On Saturday the wife and I headed over to NBVC - Pt. Mugu, a grueling 15 minute drive, and made our way to the parking lot. The traffic in was not as bad as I expected. I guess that a few people stayed home because of the final four tournament games on Saturday. As we entered the air show area, an A-10 was flying overhead. We walked through some of the "static displays," i.e. planes on the ground, including a couple of Russian MIGs. We stopped at a stand and bought a couple t-shirts before we found a good place to set up out folding chairs. The wife sat down to relax while I continued to walk around looking at the static displays while also taking pictures of the aerial acrobatics taking place above my head. I went over to the B-52 display. That is one large plane. After taking more pictures and checking out all the booths hawking everything from patches and pins to burgers and bratwurst, I picked up a couple of juicy cheeseburgers, a couple of bags of chips, and a couple of Diet Pepsis and sat down with the wife to have some lunch.
There were several aerobatic acts at the show. Everything from prop jobs and jets, single and biplanes. One interesting set was a small, one-seater jet, that ended with a low flight in front of an unexpected, exploding wall of fire that got the crowd really excited. In this picture, you can just make out the orange jet in front of wall of flame immediately above the pink and white umbrella. It isn't the best picture but I was surprised to get what I got.
After lunch and a few of the smaller acts, the big guns were brought out. First came the F-22 Raptor. All I can say is WOW! The F-22 is the latest and greatest in military aircraft. It took off and then turned its nose straight up - it looked like it pivoted in the air - and shot up. After breaking the sound barrier, and a few eardrums, it overflew the crowd several times. It's turns were so sharp that a cloud of vapor often formed of the surface of the wings obscuring the view of the plane. Totally awesome.
It was joined in the air by an F-18 Hornet. It too was impressive. The F-18 has been in service since 1978. The F-22 was first deployed in 2005. You could tell the difference watching these two planes. The F-22 was doing things that the F-18 only fantasized about doing. It was also unbelievable that 1978 technology was so impressive.
The last to take off and join the F-22 and F-18 was a a P-51 Mustang. While it seem a little pathetic next to the more modern jets, it was still cool. The three planes overflew the crowd in formation several times - I would guess the P-51 was going full bore and the two jets were throttled way back.
All three planes received a round of applause as they landed and taxied in.
This was going to be a hard act to follow but the Thunderbirds managed to do it nicely. They flew in several formations of two, four, five, and six planes. Some of the aerobatics appeared death defying and very well coordinated. An awesome show.
I took a total of 249 pictures. I was amazed that only about 10 or so turned out unusable. I've posted some of the best here. As you can see in the pictures, the weather was perfect for the show. The marine layer, a layer of fog that sometimes blows in off the ocean, dissipated in the sunlight before reaching the base. Quite a difference from last year when it was canceled due to bad weather. The only downside with the weather is that we are both have red faces since we didn't do a very good job with the sunscreen. My thighs and forearms are red as well. I have no excuse since we had sunscreen with us. I sprayed some on my legs but I'm sure I did it after the damage had been done.
After the Thunderbirds, everyone headed for the exits. What a fiasco. You would think the same organization that can coordinate the complex aerobatics could also direct traffic but you would be wrong. Our car moved about forty feet in about forty minutes. The Marine directing traffic didn't have a clue. At one point the wife went berserk and started unbuckling herself - she was going to give that Marine a piece of her mind. She didn't want to miss her basketball game. I grabbed her arm and managed to stop her but not before she reached over and honked the horn. Everyone else in line with us joined in. We eventually made it out of the parking lot, off the base, and made it home before the start of the game.
The day was finished off with a couple Tri-Tip sandwiches from Just Bar-B-Que (Yumm by the way). I very good day. We both enjoyed a leisurely sit in the sun watching the modern marvels of our military technology.