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Highlights of the 2007 Point Mugu Airshow

Rob Harrison "The Tumbling Bear" opened the 2007 airshow at Naval Air Weapons Station Point Mugu, and he did his usual excellent job of wowing the crowds doing aerobatics in his Czech-designed Zlin 50 aircraft.

Rob Harrison wasn't the only civilian performer at the show, and he wasn't even the only civilian performer flying a Czech-designed aircraft!   This is Rich Perkins tossing around his L-39 Albatross, which was the Soviet Union's main military jet trainer during the latter part of the Cold War.   Rich himself spent his time on the other side of the iron curtain, flying U-2 spy planes with the US air force.

Point Mugu isn't the world's greatest show for lovers of classic warbirds, this year the only entry in this field was this P-51D Mustang called "Val Halla".   That silver and red paint scheme certainly looks good against the bright blue California sky!

The Mustang also participated in one of the air force's Heritage Flight displays, where old and new types fly in formation as a remembrance of the past service and sacrifices of air force personnel, as well as reminding us of the current work being done.

Point Mugu is a naval station, but it was fortunate enough to land the air force's Thunderbirds jet display team for this year's show.   They're always a great draw, and no doubt many Los Angeles area residents came to the show mainly to see their polished performance.

This might be a naval air base, but apart from the civilian performers this was an all air force affair!   Here's one of the latest model C-130J Hercules transport planes with its rear ramp extended; this model was introduced about 50 years after the original C-130A Hercules!

And here's something you don't see every day - a Hercules pulling vapor out of the air!   Look closely and you'll see that not only is there vapor on top of the wings, but it's also streaming off the propellers in long spirals.

The Hercules is slow and doesn't usually pull much moisture from the sky, and neither does this A-10 Thunderbolt II.   However Point Mugu is right on the coast and when conditions are right it's one of the best shows to see this effect - in 2004 there was a full vapor cone on the F-18F Super Hornet during its display.

And just to show it was no fluke, the pilot did it a few more times!   Someone should tell the organizers to consider changing the name of next year's airshow to "Vaporfest 2008"!

The F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" is another plane which isn't prone to vapor, but it still put on a great display in spite of its relatively low speed.   This was the last year of F-117 demonstrations, so it was good to see pilot Christina "Shaq" Shiraz do several very nice banked passes, and afterwards spend quite a bit of time at the crowdline answering everyone's questions.

No-one can accuse this F-15E Strike Eagle of being a slug, and it managed to pull vapor even when flying straight and level!   The Strike Eagle is a two-seat ground attack version of the classic F-15 Eagle, but it retains almost all of the regular Eagle's lethal air-to-air combat ability.

And here it shows how much water a fast jet can suck out of the sky!

The F-15's successor was also at the show in the form of the F-22 Raptor.   The F-117 "stealth fighter" is really a ground attack aircraft which doesn't even have guns or air-to-air weaponry, but the Raptor really deserves the name.   Not only is it completely stealthy, but its primary role is as an air superiority fighter.   Nevertheless, the Raptor's ability to carry a small load of smart bombs and place them accurately on target is the main reason why the Nighthawk is now being retired.

Of course much has been made of the Raptor's stealth capabilities, the extreme maneuverability afforded by its thrust vectoring engines and its ability to supercruise at supersonic speeds without using afterburners, but nobody has really answered the question that burns most fiercely in the minds of the public - can this thing pull vapor?   Today, finally, we answer that question!

And here's the answer that everyone's been waiting for, "Yes it can"!   Look very closely (you might need a magnifying glass) and you'll see that not only is there vapor coming off the wingtips, but there's also a layer of vapor on top of the wings!   What a magnificent spectacle!

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The Raptor pilot obviously wanted us to get a good look at the air force's latest acquisition, so he took the very unusual step of doing not one but two performances during the course of the day's show.

And as you can see, he was able to squeeze even more water out of the air!

Now we're talking!   He even has a faint rainbow forming in the vapor above the fuselage.

Oh yeah, look at this puppy hum!

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Anything the Eagle can do, the Raptor can do better!

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Whoa, baby!   Could it be that there really can be too much of a good thing?   Or is this "fast moving cloud" just another undocumented part of the Raptor stealth suite that we haven't seen before?

Wow!   Was that as good for you as it was for me?

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