Miramar Airshow 2004 Highlights

This was an unfortunate year for the Miramar Airshow - aerobatics performer Sean deRosier was involved in a fatal crash on Friday, and bad weather on Saturday and Sunday forced the cancellation of many displays, and restrictions on others.   However, John Helton was able to do his "World's Smallest Aircraft Carrier" act both days, landing his 1940 Piper Cub on a moving Chevy van fitted with a roof rack, and then taking off again.

John Helton and his World's Smallest Aircraft Carrier act.

There were other novelty acts as well, including Robosaurus and the Shockwave jet truck, which certainly pleases the audience even if it isn't an aircraft!

Shockwave jet truck

The Shockwave truck "racing" the Red Bull MiG-17 fighter.   The truck races various aircraft at different shows, and somehow the plane always loses, probably because he's being paid to!   The truck has a high enough power to weight ratio to beat its competitors if they were both doing a standing start, but there's no way it can win as it did here from a standing start against an aircraft that's already in the air.

Shockwave jet truck 'racing' a MiG 17

The Patriots civilian jet display team did their usual proficient display in their attractive L39 Albatros jets, built in the Czech Republic.

Patriots civilian jet display team flying L39 Albatroses

The promised F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter wasn't able to make it because of commitments elsewhere, but the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber did a flyby.   As usual the stealth bomber did a high flat pass and turned around far from the viewing area, despite the large areas of empty space around Miramar.   I really don't know how it's possible for a display by such an extraordinary piece of technology to be boring, but I'll be saving my excitement up for the day when I see it bank with its top side toward the crowd.

B-2 Spirit stealth bomber

Yes, something like this pass by a world war two P-51 Mustang and its navy counterpart the F4U Corsair would do nicely!

P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair flying in formation

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off using afterburner before meeting up with "Val-halla" and another Mustang called "Six Shooter" for one of the air force's Heritage Flights.   The guy in back is the pilot for next year's demonstration season, learning the ropes from the current demo pilot.

F-16 Fighting Falcon taking off with afterburner

All of that water in the air did at least allow some of the aircraft to pull a lot of vapor out of the air as they did their turns.   This is the F-16 again, an aircraft which isn't normally associated with this much vapor.

F-16 Fighting Falcon pulling vapor

The highlight of the show for many people was the Marine Air Ground Task Force display.   This large CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter carried a 16,000 pound (7,250 kilogram) howitzer onto a simulated battlefield while a pair of CH-46 Sea Knights like the one in the background brought in troops.

CH-53 Sea Stallion carrying a 15,000 pound howitzer

A pair of AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter gunships also orbited around the area, performing simulated strafing runs to soften up the landing zone for the Sea Knights.   The F-18 Hornet and AV-8B which are usually involved in the display were grounded because of the low cloud ceiling, so the Super Cobra also had the honor of igniting the Wall of Fire which is a regular part of airshows in the United States.

AH-1 Super Cobra and the Wall of Fire   (click on this photo to open a new window with this photo in computer wallpaper format)

The end of the display brought an impressive Pass in Review by all of the helicopter types used in the display, as well as the troops on the ground with their tanks and armored personnel carriers.

MAGTF helicopters 'pass in review'

At the end of each daytime show the US Navy Blue Angels display team performed, and on Saturday showed that they were pretty proficient with the vapor, too.

Blue Angel F-18 Hornet pulling vapor

The dark blanket of clouds forced them to do their low show, but the audience didn't seem to mind as they buzzed in front of the display stands.

Blue Angels inverted head-on pass

At the end of one show we were treated to the extremely rare sight of one of the Blue Angels doing a tailhook landing, made possible by the arrested landing training equipment which crosses one of the runways at this base.   This wasn't part of the act, apparently it was made necessary by mechanical problems with the front nose gear.

Blue Angels tailhook landing
See highlights of the Miramar airshow in 2008.