger WWII paint job. There was a UC-12B Huron on display, possibly from either NAS Oceana or Patuxent River. A King Air 200 (the civil version of the C-12) was also on display, but was moved out and departed before the airshow started.

The main attraction here was the warbirds. A whole taxiway was littered with warbirds on either side of it, primarily parked on the grass. The list of warbirds included a Stearman, N2S, at least 12 L-birds (L-1, L-2, L-3, L-4, L-5, L-6, L-16, L-19, etc.), a Taylorcraft, PT-19, PT-23, PT-26, Navion, T-34, O-2A Skymaster, at least 5 versions of a Texan or Harvard (one arrived before the show started and was parked there), a CJ-6A (and the Russian version, I believe is a Yak-52), what looked like a Sea Fury, a BT-13 Valiant, T-28C Trojan, three more TBMs (one arrived and was parked), a Kate replica, a Val replica, F-4U Corsair (this one's NOT Skyboss), SBD Dauntless, two P-51D Mustangs (one was Slender, Tender, and Tall and the other was Donald Duck), Sean Carroll's Yak-9, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-40 Warhawk, B-25 Mitchells Panchito, Briefing Time, and Tondelayo, the last being owned by the Collings Foundation. A C-60 Lodestar started the list of transports along with a C-47 Skytrain The Black Sparrow. The star of the warbirds was Sentimental Journey, a B-17G Flying Fortress from the Arizona Wing of the CAF. When I was shooting video of it on the ground, it had the largest crowd of people around it. Back behind the hangers were a West Virginia ANG C-130 Hercules and the Maryland State Police, using a black Dauphin helicopter. They departed and ended up returning later on in the day.

While I was shooting the warbird statics, there were three low-wing aircraft which looked like Giles or Zlins that flew in formation and performed two passes, the last being a break to land. Their landings were either touch-and-go's or aborted approaches. I couldn't tell from my vantage point. Parked with the warbirds was Allen Smith's L-39C Albatross. I finally got a good look at it, and he indeed has a talon painted on it! It was at this time when a MD ANG A-10 made a flyby and broke to land at Frederick. He performed a missed approach and pyro pass before landing and parking next to Frederick's TBM. Now that's an arrival! Parked behind the warbirds was a monster array of tents and World War II nostalgia. There were replicas of tents and hospitals and lots of vendors offering food and drink and authentic World War II items you could buy. Souvenir vendors were very abundant here and I think I didn't get a chance to check every one of them out! The one part of the vendors I spent the most time in was at the Trade Show, which was a giant tent set up with people selling model kits (not just WWII aircraft - I bought an F/A-18C Hornet kit and an F-4E Phantom kit from these guys - and a P-3C Orion kit from the vendor next to the C-123), t-shirts of all types, die-cast Armour/Franklin Mint and Corgi aircraft, pins, chairs in a bag, sunglasses, and children's airplane play toys. It seemed like every wing of the CAF had a booth and was selling something. Behind the trade show tent was a Maule and the TBM, A-10, UC-12B, and two gyrocopters. Civil aircraft were abundant and included a Lear, several Cessnas, Pipers, Beechcraft, Mooneys, among others. Advanced helicopter concepts had a Bell 206 Jetranger and an R22 on display.

Radio-controlled aircraft were also abundant, as they had a part of the airshow schedule, too. Models of a P-40, SBD, L-bird, F4F, J3 Cub, P-47, B-17, AT-6, F-4U, PT-23, PT-26, F9F Panther, A6M Zero, unpainted P-61 Black Widow, L-1, T-33, P-38, UC-60, PT-17, Chipmunk, twin-engine seaplane, T-34, and an A-10 were among the highlights there. In fact one guy flying gave the B-17 crew a hard time as they wanted to take off. The C-60 took off to set up as jump plane for the 82nd Airborne All-American Free Fall Parachute Team. Cadets from a local high school set up to display the American flag, the Maryland state flag, and one other flag.

The 82nd Airborne All-American Free Fall Parachute Team performed a bomb burst jump as well as three other jumpers coming in, one with the American flag, as our national anthem was playing in the background. One 'chute was a tandem jump, with one jumper practically next to the other, on one parachute. Their announcer was a woman, which is very rare on the airshow circuit. A parade of vehicles took the line next, including opening words from official airshow announcer Bill Bordealou and Astronaut Joe Allen. A vehicle parade was being set up in this process, with vehicles spanning every part of the war and a monster lineup of aircraft on the show runway. A T-28, Harvard, three SNJs, BT-13 Valiant, Provost, O-2A, Navion, Yak-52, PT-23, PT-26, N2S, Stearman, and all of the L-birds took off to perform a mass aerial fly-past. The three SNJs were flying in formation as all the other aircraft flew by in their respective airspace. A few of the L-birds had to land because they were dead-sticked but the rest of the mass aircraft in the air still went on doing flybys. I swear I've never seen this many planes flying at once! It would have been much better had it been done under blue skies instead of overcast. How the 82nd Airborne parachute team jumped under these conditions is beyond my knowledge. It was also at this time when I first saw a lot of airliners flying really low (maybe around 10,000 feet) over Frederick airport. And I don't mean A320s or 737s all the time. The majority of the airliners were 747-400s, 757s, 767s, 777s, and A330s.

Allen Smith took his beautiful L-39C Albatross into the air for his demonstration. He doesn't too that much in the way of aerobatics but for a show with aircraft powered by piston engines, a jet is always welcome to get the crowd's attention. I am looking forward to seeing him perform again at Willow Grove this year. The T-28 departed right before Allen landed and afterwards, it was time for Charlie Kulp to give some laughs with his Flying Farmer routine. Compared to Roger Lehnert's performance, Charlie doesn't do as much crazy flying as Roger does, but Charlie has an added bonus to his performance: an actor portraying as the farmer's scared wife. Charlie uses a J3 cub and even loops it like Roger does, but in all honesty, Roger's got the better Cub performance. I do like Charlie's "wife", though.

Drew Hurley took to the skies next. The crowd of people I was in really appreciated Drew's performance and I appreciated it even more because I do believe it's the first time in a few years Drew performed outside of New Jersey! Being a New Jersey native, I believe he, Matt Chapman, and Roger Lehnert are the best performers in my area. The only thing I didn't like about Drew's performance is that it was under overcast skies. Overcast does a number on airshows and makes for a crappy backdrop. A Doolittle Raid Re-enactment was up next and featured B-25 Mitchells Briefing Time and Panchito, as well as the Kate and Val replicas representing Japanese aircraft. The other B-25, Tondelayo must've broken down since he was seen taxiing off the runway. The two Mitchells performed a pass each including pyro to simulate a raid. Two TBM Avengers, an SBD Dauntless, and the F-4U Corsair also took off for the dogfighting scene as the B-25s landed. The West Virginia C-130 took off to hold short before he did his demonstration. The TBMs, SBD, and F-4U made a pass each before passing again and dropping pyro bombs. The Kate and Val tore up the base with guns and pyro bombs as the F-4U chased them. This was part of the Midway re-enactment. Each aircraft performed separate passes three times and randomly there was pyro bombs and gunfire on the ground. The TBMs and SBD performed photo passes as the C-60 Lodestar took off with the 82nd Airborne All-American Free Fall Parachute Team and set up for their jump later on in the show.

Joe Tobul took the F-4U for a couple photo passes before landing. A TBM and the Corsair set up after the Tora aircraft, the other TBM, and the SBD safely left the show area. The TBM and the Corsair demonstrated how each aircraft folded their wings to save space on the carrier decks. The CJ-6A took off for reasons beyond my knowledge as the C-130 Hercules 64-6702 came back for a pass break to land. He demonstrated a short-field landing and delivered a special team of what looked like rescue workers with a see-through clear stretcher. The soldiers were dressed in almost like biohazard gear and it appeared almost they were treating someone who was either wounded, suffered radiation poisoning, or with a case of the anthrax virus. I thought it was a very interesting demonstration and while the crew was heading out to the victim, the C-130 demonstrated taxiing backwards before taking off. The C-130 returned for a pass as the biohazard team passed by.

A battle on the ground between Allied and Axis troops was re-enacted for about 5 minutes before the 82nd Airborne All-American Free Fall Parachute Team. What makes them different than the Golden Knights is that they always do a showline spread and this jump was no exception. They even did a media jump with one member of a local news station jumping in tandem with one of the 82nd Airborne jumpers. They put on a very nice display, but even with some blue skies, it would have looked better under a total blue sky. A gyrocopter display was up next and this one truly reminds me of the one flown by Joe Borin at Rotorfest every year. You can't do much with it except show off auto-rotation. It's always nice to see something different at every airshow.

A large set of warbirds was lined up on the runway for the final re-enactment - the 8th Air Force's battle on Germany. Two P-51D Mustangs, the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, Yak-9 all took off to provide "cover" for the bombers as Joe Tobul and the F-4U Corsair took off. Gunfire and pyro was provided by a P-51 as the B-17G Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey took off, along with the B-25 Mitchells Briefing Time and Panchito. The last two warbird to take part in this was the C-60 Lodestar and the C-47 Skytrain. Germans on the ground in BMW motorcycles provided some action by trying to shoot down the Allied fighters and trying to kill as many Allied soldiers on the ground as well. A fierce battle in the air raged as all of the larger aircraft - the B-17, B-25s, C-60, and C-47 came by with pyro-laden passes. Sentimental Journey came by to provide the closing pyro bomb - the wall of fire.

Each aircraft then came around to "salute" in a fly-past as the battle on the ground raged more. The larger aircraft, notably the two B-25s and B-17, came back around to perform photo passes as the MD ANG A-10 that was on static display was towed out. I was lucky enough to sit where the A-10 was coming out of the flight line ("When he comes by, DUCK!" and "Can you keep it here?" among the good quotes of the spectators near me). The Yak-9 came around to break as an unusual formation including the F-4U, P-40, P-47, and P-51D flew by in a missing man formation pass with "Amazing Grace" playing in the background as the C-47 landed.

A four-ship formation of A-10s from the Maryland ANG came by for a single pass to salute the local military and ANG units as the rest of the warbirds landed and paraded across the crowd. The Iron Eagles were up next and it was only a solo performance since the wingman's son was hospitalized from a motorcycle accident. Family comes first, and that's why he wasn't here. The solo routine was still very nice, and I love the pretty paint job on their Christian Super Eagles! It was at this time when all of the overcast skies gave way to a good portion of blue skies - a much better sky to photograph/videotape against!

The static MD ANG A-10 departed, possibly on a mission while we had to wait for about five minutes for the F/A-18 Hornet demonstration. The Hornet demo came from NAS Oceana and it was by far, the best Navy Hornet demo I have seen to date! A few of the maneuvers

even looked like they came from the F-14 demo (the touch-and-go, for one) and he did a photo pass to end the flying displays for the show. The show, however, ended with a 21-gun pyro salute. It was a very fitting tribute to all those lost in combat and in peacetime - and in today's world, those lost on September 11.

B-17 and C-47 rides were being given after the show was over, and many of the warbird pilots decided to have some fun at the end of the show to fly - Sean Carroll for one. Frederick, however, did not SPECIFY to those who decided to stay until the gates close that shuttle bus parking also ended at that same time. That gave us some bit of problems as to getting to the car. A little verbal argument was needed before the staff decided to give us a ride over to the Fairgrounds, which, also, were locked! However, the section where you entered before parking was opened, and so, we were off. I will NEVER park in the Fairgrounds again! The next time I go to Frederick, I am getting VIP parking!

Overall Score: 8.5

Disappointments:

What Frederick Did That Made it Unique

 

Military Demonstrations

Civillian Aerobatic Performers

Participating Organizations

Announcer: Bill Bordealou, Al Loncto