2005 McGuire AFB Open House & Airshow

McGuire AFB, New Jersey

June 4-5, 2005

Airshow report uploaded on July 2, 2005.

For an airshow season where the first five of my airshows fall in just a four consecutive week span, I got lucky regarding that the first two shows were the longest drives, with the last three shows getting closer and closer to home.  The last of the airshow weekends in the bunch was an airshow at McGuire AFB, which is less than thirty minutes from my house.  I have been saying in the last several years that Willow Grove is my hometown show.  It's somewhat true, since Willow Grove has had more airshows than McGuire (and better airshows for that matter) in the last five years.  In fact, McGuire AFB's last airshow was in 2000, almost five years to the day that the 2005 show took place.  There was supposed to have been an airshow in 2001, but because of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the airshow was cancelled (it was scheduled the weekend after 9/11, which was, coincidently, the weekend after Willow Grove's airshow that year as well).  As I said above, the shortest amount of time I can get to McGuire is about thirty minutes, through Route 70 to County Route 530 and 545, which will take you into Fort Dix.  In fact, one of the best spots to watch arrivals and departures at McGuire is off of CR545, but since 9/11/01, there is now a gate just prior to reaching the spot and you can't get there anymore.  There is one other good spot, and that is at Burlington County College's Pemberton campus, but the school's parking lot is limited access only.  Other than that, there's no other spots to watch operations from, at least to the best of my knowledge.

Media day at McGuire AFB was a complete washout, with downpours all day long, which meant that Saturday's weather would be questionable.  My dad wanted to come along, and we left my house around 8:30, following the directions off McGuire's website (since my back way to the base would have been a real bad idea) and getting onto Route 68 via Routes 38 (east), 206 (north), and CR537.  We got to the outskirts of McGuire/Fort Dix right at 9:00 am and didn't actually get on base until 9:25 because there was nobody directing traffic further up in the line of cars.  Prior to parking, cars were being randomly searched by a K-9 unit (I took my best friend and one of his friends to the show on Sunday with my truck), and on Saturday we lucked out on the search, but on Sunday, I was picked for the search.  There was only one way into the flight line and that line had only four metal detectors, making a line that seemed to span half a mile long on Saturday and even longer on Sunday.  We didn't get on the flight line until about 10:05 on Saturday because the line moved really slowly, but on Sunday, we managed to get in before 10:00.

Unlike the other airshow reports, I will write this a little differently by not going in order of the acts that went on one particular day.  This is because I chose to shoot video all day Saturday and shot half the show on Sunday and shot pictures the other half of the time.  Plus, some stuff flew on Sunday that didn't fly on Saturday because of the weather, which I will explain about.  The airshow report will follow what flew on Saturday in the order that they flew in, with most, if not, all of Sunday's flying activities thrown in where I thought they would have been put if Saturday's weather was as beautiful as Sunday's.  It sounds strange, but it will work.

Saturday was a matter of clearing.  At 10:00 in the morning, the skies were overcast at about 600 feet, very very slowly lifting up to minimums.  Whether or not flying would commence at 11:00 as advertised was becoming doubtful, since the cloud deck did not want to lift as fast as we would have wanted.  It was a bright overcast, since times throughout the morning it seemed as if the sun wanted to break through.  Over the course of the weekend, there were a bunch of aircraft I wanted to tour and get cockpit shots of, but didn't because of either long lines or not enough time to do that.  That's okay because there will be other shows.  Speaking of static displays, McGuire had a decent static display, which included the following:

Large Aircraft:  C-5A Galaxy (Stewart ANGB, NY, 69-0023), a C-17A Globemaster III (McGuire AFB, 03-3127), a KC-10A Extender (McGuire AFB, 83-0082), a C-141B Starlifter (McGuire AFB - preserved, 66-7947), an LC-130H Hercules (Schenectady, NY, 62-1095), a KC-135E Stratotanker (McGuire AFB, 58-0115), B-1B Lancer (Dyess AFB, TX, 85-0073), and a B-52H Stratofortress (Barksdale AFB, LA, 61-0022).

Fighters and Trainers:  A pair of F-15 Eagles (New Orleans, LA), an F-16 Fighting Falcon (Atlantic City, NJ, 84-0317), two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs (Whiteman AFB, MO), T-1A Jayhawk (Columbus AFB, MS - this particular Jayhawk was painted in the new grey paint scheme for the Jayhawk), T-6A Texan II (Laughlin AFB, TX), T-34C Mentor (NAS Pensacola, FL), a T-37 Tweet (Randolph AFB, TX), and a T-38 Talon (Columbus AFB, MS).

Helicopters:  A single UH-1 Huey (Trenton, NJ), an OH-58 Kiowa (Trenton, NJ), an HH-65 Dauphin (CGAS Atlantic City, NJ), a UH-60 Blackhawk (Trenton, NJ), and a Schweizer 269C. 

Civillian Aircraft and Warbirds:  A pair of Diamond Katanas, Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172, Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182, Memphis Belle B-17F Flying Fortress, a B-25J Mitchell Pacific Prowler, a TBM Avenger, and a Nanchang CJ-6A.

The static display this year was better than 2000's, since there were more civillian aircraft present, since 2000 had practically all Air Force aircraft.  It still fell under a typical McGuire static display.  If you include performing aircraft, a Cessna O-2, the AD-4 Skyraider, and Allen Smith's L-39 Albatross were part of the static display for some portion of the show.  Concerning the layout of the base, McGuire has an enormous flight ramp that wraps around like a stretched-out "u", with the two sides of the U paralleling a runway.  McGuire has two runways - 6/24, which was the active runway and takeoffs from Runway 6 involve beginning the roll at far, far show left, out of view of the crowd until the airplane takes off.  If the aircraft takes off on Runway 24, you can watch the takeoff roll since the beginning of 24 is almost directly in front of the crowd, but at least two or three miles away.  The other runway is 18/36, which was closed all weekend because of the airshow.  Getting good takeoff and landing photos is damn well nearly impossible at McGuire, unless its winter (the heat haze would be terrible) or if you have a telephoto lens larger than 800 mm.  To make matters worse, it seems like the aircraft flew really far away from the crowd (especially the F-16 on Sunday) AND a rule was imposed that nobody was permitted within ten feet of the crowd line mainly because of the "exhaust from the jet engines", which is the biggest piece of baloney I have ever heard in my life!  Thankfully on Sunday we were allowed to get up to the crowd line (on Sunday I had a bunch of extremely rude New Yorkers who decided that me being a photographer could shoot through them and get a good shot...oh, and they claimed to not know any English), which gave me another reason to want to fence off everything where I was sitting.

On Saturday, the low clouds prevented the show from starting at 11:00 as advertised, but it was moved up to 12:00.  Under the optimum airshow conditions, Saturday's show should have opened with a Golden Knights parachute jump, followed by the Skytypers skytyping out messages across the sky, and the Team McGuire aircraft ready to show off to the crowd.  Only one of those three events took place, and that was the event involving the Team McGuire aircraft.  Those events did take place on Sunday, on time, and in that order, with the Skytypers printing out a giant American flag in the sky to serve as a backdrop for the opening jump.  The commander of the 305th Air Mobility Wing, Col. JJ Jackson, gave a speech to open up the airshow, and followed with a mass exit of the rest of the Golden Knights.  To start things off on Saturday, all three different types of aircraft based at McGuire AFB took off using Runway 24.  The first aircraft to take off was the KC-135E Stratotanker, operated by the 108th Air Refueling Wing at McGuire. Secondly was a C-17 Globemaster III from the 305th Air Mobility Wing, which was off the ground using about 1,500 feet of runway to take off.  The third and final plane to take off was a KC-10 Extender, also operated by the 305th AMW.  What was really cool about the KC-10's takeoff was that you could see the exhaust of the two engines pushing away the water off the runway - something that you couldn't see with either the KC-135 or the C-17.  On Sunday, the three aircraft departed before the flying display commenced, along with the Golden Knights' C-31 Friendship and the six SNJs of the Skytypers.

Saturday's first act was a Nanchang CJ-6A flown by a local resident from Burlington County (I can't recall his name... the announcer, who was Larry Strain - who is actually a real airshow announcer, mentioned it but I couldn't pick it out clearly).  He didn't do a whole lot of maneuvers, mainly because he was working with a 1,500 ceiling and about three to five miles of visibility.  The CJ-6A was one I have seen on the ground at a couple shows in the past but have never seen that actual aircraft in flight.  Sunday's performance had him flying more vertical maneuvers, namely a Cuban Eight and a Hammerhead (I did get a decent photo of the hammerhead...but I had to severely crop the picture because the original wasn't centered), to name a few maneuvers.  I couldn't tell you which runway he landed on and which he took off from, but if I were to guess, he took off on 24 and landed on 6 and taxied by the crowd before shutting down on the hot ramp.

McGuire AFB's shows in the last several years have been famous for long gaps between different acts, and Saturday's show held that tradition really well.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be that way, considering the weather was still bad (but clearing) and aircraft still needed to get to McGuire and be part of the static displays.  After the CJ-6A landed, a UH-1 Huey and an OH-58 Kiowa from Trenton arrived and did a hover demonstration in front of the crowd.  The two helicopters were not part of the flying display, mainly because airboss Ralph Royce had a heck of a time trying to give directions to the pilots on where to land and park for the time being.  Yeah, there were times where nothing was in the air, but if you were listening to the airboss frequency, you could tell there was a lot of activity going on between the airboss, the control tower, and airplanes in the area wanting to land at McGuire.  Blame it on Friday's weather!

Following the helicopters was an airfield flyover by Kevin Russo, mainly checking in with the airboss that he will be flying later on in the show and that he will have to report to Reading, PA by an allotted time because he has a performance there as well.  That particular airshow in Reading was World War II Weekend, which was also plagued with the bad weather that fell on the Friday before airshow weekend.  After Kevin left the area, Jim Beasley took off in the P-51D Mustang Bald Eagle after having some problems starting the plane.  For a while it seemed doubtful that there would be a Heritage Flight because Jim couldn't start the Mustang, but he got it running.  Behind him was an F-16 Fighting Falcon, flown by Captain Dax "Mojo" Cornelius, as they went out and behind to join up for an up and coming Heritage Flight.  On Sunday, Jim Beasley flew a short aerobatic demonstration in the P-51 Mustang just prior to the start of the tactical fighter demonstrations of the day and the Heritage Flight.

As they set up, it was time for the first of the military aircraft to take to the skies.  It was the F-15 Eagle from the West Coast Demonstration Team out of Eglin AFB in Florida.  Captain Joel "Deuce" Hemphill, who is going on his second airshow in New Jersey for 2005, actually started out his demonstration a little differently.  Actually, it was a lot different, considering it was McGuire AFB and he had to take off on Runway 24 (I'm describing how he flew the demo on Saturday).  Firstly, because of the setup of the base, he could not do the standard takeoff routine.  Secondly, also related to the setup, the high speed pass and four-point roll were cut out of the demonstration, leaving his first pass as a moderate speed pass with a liberal amount of afterburner.  There was the minimum radius turn, but no triple aileron roll, as that became a simple high speed pass with a lot of afterburner thrown in.  The slow speed pass and level eight were as planned, with a high speed pass thrown afterwards while Deuce set up for the dedication pass and then the knife-edge pass.  Deuce kept the afterburner on for a great deal of the demonstration, and with the low cloud deck that was breaking up behind the crowd and towards show right, it kept the jet noise closer to the ground, which I love!  Plus, to show how much the crowd appreciated the F-15, Deuce got a roar of cheers and applause on his first pass, only because the F-15 was the first fighter to take off and demo at McGuire and featured jet noise (in this instance, the jet teams don't count) that hasn't been heard over McGuire since either 1994 (with the F-14 Tomcat) or 1998 (with an F-16 demonstration, which I wasn't there for).  Sunday's performance was the entire high show, minus the high speed pass in the beginning because of the runway layout of the base.  Deuce should get a couple bumper stickers slapped all over his F-15s that say "I © New Jersey", since he already performed at Millville and now McGuire AFB, and will be at Atlantic City this coming August.

Not too many people think about it because it wasn't really advertised as one per se, but McGuire AFB had two different USAF Heritage Flights on both Saturday and Sunday, not including a flight that would take place later on Saturday.  After Deuce finished his demonstration, the F-16 and P-51 came by from the right and to me, that qualifies as a Heritage Flight, even though it was only one pass.  Deuce was not too far behind, as he made another pass, following to join up with the F-16 and P-51 for the "real" Heritage Flight in front of the crowd.  It was another Classic Heritage Flight, and was a Heritage Flight formation I've never seen before - F-15, F-16, and P-51.  People who had long telephoto lens would have been able to get a great shot of the three aircraft in front of the crowd, getting ready for their first pass, with the control tower in the foreground.  The first pass was from in front of the crowd and to the right, with Deuce having a real hard time trying to keep up with the formation since it seemed like he really wanted to go a lot faster than the formation speed, thus having to liberally use the speed brake to keep up in formation.  The second pass came from the left and was somewhat of a banana pass, with Deuce still liberally using power during the Heritage Flight, since I did see him use the speed brake again (which isn't very photo-friendly!).  The final pass was a very nice formation break, with Mojo in the F-16 coming around for an extremely loud flyby, and a high speed pass by the P-51, followed quickly by Deuce in the F-15 with an afterburner flyby before each aircraft landed on Runway 6.

Following the Heritage Flight, the Skytypers took to the air via Runway 6 for their performance.  It was obvious that there would be no skytyping on Saturday, but on Sunday, the Skytypers did manage to take off early in the morning and do some skytyping around 10:30.  In fact, my dad told me that he saw the Skytypers leaving a message in the sky around 11:00, but he didn't tell me where it was (besides in the sky) and what it said, but I would assume it had something to do with the airshow at McGuire.  When the Skytypers took off on Saturday, I don't know how they were able to make six SNJs sound loud on their takeoff, especially with the runway being as far away as it is and the team being notorious for not running up the RPMs on their engines.  Compared to past performances, the team had the RPMs up a little more on Saturday and kept them up on Sunday as well, with Sunday's performance being towards the middle of the show, rather then in the beginning, where they spent time skytyping.

After the Skytypers landed, it was finally time for Team McGuire to show off.  Each of the three aircraft were to make a single pass to signify that yes, that plane is based at McGuire.  An interesting thing to note is that each of the aircraft had at least one person on board flying the plane (or as a loadmaster or boom operator or flight engineer) who was from the immediate area.  The first of the three aircraft was the C-17 Globemaster III, which is the newest airplane to be assigned to McGuire AFB.  The particular C-17 that took part in the flying display was 03-3126, which was the second C-17 delivered to McGuire, which was in October 2004.  Ever since I got a date on when McGuire would receive their first C-17, I've become somewhat of a C-17 geek, in terms of which C-17s are where, in terms of their serial numbers.  I did this by keeping track of the C-17 pictures being added to Airliners.net and seeing either Michael Carter or Jerry Search's pictures from Long Beach, California (KLGB) of the newest C-17s on test flights or their delivery flight and hoping that the next new C-17 that is finished goes to McGuire... so I waited:  03-3118 and 03-3119 went to the Mississippi ANG, 03-3120 went to McChord AFB, 03-3121 went to Edwards AFB, 03-3122 and 03-3123 and 03-3124 went to McChord AFB, and then 03-3125 went to McGuire!  With 03-3125 being the first C-17 delivered to McGuire, it was nicknamed the Spirit of New Jersey (and Gemini Jets has made a diecast replica of that particular plane in 1/400 scale!) and was delivered on September 23, 2004.  The C-17 made a single pass down the show line before heading out to land on Runway 6.  I do want to note that announcer Larry Strain butchered the hometown of one of the C-17 crew members at least twice on Saturday and as well on Sunday and to make matters worse, that particular hometown he butchered was Marlton, New Jersey, which is where I live!

Following behind the C-17 was the KC-135E Stratotanker, which is the only non-active duty airplane based at McGuire.  The KC-135s based at McGuire are with the 108th Air Refueling Wing, which is part of the New Jersey Air National Guard.  He made his single pass with the boom extended, and with the departure of the C-141s, the KC-135Es take over the role of Old Smokey and the loudest plane based at McGuire.  I do want to note that the entire crew flying the KC-135 both days of the show were all New Jersey residents, with one of the crew members residing in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which is the next town over from where I live.  The KC-135 has been a McGuire fixture since around 1973, back when the F-105D Thunderchief ruled the skies over New Jersey (the Thuds flew for the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing, which later flew F-4E Phantoms until around 1991, which is when the 171st Air Refueling Squadron became the 108th ARW).

The third aircraft trailed a little closer to the KC-135 than the KC-135 did to the C-17, and that was the KC-10 Extender.  The KC-10 is a much newer airplane than the KC-135, which dates back to 1956, while the KC-10 dates back to 1979.  However, the KC-10s at McGuire were not delivered to the base as brand new - they were transferred over from Seymour-Johnson AFB in North Carolina and Barksdale AFB in Louisiana in 1993 as a result of the disestablishments of Military Air Command and Tactical Air Command (which later became Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command, respectively), while some may have also come from March ARB in California.  Today, about 36 KC-10s reside at McGuire AFB with the 305th Air Mobility Wing while the remaining 23 are based at Travis AFB in California with the 60th Air Mobility Wing, with those numbers fluctuating from time to time.  The KC-10's pass also included its refueling boom extended, and the crew that flew that particular aircraft on both show days held some significance as well.  One was from Virginia Beach, which is part of one geographic area that I absolutely love to visit from time to time, while another came from North Jersey, and another was from Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Allentown is about the best and closest you could get for the immediate area.  

As the KC-135 and KC-10 landed, I overheard on the airboss frequency that another gap had to be put in place to allow a static display aircraft to arrive.  That would be the B-17F Flying Fortress, as he landed on Runway 6 a few minutes after the C-17 came in front of the crowd and bowed, followed by a demonstration of taxiing backwards.  The C-17 did fly its demonstration on Sunday, which consisted of a high speed pass to a high angle of climb turn to the left, followed by a slow speed pass with everything hanging out (gear and flaps), a slow speed pass with a minimum radius turn (anyone with a camera at hand would have gotten an excellent shot of the C-17 in the middle of the turn passing by the control tower) and a high angle of climb, followed by a short-field landing on Runway 6, and doing two demonstrations of the aircraft backing up in front of the crowd at show right and then at show left, and backing up all the way back to its parking spot over on the other side of the ramp.  For a C-17 demonstration, I was very impressed, especially for an air start demonstration (I missed its takeoff because the C-17, KC-135, and KC-10 took off before all the flying began and while I was walking the static display).  I can only hope that the NIMBYs that live around McGuire AFB have shut up once the C-17s came through (although it can put out a decent amount of jet noise when its on short final).  As the C-17 taxied back to its parking position, Chuck Lischer snuck into the air via Runway 24 to set up for his performance, but he had to wait a little bit because the B-17 was inbound, and landed on Runway 6, and the Golden Knights' C-31 Friendship departed Runway 24 to set up for their performance later on in the day.

Then Chuck was ready to perform.  It's going to sound a little funny, but its the truth.  Chuck had the most aerobatic performance from anyone that flew during the show!  McGuire did advertise a Paramotor and Herb & Ditto for their lineup but neither showed up, and I'm not sure if that's false advertisement or weather-related cancellations.  Later on, I saw that Herb Baker did indeed have McGuire AFB on his schedule.  Chuck flew an abbreviated performance on Saturday, but he was able to fly more of his vertical maneuvers because the clouds really started to break up and show quite a lot of blue sky towards show right and above show center.  Following Chuck's last maneuver, Scott Hammack fired up the Air Force Reserve Jet Car for a race with Chuck Lischer.  I was a little skeptical about the race because I thought he would be racing on the runway, thus making the race invisible to the crowd.  However, the race was behind the Blue Angels on taxiway Lima, which was excellent because it isn't really long (probably a little more than a mile long) and was practically in front of the crowd.  The race was a complete win for Scott, as according to the radar detector from a New Jersey State Police trooper, he was clocked in at 382 miles an hour.  To be honest, I think even that radar detector was tuned high, to go with my belief that all radar detectors that belong to the New Jersey State Police are fixed in a way that when you pass by them at say, 65 mph (which is the speed limit in my little scenario), they'll show you going 72 mph and pull you over for what they think you're speeding, yet you were actually doing the speed limit.

Following Chuck Lischer and Smoke & Thunder on Saturday was the Golden Knights as they came around for their streamer run and were followed by Allen Smith with his L-39 Albatross, taking off on Runway 24 to start his performance.  Allen told me that he will be taking most of the summer off to drop in a larger engine in his L-39, which will give him 1,400 more pounds of engine thrust for his performance.  I was talking to Allen after the show and he joked around saying he had the best ceiling of any performer on Saturday, and I knew he was joking and I didn't want to let him know that I thought that the F-16 demo had the best cloud deck!  Allen did not perform any vertical maneuvers on Saturday because of the clouds, but he did perform his full show on Sunday without any problems whatsoever.

Allen proceeded to land on Runway 6, with the T-6A Texan II demonstration coming up next.  The East Coast Demo Team out of Moody AFB in Georgia did not put on much of a demonstration, since only two passes were flown - a high speed pass and a photo pass.  Sunday's performance was the entire Texan II demonstration, and I had a really hard time focusing and trying to get decent pictures of the plane, but I ended up getting no pictures of the Texan II in flight.  The T-6A Texan II joined up with Kevin Russo in his SNJ for a Texan Heritage Flight, which was the first time I've ever seen a Texan Heritage Flight.  The Texans made a total of four passes, including a photo pass, a pass from the right in trail formation, one from the left in the fingertip formation, and a break from behind the crowd.  What I really liked was at the end both Kevin Russo and the Texan II (I didn't catch who was flying the plane, but I would guess Captain Rambo was flying it) did an opposing pass before Kevin departed for Reading and the Texan II landed at McGuire.  I really enjoyed the Texan Heritage Flight, and I think more pilots should be qualified to fly that.

During one middle part of the show on Sunday was a simulated rescue of a downed pilot in enemy territory.  Two aircraft participated in the demonstration, being an O-2A Skymaster and an AD-4 Skyraider, with the Skyraider being owned by Mike Schloss.  The Skymaster and Skyraider flew several simulated attack passes around the downed pilot before a scout helicopter would get into the area and extract the pilot (the helicopter was not utilized in the performance).  No pyrotechnics were used on the ground, but the volunteer who took the downed pilot role did carry a red smoke canister with her (yes, you heard that right).  It turned out she was part of the crew of the C-17 Globemaster III earlier in the day!

The Golden Knights were inbound at about 2,500 feet for their first pass with the narrator coming down with the POW/MIA flag.  During parts of their performance and during parts of the airshow in general on Saturday, the PA system was not working properly, cutting out audio after about one or two seconds.  It turns out the same sound company that was at Langley AFB was also contracted to provide the PA system for McGuire AFB's show, and they definitely need to clean up all of their PA system problems for good because they're starting to get a bad reputation.  Its usually the one day that has problems and the other day being problem-free, which doesn't make sense at all.  The second and final pass for the Golden Knights on Saturday was their mass exit, with all of the jumpers coming down one-by-one at show center but for us folks a little to the right of show center, I could not get them landing in front of the Blue Angels because of my angle in relation to the jump area.  The tradition of giving the baton to someone in the crowd continues, as Col. Jackson of the 305th AMW received Saturday's baton.  Sunday's afternoon performance for the Golden Knights featured their full show being done from 12,500 feet.  I was able to move around a bit on Sunday and happened to get some great pictures of some members landing with the NJ ANG KC-135s in the background.

I wasn't sure if there would be an F-16 demonstration since I thought it would have been after the F-15 demo or after the Heritage Flight, but it was set for after the Golden Knights on Saturday.  The West Coast Demo Team out of Hill AFB in Utah, with Captain Dax "Mojo" Cornelius did things a little differently.  Traditionally, if you want to see the single-ship demo teams "warm up" before they take off, they do so accordingly.  The Hill Viper guys incorporated it in their show, mainly because the demo F-15, F-16, and Texan II were parked less than 200 feet away from the crowd line and on the same patch of tarmac that the Blue Angels were parked on.  That was one very smart move by the McGuire folks.  My dad uses their ground show as an excuse for a gap in the flying display.  Mojo put on a modified performance, starting off with flying the low show maneuvers, which included the Level Eight, followed by a nice high speed pass before transitioning to the high show maneuvers in the demonstration.  Mojo was very liberal on the afterburner in the first half of the demonstration but then used the afterburner conservatively in the second half of the performance, but still put on a great show with some nice vapor coming off the F-16 and disappearing above the clouds in some of the vertical maneuvers.  The only problem with the demonstration was that Mojo flew really far away from the crowd, and I mean really far from the crowd!  Following Mojo on landing was a B-25 Mitchell that expedited off the runway, with a ten minute gap followed to get the airspace for the Blues.

Finally it was time for the Blue Angels to perform.  Fat Albert snuck into the air via Runway 24 since there was absolutely no way he could have done the JATO demonstration from over there or on the taxiway.  Fat Albert's demonstration started out with a sneak pass from behind the crowd, setting up for a simulated JATO takeoff along the taxiway (from an air start).  The demonstration went on as planned with the high speed pass, which seemed a lot lower than usual, and instead of the short-field landing, Fat Albert did a low pass from in front of the crowd and as he reached the taxiway behind the Blue Angels, the crew pulled the C-130 up into a vertical climb over the crowd.  I heard they got in trouble for that, but they still did the same maneuvers on Sunday!  The Blue Angels, however, were forced to fly the flat show on Saturday, which looked pretty good, and the team still looking real tight during many of the formations. Instead of the traditional airshow start (flat, low, or high show with runway in front of the crowd), the Blue Angels treated McGuire AFB as if it were a staged show site because of taking off on Runway 6.  Timing with the solos seemed to be a little off, as portions of the display had them repositioning quickly to fix that timing.  The clouds also rolled in, preventing any of the maneuvers that would have been found in the low show, but as Murphy's Law states, the clouds leave once the show is over.  Sunday's performance was a lot better, considering the team flew the high show, and it was the first time I had seen their high show since Dayton's show in 2003.  The delta formation break was flown over Runway 6, so it couldn't be shown in front of the crowd, but that was expected because of McGuire's layout.

Following the end of the show, I met up with Allen Smith and we hung out and talked for a while.  It turns out that someone that my dad worked with (I'm not sure if he still works with this person but I think so, considering the business he's in, he'll end up working with the same people at two or three different companies) is a very good friend of Allen's.  According to my dad, from what he told Allen, this person knew Allen owned an airplane (the T-34 Mentor) but probably didn't know about the L-39.  It was at that time that Allen told me about the modifications he'll be making to his L-39, with the new engine being dropped in.  It should be ready come Oceana weekend, so I'm really looking forward to that.  We didn't get off the base on Saturday until 5:30 pm, had absolutely no problems with traffic, and was home within 45 minutes, with a stop for gas along the way home.  Sunday, however, wasn't as good.  I did leave the base and head back to my truck at the same time, but there were more people who decided to stay late, and it took over an hour to get off base, with at least twelve lines of cars narrowing down into one line to exit a small gate and horns blaring left and right (remember, this is New Jersey!) and the military police having a field day, almost ready to pull random people out of cars to arrest them.

Overall for an airshow, it was a pretty good show.  To simplify that, for a show held at McGuire AFB, this was certainly their best airshow since 1994!  The gaps were there on Saturday, but were almost nonexistent on Sunday, save for the one gap in the show just prior to the Blue Angels to get the approved airspace.  There's still some more room for improvement for the next airshow, and I think there may be some folks from McGuire who are reading this, so I will outline my ideas to make the next airshow better:

Military Demonstration Teams

  • US Navy Blue Angels
  • US Army Golden Knights

Tentative Military Demonstrations

  • F-15 Eagle West Coast Demo Team
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon West Coast Demo Team
  • T-6A Texan II East Coast Demo Team
  • C-17 Globemaster III Demonstration
  • Team McGuire Flyover (KC-135, KC-10, C-17)
  • HH-65 Dauphin SAR Demonstration

Civillian Demonstrations

  • Allen Smith
  • Chuck Lischer
  • The Skytypers
  • Air Force Reserve Above & Beyond Jet Car
  • Mike Schloss
  • Herb & Ditto
  • Jim Beasley, Jr.
  • Nanchang CJ-6As
  • Cessna O-2A Skymaster
  • USAF Texan Flight
  • USAF Heritage Flight - F-15/F-16/P-51

Announcer: Larry Strain

Gates Open: 9:00 AM Saturday & Sunday

Showtime: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

McGuire AFB Open House & Airshow Webpage