2008 Joint Services Open House
May 17-18, 2008
Andrews AFB, Maryland
Airshow report written on May 20, 2008.
First off, let me say that this year was the first time I had attended Andrews AFB's airshow on both Saturday and Sunday (past years have had other airshows conflicting with Andrews' and attending both Andrews and that other show, and 2006 having something to do that same weekend, and a graduation in 2007). Andrews AFB has always had some strange weather, and the 2008 show was no exception. The Saturday show featured absolutely PERFECT weather, with absolutely no clouds in the sky until the later part of the afternoon, but they posed no threat or of no concern for any of the performers - even the Blues, which I will get to later on. Sunday's show was predicted to be an afternoon washout, but that didn't exactly happen as predicted.
The static display for the 2008 Joint Services Open House was actually, in my opinion, one of the least impressive static displays I've seen at Andrews. I won't go into specifics as to exactly what was on display, since I didn't really go through the entire static display, but I did notice that there was not an AC-130U, B-1B Lancer, F-15 Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-22 Raptor, and RC-135V/W Rivet Joint in attendance. Each of those aircraft have been attendance in past JSOH editions but were missing in the 2008 edition, which surprised me. I was impressed in the number of CAG jets in attendance, as well as the Coast Guard's new HC-144 Ocean Sentry, which I did not expect to be in service so soon. There were reports of an F-117 Nighthawk to be on static display, but it was not in attendance either, and I did not expect it to show anyway.
The flying display was very impressive, but at the same time, some of the performers I had expected to see days before the show were not in attendance. Those performers and performances being a Super Hornet demonstration and Kirby Chambliss, and apparently Kirby Chambliss appeared on the schedule on the official JSOH website. However, the performers that were in attendance more than made up for the shortfalls. The DC ANG actually performed a flyby to open up Saturday's show, and even though the formation seemed a little loose, the four F-16 Fighting Falcons were in full burner, making it the loudest four-ship Viper flyby I'd ever seen and quite the surprise. I was a little disappointed and surprised with the Berlin Airlift flight, as I had only expected to see the C-54 in the air (it was, however, in the static display), but surprised to see a C-47 Skytrain, a Transall C-160, and a C-17 Globemaster III in the flight. It was my first time seeing a C-160 - this particular aircraft appropriately coming from the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), as Ambassador Klaus Scharioth was one of the guest speakers on Saturday.
One of the few surprises in the flying display, other than the DC ANG and the C-160 came from Dale "Snort" Snodgrass. I knew he was going to be performing, and naturally assumed that since the Sabre was down, he'd have a P-51D Mustang. Now, when Snort flies a Mustang, it's usually Jim Reed's Excalibur. I have seen past shows' (2008 shows - keep that in mind) pictures showing Snort flying Luscious Lisa and I thought that he'd be flying that Mustang at Andrews AFB. Turns out that he borrowed Glamorous Gal. If that Mustang sounds familiar, it should. It is owned by Robert Baranaskas and operated by Warbirds Over Long Island. I am used to seeing either Robert or his son Chris flying that Mustang in warbird flights at airshows in this area and not in aerobatic performances - and certainly not in a performance like what Snort flies. Glamorous Gal will be at McGuire AFB on May 31-June 1 and will probably be on static display, but I will be surprised to see if either Jim Beasley Jr. or Ed Shipley flies her in the Heritage Flight there. Snort did fly Glamorous Gal in the Heritage Flight at Andrews AFB, alongside the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-22 Raptor, and a QF-4E Phantom.
Everyone expected them - and many people gambled on these guys showing up in force. Rick "Comrade" Svetkoff's dream of a jet team of F-104 Starfighters had finally taken off and was expected to fly Andrews AFB. The last time I had seen an F-104 in flight was at NAS Oceana in 2006, and Rick only had one jet at Oceana. This airshow season features him with Mike "Smitty" Smith and Brig. General Steve "Cinco" Ritchie (Ret.) off his wings in another two F-104s. If you have not seen the Starfighters perform at an airshow, GO SEE THEM. They are indeed the fastest as well as the loudest civilian jet team in the world, and you will get to see that in full effect in their performance. The mighty howl of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine is also showcased in a couple passes in their performance. It took the team several years to get two additional jets in their performance and in a few years, I wouldn't be surprised to see the team grow to four jets! If the names Smitty and Cinco sound familiar, they should. Smitty was a former F-14 Tomcat pilot from VF-101 and in addition to his duties at VF-101, he was also a Tomcat demonstration pilot. He currently flies an F-16 Fighting Falcon for the Texas ANG. Cinco is famous for being the ONLY USAF ace during the Vietnam War, having flown the F-4 Phantom and all of his five kills being MiG-21s. The Starfighters definitely stole the show from all of the other performers - even from Major Paul "Max" Moga and the Raptor!
Speaking of the Raptor... 2008 is the debut of the official F-22 Raptor Demo Team and the official Raptor demo profile. Andrews AFB was the first time seeing this year's new demo profile, and it is absolutely spectacular. Without going into any detail as to changes to the profile and what maneuvers are now in it, I will say that many of the maneuvers featured in the performance from last year are in this year's display profile. I do believe that the Raptor high show requires no more than 4,000 feet of altitude, since Sunday's rainy performance had a full Raptor demonstration.
The Blue Angels helped to close out the show on Saturday and Sunday and their performance - at least the high show - has changed. Several diamond maneuvers have been switched around in the performance and the delta now features a new pass, which features all six aircraft breaking formation as they head towards the crowd. Strangely enough, Sunday's performance featured a high show performance, which caught me by surprise, as they seemed to fly a low show takeoff setup, and I did not seem to think there was enough ceiling for a high show, but somehow there was. The Blues looked spectacular this early in the season, and even managed to adjust their show on Saturday to avoid flying into the clouds.
Overall, this year's Joint Services Open House was an overwhelming success and an outstanding show - even despite Sunday's weather, which forced the Golden Knights from jumping and the Starfighters and the Air Force Reserve Jet Car from flying and racing. The Starfighters could have flown Sunday, but there was too much rainwater on the runways and the fact that their tires don't have much tread on them. The AV-8B Harrier actually had an in-flight emergency on Sunday, with the nose gear not extending. It ended successfully, with a safe landing, and the rescue equipment out - just in case.
I would like to thank Lt.Col. Andrew Lourake for his assistance in everything for the entire weekend at Andrews AFB.
Military Demonstration Teams
US Navy Blue Angels
US Army Golden Knights
Military Aircraft Demonstrations
AV-8B Harrier Demonstration
B-2 Spirit Flyby (Saturday only)
F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team
F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team
QF-4E Phantom in Heritage Flight
Aerobatic Performances, Warbird Performances, and Others
Red Bull Helicopter & Jumpers
Dale "Snort" Snodgrass
Air Force Reserve Jet Car
USAF Heritage Flight
Warbirds Over Long Island
Commemorative Air Force: B-24, B-29, Ju-52
8:00 AM Saturday & Sunday*
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM