May 31-June 1, 2008
McGuire AFB, New Jersey
Airshow Report written on June 4, 2008.
For the second year in a row, McGuire AFB has played host to an airshow featuring the Thunderbirds. I can't remember the last time when McGuire had two consecutive years of airshows that featured a jet team, so this was a nice change of pace. The 2007 show featured a decent lineup, but the lineup for the 2008 show actually look pretty impressive, even for McGuire's standards. I say that because McGuire AFB had not had a decent airshow since 1994, when the Blue Angels visited and an F-14 Tomcat provided one of the highlights for that year's show. The 2005 and 2007 shows were among the better of the last several airshows, with less and less gaps in the schedule. The 2008 show featured more jets than in the past, both on the military and the civilian side of the performers lineup.
The 2008 McGuire AFB Open House & Air Expo was also held in conjunction with Air Force Week in Philadelphia, and was the culminating event of the week. Headlining along with the Thunderbirds were demonstrations by the F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team and the F-16 East Coast Demo Team. The base had originally stated that Major Paul "Max" Moga was also going to be in attendance and fly an F-22 Raptor, but McGuire was never on the 2008 F-22 demonstration schedule. The U.S. Navy provided another jet demonstration to McGuire - this time in the form of an F/A-18C Hornet. Aerobatic performances were covered by Matt Chapman, Ron Saglimbene, and Herb Baker. A BAC167 Strikemaster and L-29 Delphin of Red Star & the Dragon provided a classic jet dogfight act, along with the GEICO Skytypers and the Air Force Reserve Jet Car. Team McGuire was well represented with a KC-10 Extender, a KC-135R Stratotanker, and a C-17 Globemaster - with the C-17 providing a tactical demonstration and as the platform for a mass paradrop by the 82nd Airborne. Warbirds included a P-51D Mustang and an FG-1D Corsair flown by Dale Snodgrass and Dan Dameo, respectively. Finally, the Vintage Thunderbird T-33 that is owned by Fowler Carey was also in attendance, but flown by Jerry "Jive" Kerby.
As you know...or may not know, I have stated that one of the biggest challenges at McGuire AFB is the layout of the show site. There is no runway in front of the crowd that is actually parallel to the crowd line. The show runway, 6/24, is actually angled off to the left, and the EOR (end of runway) point for Runway 6 is actually out near show center, but about two miles away from the crowd line. This makes getting any takeoff and landing pictures absolutely impossible (you cannot see the start of Runway 24, no matter where you are on the flight line). The crowd line is, however, parallel to taxiway Lima, which has turned into a runway starting in 2007. Only a few of the performers were allowed to use Lima as a runway, and this year, one of the military performers got to use it as part of their demonstration profile, which I will get into later.
One of the best performances of the weekend came from the C-17 Globemaster III - the crew of which coming right from McGuire AFB's 6th Airlift Squadron. In years past, the C-17 demonstration commenced and concluded from either end of Runway 6/24, preventing us from seeing its takeoff, landing, and reverse thrust portions of the demonstration. This year, however, the crew was granted access to treat Lima as an assault runway. Just that fact made that into one of the better C-17 demonstrations I had ever seen. The McGuire crew also added in a photo pass to the demonstration, which was a nice touch, since the demo profile does not include a photo pass. The same aircraft and aircrew also provided an airdrop of members of the 82nd Airborne, which helped to open each day's show. Saturday's airdrop was among one of the most eventful parts of the entire weekend, as two members of the 82nd Airborne suffered non life-threatening head injuries. Following the jump, the crew joined up with a KC-10 Extender and a KC-135R Stratotanker for the base flight. I did not make a mistake by saying there was a KC-135R in the flight, because the 108th Air Refueling Wing (NJ ANG) had just started receiving KC-135Rs within the last several months.
One of the most unique acts of the weekend came from Jerry Conley and Andy Anderson in the L-29 and Strikemaster, respectively. The act, named Red Star & the Dragon, features the two pilots and aircraft in solo performances and then in a simulated dogfight, where Jerry (portrayed as a Russian pilot and ace named Ivan) goes after Andy as he lands in the conclusion of his performance, and both pilots try to use each other's weaknesses to each other's advantages. It is really tough to try and explain the dogfight portion of their act, but I definitely would recommend that you would go out and see it for yourself. Plus, take note of the outrageous paint jobs on both the L-29 and the Strikemaster - both of which were officially debuted in their aerial performance at McGuire AFB. Jerry "Jive" Kerby, who is retired from the USAF, flew a very nice aerobatic performance in the T-33 Shooting Star. If that aircraft looks familiar, it should. It is the famous Vintage Thunderbird that is owned by Fowler Carey, Jr. and is now flown by Jive, whose last assignment in the Air Force was as a Heritage Flight pilot in the QF-4E Phantom. The T-33 is a rather quiet aircraft, but is also a very sleek and rare aircraft on the airshow circuit.
Finally, the military jets helped make McGuire's 2008 show one of the loudest airshows in many years. Ritz and Wild helped put together one spectacular Strike Eagle demonstration while Major George "Dog" Clifford flew an outstanding performance in the F-16. Lt. Tom "Nemo" Hoyt, happened to be the odd man in the picture, as the Hornet was represented in an airshow with a heavy emphasis on the Air Force. Nevertheless, Nemo managed to put on a great Hornet demonstration on Sunday, which happened to be the only day of the weekend where any flying took place, as there was a threat of very severe thunderstorms on Saturday (which I don't think struck, but the heavy rain did and the high winds persisted even through Sunday, although they calmed down quite a bit). The Thunderbirds somehow managed to fly a complete high show on Sunday, even with the threat of scattered clouds at 5,000 feet hampering the Strike Eagle and Hornet demonstrations earlier in the day.
Despite Saturday's weather, this was definitely one of the better shows seen at McGuire AFB. Static displays seemed a little light, even for McGuire, but was made up by a HUGE contingent of McGuire-based aircraft, which included no less than three KC-10s, two C-17s, a KC-135E and KC-135R, and a whole slew of other aircraft, which included an EC-130J Command Solo, C-130 Hercules from Mansfield (complete with D-Day stripes and painted up to appear like a P-51 Mustang), an E-3B Sentry from Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, two Swamp Fox F-16CJs, two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, a C-5B Galaxy, to name a few. This is probably the last time that the 108th Air Refueling Wing will be able to display the KC-135E at an airshow at McGuire AFB, as the unit will continue to transition to the KC-135R and retire the KC-135E. I will definitely miss the KC-135E, as it is one of the louder aircraft in the Air Force's inventory and uses lower bypass turbofan engines as opposed to the high bypass turbofan engines of the KC-135R.
I would like to give a huge thank you to Airboss Ralph Royce and announcer Larry Strain for their help in assisting with my video on Sunday, along with thanks from everyone at McGuire AFB, both on the inside and on the outside, to Capt. Phil "Ritz" Smith, Ed "Wild" Colfer, and the entire Strike Eagle Demo Team for all their time, to Jerry Conley and Andy Anderson for taking time out in the morning to escort some photographers out to their jets and the same to Jive and Lunar for their time to check out the T-33, to Herb Baker for the time with Ditto, to Dan Dameo, Chris Baranaskas, Dale Snodgrass, Ron Saglimbene, and everyone else for taking time out to chat on Saturday as the weather made its way to McGuire.
Military Demonstration Teams
Military Aircraft Demonstrations
C-17 Globemaster III Demonstration
F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team
F-16 East Coast Demo Team
F/A-18C Hornet Demonstration - VFA-106
Team McGuire Flyby - KC-135, KC-10, C-17
Aerobatic Performances, Warbird Performances, and Others
Air Force Reserve Jet Car
Dr. Smoke Airshows
Red Star & The Dragon
Fowler Carey - Vintage Thunderbird
Team Fastrax Parachute Team
Herb & Ditto
USAF Heritage Flight
US Navy Legacy Flight
David Windmiller will not be in attendance - his Edge 540 is missing a canopy.
Warbirds Over Long Island
Rag Wings & Radials
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
11:00 AM - 4:30 PM