McChord AFB Airshow 2010 Washington, USA
Chino Airshow 2010 California, USA
Yuma Airshow 2010 Arizona, USA
Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" Airshow 2009 Nevada, USA
Miramar Airshow 2009 California, USA
Edwards AFB Airshow 2009 California, USA
Chino Airshow 2009 California, USA
Riverside Airshow 2009 California, USA
Yuma Airshow 2009 Arizona, USA
Miramar Airshow 2008 California, USA
Midland Airshow 2008 Texas, USA
Chino Airshow 2008 California, USA
Riverside Airshow 2008 California, USA
Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" Airshow 2007 Nevada, USA
Miramar Airshow 2007 California, USA
Midland CAF Airshow 2007 Texas, USA
Camarillo Airshow 2007 California, USA
Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2007 Michigan, USA
Point Mugu Airshow 2007 California, USA
Riverside Airshow 2007 California, USA
Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" Airshow 2006 Nevada, USA
Edwards AFB Airshow 2006 California, USA
Miramar Airshow 2006 California, USA
Midland CAF Airshow 2006 Texas, USA
Prescott Air Fair  (Arizona Skyfest) 2006 Arizona, USA
Gidroaviasalon 2006 Gelendzhik, Russia
Czech International Air Fair 2006 Brno, Czech Republic
Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2006 Michigan, USA
Chino 2006 California, USA
March Field ARB 2006 California, USA
Gillespie Airshow 2006 California, USA
Cable Airshow 2006 California, USA
Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" 2005 Nevada, USA
Edwards AFB 2005 California, USA
Prescott Air Fair  (Arizona Skyfest)  2005 Arizona, USA
Oceana 2005 Virginia, USA
MAKS 2005 Moscow, Russia
Hawthorne 2005 California, USA
Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2005 Michigan, USA
Selfridge ANGB 2005 Michigan, USA
Gillespie 2005 California, USA
Holloman AFB 2005 New Mexico, USA
Riverside 2005 California, USA
El Centro 2005 California, USA
Yuma 2005 Arizona, USA
Nellis 2004 Nevada, USA
Jacqueline Cochran Air Show 2004 California, USA
Vandenburg 2004 California, USA
Miramar 2004 California, USA
Kern County 2004 California, USA
Prescott Air Fair 2004 Arizona, USA
Point Mugu 2004 California, USA
Chino 2004 California, USA
March Field 2004 California, USA
El Centro 2004 California, USA
Yuma 2004 Arizona, USA
Chicago Air and Water Show 2003 Illinois, USA
Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2003 Michigan, USA
Oshkosh AirVenture 2003 Wisconsin, USA
Dayton 2003 Ohio, USA
Indianapolis Gathering of Corsairs 2002 Indiana, USA
Chicago Air and Water Show 2002 Illinois, USA
Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2002 Michigan, USA
Elkhart 2002 Indiana, USA
Oshkosh AirVenture 2002 Wisconsin, USA
Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2002 Fairford, UK
Duxford Flying Legends 2002 Cambridgeshire, UK
Indianapolis 2001 Indiana, USA
Chicago Air and Water Show 2001 Illinois, USA
Oshkosh AirVenture 2001 Wisconsin, USA
Frederick 2000 Maryland, USA
Wilkes-Barre 2000 Pennsylvania, USA
Oshkosh AirVenture 1999 Wisconsin, USA
Andrews Air Force Base 1998 Maryland, USA
Townsville Australia
Royal New Zealand Air Force Wigram, New Zealand
Christchurch Airport Open Day Christchurch, New Zealand
Warbirds over Wanaka 1996 Wanaka, New Zealand

McChord AFB Airshow 2010

The 2010 McChord airshow suffered from cloudy skies each morning of the show, which is no surprise considering the show's proximity to Seattle.

Because of the low cloud ceiling the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner airliner was unable to do a pass on its way to the Paris Air Show, the UH-1 Iroquois and AH-1 Cobra helicopter demonstration was done under gloomy grey clouds, as was the show put on by several C-17 Globemasters based at McChord, who nevertheless did parachute drops of both troops and cargo.

However, the marine layer cloud burned off by midday, and the organizers sensibly delayed a lot of the flying so it could happen under clear blue skies.

This was a great event for anyone interested in historic military jets, such as this F-86 Sabre painted in an authentic camouflage scheme which was only used for a year or so during the 1950s.

The camouflage Sabre flew with an all-yellow Sabre from over the border in Canada, and there was also a T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer, the world's only FJ-4 Fury naval jet fighter flying with a MiG-17 "Fresco" fighter and the training version of the MiG-15 "Fagot" fighter.   An F-4 Phantom II from the Vietnam War era rounded out the lineup.

Fans of World War Two propeller aircraft weren't as well catered for, having to content themselves with an F8F Bearcat, and a P-51 Mustang which flew too far away from the crowd.

The show did cater well for people who like modern military aircraft.   As well as the C-17 display, there was also a pass or two from a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and a good performance by an A-10 Thunderbolt II (better known to most as a "warthog") with pyrotechnics ably put on by Chris Rainey and his team of Pyrotechs.

Those with a need for speed were kept happy with fast afterburner passes from an F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the vapor fiends had not only the F-16 to satisfy their needs but also an F-18F Super Hornet, which seemed to pull vapor when it was flying flat, pulling up, in fact doing any maneuver at all!

Finally, the Patriots jet team flying their Soviet L-39 jet trainers provided some civilian speed and pizzazz, with cool tricks like the tail slide, which American military jet teams don't do.

Chino Airshow 2010

The 2010 Chino airshow was a must-see for aircraft enthusiasts who like to see warbirds in tight formation, like this P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang and Supermarine Spitfire.

There were plenty of other formations, such as an A-1 Skyraider and T-28 Fennec, an F-86 Sabre with a MiG-15 "Fagot", and an Air Force "Heritage Flight" with two P-38s, a P-51 and an F-16 Fighting Falcon.   We were also treated to formations by single types, like two F6F Hellcats, two F4U Corsairs, and three P-51s with both high-back and low-back models together.

As usual, Chino turned on some unusual aircraft, such as their N9MB Flying Wing and their Mitsubishi Zero, the only authentic one in the world which is still flying.

The show featured the only razor-back P-47 Thunderbolt still flying, two early model high-back Mustangs, a fighter-bomber version of the Mustang, and an A-36 Invader, the dive-bomber version of the Mustang.

There were also several interesting paint schemes on otherwise ordinary aircraft, like a B-25 Mitchell bomber in Russian Air Force "Lend Lease" markings, the Fennec in French Air Force colors, and the MiG-15 in the North Korean color scheme.

Chino is mainly a warbird show, but they do cater for people who like something modern.

This year the lineup had military performances by a C-17 Globemaster III and the Viper West F-16 Fighting Falcon display team, and also a civilian aerobatic performance by Clay Lacy flying his Lear 24 corporate jet, complete with smoke makers!

Miramar Airshow 2008   (California, USA)

After a string of bad luck, the 2008 Miramar airshow finally got a break on the weather, with mostly fine skies for performers to fly in.

As usual there was a good selection of the world's finest aerobatic pilots, including Sean D. Tucker, as well as a polished performance by the US navy's Blue Angel display team, who are regular visitors to this large show.

Another regular feature of the show is lots of vapor, both for air force birds like the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor, as well as marine corps and navy F-18 Hornets, who just couldn't let themselves be out-vapored by "that other service".

For many people the highlight of every show at Miramar is the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) demonstration, which is probably the world's premier helicopter display, with simulated refuellings, and a mock attack involving fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter gunships, transports landing marines right in front of the crowd, and heavies like these CH-53 Sea Stallions landing equipment like humvees and 105mm mortars.

Commemorative Air Force Midland Airshow 2008

The 2008 Midland airshow was affected like many others this year by a significantly lower turnout of aircraft, mostly caused by a huge runup in the price of fuel which saw prices more than double in the space of 12 months, as well as by a couple of hurricanes which blew through Texas a few weeks before the show, forcing some performers to cancel.

However it was still one of the world's best warbirds shows of the year, with a number of interesting formations courtesy of the pilots of the P-51 Mustangs joining up with this A-26 Invader, a B-17 Flying Fortress, and failing all else, each other.

The website for this year's show promised an extended Vietnam era display, but there ended up being fewer aircraft than usual, a particular disappointment being that the helicopter contingent was reduced to a single UH-1 "Huey".

However there were a couple of Skyraiders, one a single seat air force version and the other a four seat navy version, and this fairly uncommon OV-1 Mohawk which also did a top-rate display.

This year it was the air force's turn to provide the modern military component of the show, with a couple of Texas air national guard F-16 Fighting Falcons opening the show, and an A-10 Thunderbolt II doing an impressive diving and banking display right in front of the crowd, enhanced by the usual expertly orchestrated pyrotechnics.

Chino Airshow 2008   (California, USA)

The theme of the 2008 Chino Airshow was "Wings of the Silver Screen", highlighting aircraft which have appeared in movies since world war two.

In the "Hollywood Goes to the Pacific" sequence, there were displays by four F4U Corsairs, a type which not only appeared in movies but also in TV series like "Baa, Baa Black Sheep".   Other Pacific movie aircraft flying at the show included a Dauntless dive bomber, and a replica Japanese "Val" dive bomber used in "Tora, Tora, Tora".

"Filming the War Over Europe" had a spectacular formation flypast of a B-25 Mitchell alongside the "12 O'Clock High" B-17 Flying Fortress "Fuddy Duddy".

The main American fighters of the European theater were well represented, with two P-38 Lightnings, two P-40 Warhawks, a P-47G Thunderbolt and no fewer than seven P-51 Mustangs in the air at one time.

Jet lovers were also well catered for, with a T-33 Shooting Star, MiG-15 "Fagot" and F-86 Sabre, the latter two of which flew for this year's "Iron Man" movie.

The modern military also provided an F-16 Fighting Falcon to do some turning and burning, as well as an excellent "Heritage Flight" with the P-38J Lightning "23 Skidoo" and the P-51D "Wee Willy II".

Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" Airshow 2007

This year's "Aviation Nation" airshow at Nellis air force base outside Las Vegas drew the largest crowd seen for many years, as the air force celebrated 60 years as an independent branch of the US military.

The show featured aircraft from newly every period of operation, from the modern USAF all the way back to aircraft used by the US Army Air Corps, like this replica S.E.5a used in the first world war.

One of the highlights of this year's show was a rare performance by a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber during the Vietnam war sequence, which also included A-1 Skyraiders, an A-37 Mosquito, AC-47 Spooky gunship and Huey helicopters.

As well as doing a takeoff and landing, the Stratofortress also did a simulated bomb run with a pyrotechnic "wall of fire".

This year saw the most extensive routine yet by the air force's latest fighter, the F-22 Raptor, as it displayed the extraordinary maneuvers made possible by its thrust-vectoring engines.

An appearance was also made by the MQ-9 Reaper armed drone, the big brother of the MQ-1 Predator.   Several times faster that the Predator, and with a much greater ordnance carrying capability, it promises to play an increasing role in future warfare.

CAF Midland Airshow 2007   (Texas, USA)

The annual Commemorative Air Force airshow at Midland airport in Texas continues to be the best place in the world to see many different types of warbirds flying together in one place, including bombers like the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell, transport planes like the C-47 Skytrain and its navy equivalent the R4D, as well as the world's only C-46 Commando still on the airshow circuit.

B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell
replica Val dive bomber

The 2007 CAF Midland airshow had many other rarely seen ex-military aircraft on display, too.

The "Tora, Tora, Tora" display team flew a large array of replica Zero fighters, Kate torpedo bombers and Val dive bombers, but there was an authentic Zero at the show, together with original American naval types like the F4F Wildcat, F4U Corsair, F6F Hellcat, a pair of TBM Avengers and the rare SBD Dauntless and SB2C Helldiver.

For those with a need for speed, there was plenty of modern equipment on display, such as a pair of local air national guard F-16 Fighting Falcons, an F-15E Strike Eagle and this F-18F Super Hornet which put on an impressive turn of speed.   The Strike Eagle flew an excellent formation with a world war two P-47 Thunderbolt and, not to be outdone, the Super Hornet flew in formation with the Wildcat and Corsair.

Even the whirlibird enthusiasts were catered for, the Vietnam reenactment including a pair of Hueys and a Huey Cobra gunship flying alongside fixed-wing aircraft of the same period.

F-18F Super Hornet

Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2007

Every year the Thunder Over Michigan airshow brings together large numbers of warbirds, including large numbers of a single type.

The peak year for the show must have been 2005, when they were able to bring together eight of America's nine airworthy B-17 Flying Fortresses.   This year it was the turn of the B-25 Mitchell, with no fewer than fifteen of these bombers in the air at one time, the most since filming of the movie "Catch 22".

But this show isn't a one-trick pony.   As well as all of the airshow regulars like five P-51 Mustangs, three P-47 Thunderbolts, a P-40 Warhawk, two F4U Corsairs and an F8F Bearcat, there were also rarities like this H-34 Seahorse helicopter, the only one flying on the airshow circuit, a T-2 Buckeye, one of the uglier aircraft to ever grace the US military inventory, and also a T-33 trainer, America's first jet trainer, developed from America's first operational jet fighter.

In an encouraging display of fresh thinking, the organizers of this year's event experimented with several major changes to the show.

The most notable change involved moving the entire crowd area onto the huge grassed area in the middle of the airfield, which provided far more space for ordinary showgoers than the previous arrangement.   Another major departure was to invite the navy's Blue Angels display team, guaranteeing a far larger attendance than usual which provided a welcome shot in the arm to the effort to replace the museum's buildings which burned down a few years ago.

NAWS Point Mugu Airshow 2007

The 2007 airshow at Naval Air Weapons Station Point Mugu, just north of Los Angeles, started much like any other, with civilian aerobatic acts like Rob Harrison the "Tumbling Bear" flying his Zlin 50 and Rich Perkins flying another Czech import, the L-39 Albatross jet trainer.

There wasn't much in the way of classic warbirds flying, though a very nice four-ship Heritage Flight was put together with the P-51D Mustang "Val Halla".

The show took a slightly unusual turn when various military aircraft like a C-130J Hercules and an A-10 Thunderbolt II which don't normally pull vapor out of the sky started doing so with seeming ease.

Even this F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter", in its last year of regular airshow demonstrations, showed that it could suck moisture from the sky.

However it was left to the Big Boys, in the form of an F-15E Strike Eagle and its successor the F-22 Raptor, a true stealth fighter, to show how it was done, and at times an extremely fast-moving cloud was all that was visible of the aircraft.

Riverside Airshow 2007   (California, USA)

The organizers of the 2007 Riverside airshow again put on an excellent event, with a very solid turnout of aerobatic performers and warbirds, such as this F6F Hellcat formation with a Mitsubishi Zero courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force wing based at Camarillo.

There was also plenty of military participation, with two California Air National Guard F-16 fighters, a marine corp F-18 Hornet, an A-10 Thunderbolt II "warthog" and an F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" in one of its last outings before retirement.

The surprise highlight of the show, however, was provided by the local air base at March Field, whose KC-135 Stratotanker did several passes, but who left the star turn up to the C-17 Globemaster III, which made a takeoff so spectacular that it's bound to be the talk of local aviation enthusiasts for years to come.

Riverside is always a good place to catch interesting departures, which is the only opportunity to see many aircraft flying which attend airshows only as static exhibits.   Some of the notable aircraft this year were an An-2 "Colt", the largest single-engined biplane ever built, a rare Australian Winjeel trainer, and Camarillo's C-46 Commando.

The departures this year were particularly rich in helicopters, none more interesting than this piston-engined H-21 Shawnee, known to many as "the flying banana" because of its unusual shape.

Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" Airshow 2006   (Nevada, USA)

The 2006 Aviation Nation airshow held at Nellis air force base near Las Vegas was the first chance for many people to see one of the air force's newest assets, the CV-22 Osprey, which is capable of hovering like a helicopter or flying like a regular aircraft.

The show also boasted several other fairly new pieces of hardware, such as an F-22 Raptor fighter and an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft, sporting a pair of hellfire missiles.

The show also marked the debut of a most unexpected aerobatic act in the form of this German designed Bo-105 helicopter, which is capable of some most unhelicopter-like maneuvers, such as barrel rolls and loops.   The Bo-105 is sponsored by the company that makes the Red Bull energy drink, and they also had a Russian designed MiG-17 fighter in the air and a Grumman Albatross seaplane on static display.

All of the usual warbird displays were there too, with a good selection of  American world war two navy and air force fighters, including the P-38 "Glacier Girl".   An F-15, F-16 and F-22 provided modern participation, and the F-15 even had a dramatic burner blowout during its performance.   I photographed the warbirds air-to-air as well as participants in a Green Flag military exercise happening during the media day.

Hopes for having two British jet fighters, the classic Hawker Hunter and the newly operational Eurofighter Typhoon were dashed, but the show did have a rarely seen trio of British propeller driven fighters - a Firefly, Sea Fury and two-seat Spitfire.   And a full display by a Belgian air force F-16 showed why their routine is widely regarded as being one of the best in the world.

Edwards AFB Airshow 2006

The 2006 airshow held at Edwards air force base, in the high desert north of Los Angeles, is likely to be the last for a while, as the base struggles with the conflicting requirements for recruiting, operating as a test facility and saving money during a period in which the American military is severely stretched.

The show was certainly thinner than previous years, with fewer aircraft flying and long gaps between displays, however it was still very worthwhile, providing excellent opportunities to see displays by aircraft like the F-117 Nighthawk, which will soon be retired.

The show continued with the traditions which make Edwards different than other shows, including formation flights of modern military types, which put an F-22 Raptor together with F-16 Fighting Falcons, a T-38 Talon and an F-117 Nighthawk, as well as a B-1 Lancer with a B-52 Superfortress, and a C-17 Globemaster III with a KC-135 Stratotanker.

In an effort to encourage the public to make the drive up from Los Angeles, this year's show including the air force Thunderbirds display team, which made life difficult for media photographers by their requirements for an extended display box, but added the usual spice and zing which brings regular people out to such events.

Midland Airsho 2006   (Texas, USA)

The Midland Airsho in Texas is one of the three best warbird shows in America, along with the Thunder Over Michigan airshow near Detroit and the Chino airshow in California.

Midland is an excellent place to see a very wide range of world war two military aircraft, including many rare types such as the SBD Dauntless, SB2C Helldiver, and rare variants of common types, such as the navy's R4D Dakota and the marine corps' PBJ Mitchell, shown here.

PBJ-1J Mitchell 'Devil Dog'

Midland is home base for the Commemorative Air Force, which has wings scattered all around America as well as in several other countries.

Since this is headquarters for the entire organization, aircraft fly in from all over the United States.   The Pearl Harbor commemoration team "Tora, Tora, Tora" displays all around the USA, but the show at Midland is easily the biggest, with large numbers of replica Japanese Zero fighters, Kate torpedo bombers and Val dive bombers.   A huge pyrotechnics team adds to the action with the largest pyrotechnics spread anywhere.

Midland is one of the few airshows in the United States with a significant helicopter display.

This year's show included a modern army Chinook helicopter on static display, together with flying demonstrations by an H-13 Sioux, UH-1 Iroquois, better known as the "Huey" as well as this superbly restored AH-1 "Huey" Cobra.

Arizona Skyfest (Prescott Air Fair)  2006

Arizona Skyfest, also known as the Prescott Air Fair, features many talented aerobatics performers, including world-class acts like Tim Weber, Rob Harrison "The Flying Bear" and Frank Donnelly, with his display called "Dr D's Old-Time Aerobatics".

Together with an L-39 Albatross, this immaculate MiG-17 "Fresco" put on a great show for fans of jet power, continuing a tradition at past years' Skyfests which have had participation from an F-86 Sabre, F-4 Phantom II, as well as modern types from most branches of the military like the F-18 Hornet, F-15 Eagle and AV-8B Harrier.

Prescott's great strength is its warbirds display, this year consisting of world war two types like this P-38 Lightning and Mitsubishi Zero, a P-40 Warhawk, a pair of P-51 Mustangs, a replica Spitfire Mk IX and the superb B-25H Mitchell  "Barbie III", equipped with a 75mm cannon.

For the Vietnam era demonstration, Bob Grondzik brought his A-1 Skyraider and T-28 Fennec, and the MiG-17 also performed.   A MiG-21 "Fishbed" fighter jet was at the show but hydraulic problems prevented it from flying during the weekend

Gidroaviasalon 2006   (Gelendzhik, Russia)

Gidroaviasalon ("hydro aviation exhibition") is held annually in the town of Gelendzhik at the Beriev test facility on the Russian Shore of the Black Sea.

It's intended as a trade show and is rather frustrating for the attending aviation enthusiasts, because each year many of the aircraft listed on the schedule don't show up.

Ka-27 'Helix-As'
Beriev A-42 and Be-200

However it's worth making the trip at least once, if only to see the extraordinary giant jet-powered seaplanes which are Beriev's current stock-in-trade.

Other highlights of the show are the helicopters which make a brief appearance, this year a pair of Ka-27 "Helix-A" helicopters which flew once to open the show, and a pair of Mi-8 "Hip" helicopters, one dropping parachutists and the other just coincidentally passing through.

It's thin pickings for such a difficult journey, but redeemed somewhat by the presence of two of the Russian air force's jet display teams, the "Russian Knights" flying Su-27 "Flanker" fighters, and the "Swifts" flying MiG-29 "Fulcrum" fighters.

Russian Knight firing flares

Czech International Air Fair 2006   (Brno, Czech Republic)

I was lured to the Czech International Air Fair by the promise of seeing Mi-24 "Hind" helicopter gunships, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.    The show was a feast for helicopter lovers, with Western types like a German air force UH-1 and a Bo-105, as well as Eastern designs like the W3A Sokol, Mi-8 and Mi-17 "Hips" as well as multiple ship flypasts and demonstrations by both the Czech and Slovak air forces.

The show lived up to its "international" moniker, with plenty of exotic fixed wing aircraft from exotic places on display, including fighters like these recently introduced Saab Gripens of the Czech air force, as well as Slovakian and Hungarian MiG-29 "Fulcrums" and a Spanish air force EF-18A+ Hornet.

Even the cargo types provided plenty of interest, with a Polish air force An-26 "Curl", NATO E-3A Sentry AWACS, an Italian air force C-27J Spartan which did an extraordinary display including a complete loop, as well as a Khazakstani IL-76 "Candid", which wasn't part of the show but happened to be in town on a freight run.

The C-27 was in town as support for the Italian air force jet team, Frecce Tricolori, which put on an excellent show with their nine ship formations and solo plane, as well as appearing as a single formation with the Spartan.

Although it ended up that the Russian air force Swifts and their MiG-29s weren't able to attend, the Polish air force "red and white sparks" flew a four ship of TS-11 Iskra trainers, and the Swedish air force "Team 60" showed off six of their Saab 105s.

Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" Airshow 2006   (Michigan, USA)

This year's Thunder Over Michigan airshow west of Detroit brought together the best collection of British and German world war two aircraft seen in the United States this year.   On the British side there were two Spitfire fighters, two Hurricane fighters, a P-51D Mustang in Canadian paint scheme and an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber, and on the German side there was a Ju 52 transport and the only Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter in North America with a German engine.

British Hurricane fighter

Fans of American designed world war two aircraft weren't disappointed either, with the Planes Of Fame P-38J Lightning coming all the way from California, and other types such as a P-40 Warhawk, several P-51D Mustangs, two B-25 Mitchell bombers, the Yankee Air Museum's own B-17 Flying Fortress "Yankee Lady", as well as navy types like the Grumman Avenger and Chance-Vought Corsair.

Other more modern types also flew in, including one of the Collings Foundation's most recent acquistions, this TA-4J Skyhawk, which flew solo and in formation with the Corsair.   An even earlier jet, Will Ward's Russian designed MiG-17 "Fresco" jet fighter, put on a great show including liberal use of its afterburner.   The Viper East F-16 demonstration team did a tactical demonstration and then a "Heritage Flight" in formation with the P-38 and a P-51.   Anyone who was around for the arrivals and departures also got treated to a C-54 Skymaster, T-2 Buckeye and T-45 Goshawk.

Chino Airshow 2006   (California, USA)

Once again the organizers of the Chino airshow demonstrated why this is one of the top warbird gatherings in the world.

The highlights of this year's show were several unique restored aircraft, including this pre-war P-26 Peashooter and a Seversky AT-12 Guardsman trainer.   Unbelievably the museum at Chino also had an XP-59 Airacomet on static display which they plan on restoring to flying condition over the next few years.   This was America's first jet aircraft, developed as a fighter during world war two.

Until that time, Chino has plenty of other rare aircraft on show, including the only Mitsubishi Zero in the world still flying with its original Japanese engine, as well as a very early model P-51A Mustang.

The show also had an unusually large number of British aircraft flying, with a Spitfire and two naval fighters, the Fairey Firefly and the Hawker Sea Fury, a very popular aircraft on the American racing circuit.   There was also an F6F Hellcat in a Royal Navy color scheme.

In addition to all of these rare aircraft the Chino show offers a very complete selection of world war two aircraft, with a P-40 Warhawk, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustangs, P-63 Kingcobra and P-47 Thunderbolts, including a very rare early razorback model, as well as naval types like the Grumman F3F biplane fighter, and its successors the F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat.   Other manufacturers were represented by an F4U Corsair and an A-1 Skyraider.

Nellis AFB "Aviation Nation" 2005   (Nevada, USA)

The 2005 "Aviation Nation" airshow at Nellis air force base near Las Vegas carried the theme "welcoming home our Vietnam veterans" and included the largest collection of Vietnam era aircraft gathered together this year.   As well as the iconic UH-1 "Huey" helicopters, there was also an F-4 Phantom II fighter and an impressive group of ground attack aircraft, like an OV-10 Bronco, A-37 Dragonfly, AC-47 "Spooky" gunship and a pair of Skyraiders, one the commonly seen one man AD-4s and the other an immaculately restored four-man A-1E.

There were plenty of other highlights to keep the crowd amused, including an excellent static display, aerobatics, world war two aircraft and modern aircraft like the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the air force's latest acquistion, the F-22 Raptor.

It was a real thrill to see the Raptor finally do something at an air show other than high, flat passes like the F-117 and B-2.   It seems that someone up there mercifully decided to let this ultra-maneuverable airplane do low takeoff passes, banked passes and steep afterburner climbs, a great portent of things to come.

Another glimpse of the future came with the first ever public display by a Predator unmanned combat air vehicle, complete with inert hellfire missiles.   The Predator did a simulated attack run with pyrotechnics, and even provided high level footage on giant TV screens of the Thunderbirds jet display team as they did their end of the year homecoming demonstration.

Prescott Air Fair 2005   (Arizona, USA)

This year's Prescott Air Fair (also known as the Arizona Skyfest) was another single day airshow with an excellent range of civil and military acts, including a high-speed pass at the start of the show by an air force F-15 Eagle fighter.

As well as this beautiful British-designed Sea Fury naval fighter, there were many other favorite world war two aircraft on display, including a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, a P-51D Mustang fighter and a C-47 Skytrain ("Dakota") transport.

The show continued with its tradition of having some out of the ordinary aircraft on display.

Last year a simulated water bombing was done by the oldest C-130 Hercules still in operation anywhere in the world, and this year there was an even more exotic water bomber on show, a Canadian designed CL-215 "Super Scooper".   The other rarely seen type was a Helio Stallion, which put on the sort of extraordinary short takeoff and landing performance that made it a favorite of the CIA operating in Indochina during the Vietnam war.

The Stallion wasn't the only Vietnam type on show, there were also displays by a T-28 Trojan, F-86 Sabre, a Russian, MiG-17 "Fresco", and a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, better known to millions of Americans as the "Huey".

However the show's crowning glory was a genuine F-4D Phantom II fighter jet, the only one in civilian ownership anywhere in the world.  It put on an excellent show of speed, noise and power to cap off the show.   You can also see some air-to-air photos I took of this same aircraft after the show.

Edwards AFB 2005   (California, USA)

Edwards air force base has long been the main aircraft test site for the United States Air Force.   Located in the desert northeast of Los Angeles, it incorporates Roger's Dry Lake, a huge expanse of tightly packed ground where test aircraft can make unimpeded landings.   The air shows held at Edwards give the public a chance to see aircraft they'll never see anywhere else, highlights of this year's show included this YF-117 "stealth fighter" painted in a distinctive American flag color scheme, as well as NASA aircraft like the ER-2, derived from the U-2 spy plane, and the ACTIVE F-15 with canard wings, which was used to test technologies like thrust vectoring.

As well as oddball aircraft, Edwards is also the best place to see performances by better known aircraft like the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit "stealth bomber", B-52 Superfortress and F-22 Raptor.   It's one of the few places where you can see these aircraft takeoff, perform and land all in the same display, rather than flying in from another elsewhere.   Since this base is far out in the desert and away from populated areas, there's also more liberty to do interesting maneuvers.   As a test facility there's also a willingness to show goodies that don't normally get displayed, such as this pass by the F-22 Raptor with its weapons bays open - a first at a public display.

The Edwards show has several special features not found at other shows, such as having aircraft break the sound barrier - in 2005 this was done by an F-16 Fighting Falcon at the start of the show, and by a B-1 Lancer later in the day.

The static display is also special, this year with NASA aircraft like the 747 which was modified to carry the space shuttle, and the B-52 used to air launch the X-15 and many of the other aircraft which were used here to push back the flight envelope in the 1950s and 1960s.

Edwards is also known for the flyby that happens at the end of each show, with about a dozen aircraft in the current inventory together in one mass formation.

Oceana 2005   (Virginia, USA)

The most talked about airshow in America in 2005 was held at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia.   Journalists, photographers and others came from throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, the UK, Holland, Germany, Italy, Japan and Australia all for one thing - to see the legendary F-14 Tomcat naval fighter fly one last time.   Soon to be retired, it seemed as if there wouldn't even be a formal farewell, but at the last moment the top brass relented and a demonstration team was quickly requalified.

This would have been a very good airshow even if no Tomcat had flown during the show.   Although they were definitely the star attraction, other highlights of the show included infrequently seen aircraft like an E-2C+ Hawkeye and a Canadian Buffalo transport plane, as well as an exceptionally rare and skillful display of formation flying by two F-86 Sabre jet fighters.   The show's USAF Heritage Flight included a Phantom II, a plane with as large and enthusiastic following as the Tomcat.   There was vapor all around, not only for vapor-prone aircraft like the Hornet and the Tomcat, but even for normally low-vapor planes like the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Joe Public, who probably can't tell an F-14 from an A-10, was well catered for, with the navy Blue Angels jet display team on hand both for daytime and evening performances.   The "Beach Blast" held on Saturday night along the Atlantic coastline was a bit thinner than usual, but the US Army "Black Dagger" and the British "Red Devils" parachute display teams were a welcome addition.   Aviation enthusiasts had not only the Hawkeye and Buffalo to keep them amused, but also passes by a C-5 Galaxy, B-52 Stratofortress and PBY Catalina on the arrival and departure days.

MAKS 2005   (Moscow, Russia)

The biannual MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon held at the Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow is a wonderful antidote for hardcore aviation enthusiasts suffering from an overdose of F-16s, F-18s, Tornadoes and other western aircraft.   Russia is hoping to make MAKS the equivalent of the Paris Air Show or the Farnborough Air Show, a place for selling aircraft and aerospace equipment as well as showing them off to the public.   For this reason visitors see airliners and other civil equipment being put through their paces, as well as the latest MiG-29 and Su-27 fighter jets doing their ear-splitting displays.
Su-27SMK 'Flanker'
Kamov Ka-50 Black Shark

Of course the fighters are one of the highlights of the show but there are many others, including performances by less well known Russian aircraft like the Su-25 "Frogfoot" ground attack aircraft, the Myasischev M-55 Geophysika high-altitude research plane, and new Yak and MiG trainer jets.   There were also a number of interesting helicopters on display like this Kamov Ka-50 Black Shark gunship, a Ka-31 "Helix" naval radar picket, a new Kazan Ansat 2RC armed reconnaisance helicopter and a venerable Mi-8 "Hip" which dropped a parachute team.

Since this is an international show there is a significant amount of participation by foreign aircraft.   This year the French flew their Mirage 2000 fighter for the first time in Russia and also brought their "Patrouille de France" jet display team.   The Italian "Il Frecce Tricolori" jet display team also did their thing, including pumping out vast quantities of green, white and red smoke.   The United States had quite a number of aircraft on static display, and flew a B-1 "Lancer" bomber during the show.   The Russians joined the French and the Italians with not one but three separate jet display teams, "Russ" flying L-39s, the "Swifts" flying MiG-29s and the "Russian Knights" flying Su-27s.   The Swifts and the Russian Knights even flew together, something you'll never see the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels doing!

'Swifts' and 'Russian Knights'

Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" 2005   (Willow Run, USA)

The Yankee Air Museum specializes in bringing large numbers of a single aircraft type together at their annual "Thunder Over Michigan" airshow.

In 2005 they achieved their most spectacular gathering yet by bringing 8 of America's 9 flying B-17 Flying Fortresses together in the largest congregation of this type seen since shortly after world war two.

Even without the Flying Fortresses, this year's "Thunder over Michigan" airshow would still have been one of the three best warbirds shows in the United States in 2005.

As well as the usual complement of P-51 Mustangs, a P-40 Warhawk and a B-25 Mitchell, there were rarities like this FJ-4B Fury, a Grumman Duck floatplane, a MiG-17 "Fresco" and a Dornier Alpha jet.

As well as the Flying Fortresses, the display included both of the world's Liberators in flying condition, as well as an F-86 Sabre and three P-47 Thunderbolts, which did a spectacular dogfight with one of the world's last remaining Messerschmitt Bf109E fighters.

Selfridge ANGB 2005   (Michigan, USA)

In 2005 the biannual Selfridge Air National Guard Base airshow outside Detroit was dedicated to the veterans of the Vietnam war.

In keeping with the theme, there was an excellent selection of Vietnam era aircraft on display, including this A-1 Skyraider and OH-6 Cayuse (better known as the Loach), as well as an A-37 Dragonfly, AC-47 "Spooky" gunship, F-4D Phantom II, F-104 Starfighter and a MiG-17 "Fresco".

Other aircraft weren't neglected, with aerobatic planes and this beautiful T-33 Shooting Star painted up an historic color scheme used by the US Air Force "Thunderbirds" jet team.

And to top of each day's show there was a full performance by the US Navy "Blue Angels" jet team.

Selfridge is an active base with aircraft from several branches of the US military, so there were flights by aircraft based here like a flight of F-16 Fighting Falcons, a KC-135 Stratotanker and a C-130 Hercules which performed a cargo drop by parachute.

There were also demonstrations by an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

Wings Over Gillespie 2005   (California, USA)

The Wings Over Gillespie airshow is held each year at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, an outlying suburb of San Diego.   It's one of the few airshows in the United States where you have a good chance to see a high performance MiG-21 "fishbed" jet fighter in action.   The runway here is too short for the MiG to take off or land, so it performs passes while staging out of its home base at the nearby airport of Brown Field.

The show is organized by the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force, so there's always a large contingent of CAF aircraft in attendance from all over southern California.   The folks at Camarillo always provide several world war two planes, like this Mitsubishi Zero and Grumman Bearcat.   The schedule also features aerobatic acts, which in 2005 included Julie Clark doing an extremely low-level routine in her T-34 Mentor.

There's a good lineup of aircraft on static display, including helicopters from local law enforcement and the military, as well as this H-21 Shawnee based at the nearby Ramona airfield.   The Shawnee doesn't fly during the show, but if you stick around afterwards you'll get to see it in the air.

Holloman AFB 2005   (New Mexico, USA)

F-117 Knighthawk 'stealth fighters'

Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico is a long way from anywhere else; the nearest airport with regular flights is El Paso in Texas and from there it's a 90 mile drive up to Alamagordo where the base is located.   Despite these difficulties, aviation enthusiasts come all the way from California, Mexico and even Canada in order to attend the Holloman AFB airshow, a one-day show which isn't even held every year.   They come because of the unusual mixture of aircraft which are based here to take advantage of the large desert bombing ranges in the area.   Holloman is the permanent base for America's fleet of F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighters" and they're a regular participant at the show, flying in formations of up to 4 aircraft, as well as with the T-38 Talons that are used as part of the training for new F-117 pilots.

This is also the home base for a sizeable detachment from the German Air Force.   Although their F-4 Phantom II fighters were withdrawn from Holloman at the end of 2004, they still do training of Tornado fighter/bomber crews here.   The Tornadoes can be seen from time to time on static display at airshows in different places around America, but Holloman is one of the very few places in America where it's possible to see them flying.   Although they're a regular sight for aviation afficianados in Europe, at Holloman it's possible to see them doing maneuvers that you're very unlikely to see anywhere else, such as formation flights and even a simulated buddy refuelling.

German Air Force Tornado fighter/bombers
QF-4 Phantom II and P-38 Lightning

The other star attractions at Holloman are the QF-4 Phantom II drones, whose sad mission is to end their days blown to pieces over the nearby White Sands missile range.   Understandably they're flown by remote control for missile testing, but they're also still capable of being piloted manually.   This year the Air Force top brass decided to paint four of the grey and orange drones in historic color schemes such as the Vietnam war scheme you see here, and they were even made part of the Air Force's "Historic Flight" program, flying with older vintage aircraft such as this P-38 Lightning.

Riverside Air Show 2005   (California, USA)

The airshow held in the suburban community of Riverside near the eastern edge of the Los Angeles basin is a great event considering its small size.   A particular highlight of the 2005 show was one of the very last displays put on by the venerable C-141 Starlifter cargo aircraft.   Starlifters at the nearby March Field were retired only months after this show, and since it was decided to spend money on welcoming the C-17 Globemaster III replacements rather than farewelling the Starlifters, it was nice that one was sent to perform at Riverside, together with one of the KC-135 tankers which are also based at March.

C-141 Starlifter
Rob Harrison's aerobatic act

As usual at American airshows, there were dazzling performances by several of the top professional civilian aerobatics performers including Rob Harrison, Julie Clarke flying her T-28 Trojan rather than her usual T-34 Mentor, John Colver in his T-6 Texan "War Dog" and the Thunder Delfins doing formation flying in their L29 Delfin Soviet jet trainers.   There was also a good turnout of  world war two aircraft, with an F4U Corsair, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat and even one of the local Mitsubishi Zeros all putting on a good show.

For enthusiasts of modern military muscle a two seat F-18D Hornet put on two separate performances during the day, with each pilot getting to show his and her skills, taking off on the very short runway and throwing the plane around the sky before putting it down on the ground again in typically emphatic navy style.

The snowy backdrop provided by Mt San Gorgonio and Mt San Jacinto added interest to many photographs of the aircraft.   Indeed, the excellent lighting conditions and the proximity to the runway make this a very good show for photographers.   An added bonus was the excellent access provided to photograph the many rarely seen aircraft which departed at the end of this one day show.

F-18D Hornet

El Centro 2005   (California, USA)

Heritage Flight, F-16 and two P-51s
It was difficult not to be disappointed by the 2005 El Centro airshow, which had an even smaller lineup of aircraft than the 2004 show.   While there were plenty of small aerobatic aircraft, the military performers were sparser.   Last year's display by an F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" wasn't repeated, leaving the F-16 display as the only military demonstration - though it was certainly a very spirited performance.  As far as warbirds were concerned the F4U Corsair was absent but there were two P-51D Mustangs, both of which flew a Heritage Flight with the F-16.

The C-121 Lockheed Constellation which was one of the stars of last year's show was unable to attend this year because of mechanical problems.   This was a particular shame because this was one of the Constellation's last appearances before permanently departing overseas to end its life on static display at a museum.

However a classic four-engined airliner was on hand to step into the Constellation's shoes and add some spice to the show - a Douglas DC-7 which has been converted into a fire bomber.

F-14 Tomcat
Blue Angel's echelon pass

The show organizers know that they can always count on having at least one star performance, since El Centro is the winter training area for the United States Navy "Blue Angels" display team.

The El Centro airshow is always the first display of the year for the team and in 2005 they put on an excellent display, with even tighter formation flying than last year.

Yuma Air Show 2005   (Arizona, USA)

The annual one-day airshow at the marine corps air station in Yuma is a relaxed affair held early in the year with a fairly small line-up of flying aircraft.   This is definitely not a show for warbirds enthusiasts, you're likely to go away empty handed if you come expecting to see P-51 Mustangs or other retired fighter aircraft.   What you will see is displays by current members of the American military arsenal, such as this air force F-16 Fighting Falcon and an up-close demonstration by a marine corps AV-8B Harrier jump jet.

F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-15 Eagle taking off

The Yuma airshow is just over the state line from California, so it's an easy hop for people living in San Diego or other parts of southern California, as well as for snowbirds from northern states taking advantage of Arizona's mild winter climate.   Unlike other shows, there's plenty of space for the crowd, so you're guaranteed a good seat for the show regardless of what time you arrive.  For keen photographers it's also a good show, because the light is behind you all day.

The flying display at Yuma might not be first-tier, but the static display of aircraft is absolutely first rate, on a par with many of the better-known and much larger shows.   There are always exotic aircraft such as this German Air Force Tornado fighter/bomber, as well as five or six different types of military helicopter, with various delights for aviation enthusiasts, such as some of the less flashy but rarely seen American aircraft like the F-5 Freedom Fighter and S-3 Viking submarine hunter, and other specialized aircraft like AWACS planes and aerial refuelling tankers.
C-45 Commando world war two transport aircraft

Nellis 2004   (Nevada, USA)

The Aviation Nation airshow at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas was my first opportunity to see the F-22 Raptor, latest addition to the Air Force inventory.   Although the display was extremely tame, consisting almost entirely of high flat passes,  the afterburner takeoffs were certainly entertaining - and loud - and I was even able to get this banking shot on media day from the top of a Russian tank at the Nellis Threat Training Facility, some distance from the airshow area.

This might have been one of the Raptor's first displays, but it was also the last official public display of the venerable F-14 Tomcat.

Although it's hard to believe that such a quintessential navy aircraft would do its final display at an air force show, the reality is that only a few squadrons still fly this type of aircraft, and they will all soon transition over to the Tomcat's successor, the F-18 Hornet. 

F-14 Tomcat

Nellis is home base for the Thunderbirds, and their end of year Homecoming Display seemed much more spirited than usual, with lots of afterburner and some thrilling fast passes.   It was a great end to an excellent show which featured several interesting aircraft apart from the Raptor and Tomcat - a Hispano Buchon (the Spanish post-war version of the Messerschmitt Bf109), a Fairey Firefly, Ross Perot junior's T-38 Talon painted in the Thunderbirds color scheme, the Reno Air Racers and an incredible Pave Hawk helicopter performance.

Jacqueline Cochran Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

This was the first ever airshow held at the Jacqueline Cochran Airport, newly renamed in honor of one of America's pioneering aviators.   Cochran not only commanded the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) ferrying fighters and bombers during world war two, but she also set many flying records in her own right, including being the first woman to break the sound barrier, and the first to fly at twice the speed of sound.   It's said that she held more aviation records than any other man or woman in history.

OV-10 Bronco and UH-1 Huey firefighting display
T-39 Sabreliner and L39 Albatros in formation

This fairly small show had a number of flying displays which distinguished it from large shows.   One of these was a mass parachute drop from a pair of Twin Otters; an excellent fire-fighting display by local units operating a UH-1 Huey helicopter, OV-10 Bronco and an S-2 Tracker; and a T-39 Sabreliner military transport owned by the same California businessman who sponsors the Patriots civilian jet display team, whose L39 Albatroses flew in formation with the Sabreliner.

A number of other excellent aerobatic acts performed at this one-day show, including a team of T-34 Mentors, another civilian jet display team flying L29 Delfins, a biplane wing-walking act and various others.   Sadly, the Palm Springs Air Museum P-63 Kingcobra  which was on static display didn't fly, but those patient souls who waited until the show had finished were rewarded by parting flybys by a P-51 Mustang, an A-26 Invader and this rare C-46 Commando.

C-45 Commando world war two transport aircraft

Vandenburg Air Force Base Airshow 2004   (California, USA)

P-40 Warhawk

Vandenburg Air Force Base on the California coast an hour or so north of Los Angeles is one of America's main missile test sites.Though there have been cancellations in recent years, in 2004 they again held an airshow at the base.   It's not one of the larger shows in the area, and visitor numbers aren't as great as for other shows, perhaps in part because they do such a poor job of letting people know what will be at the show.

Still, there are some worthwhile displays here, with modern military aircraft like an F-18 Hornet, F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II, along with world war two aircraft like an F8F Bearcat, P-40 Warhawk, an authentic Japanese Zero (though powered with an American engine) and a replica world war two Russian Yak 9u fighter.   Crowd pleasing displays were done by the F-18 and F8F flying together, and by the F-16 and A-10 flying in formation with a pair of P-51 Mustang fighters.   For diehard enthusiasts like myself there are delights like this world war two T-6 Texan trainer flying with its modern counterpart and namesake, the T-6A Texan II.

T-6 Texan and T-6A Texan II trainers
Tornado strike aircraft cockpit

As at so many shows, many of the most interesting aircraft are on static display, and they're also some of the highlights of the show.   This year there were various helicopters, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, transports old and new like the C-46 Commando and the C-17 Globemaster III, the oldest F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" in existence, and an E-3 Sentry AWACS plane with a 30 foot diameter rotating radar on its roof.  There was even a German Air Force Tornado fighter/bomber whose cockpit you could climb into and sit in, if you fancied yourself as a fighter pilot!

Miramar Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

This year's Miramar air show mostly took place under low, thick grey cloud, which caused the cancellation of a number of displays and made the whole show fairly unsuitable for photography.   However Miramar's signature Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) display went ahead with a simulated helicopter and tank assault involving Super Cobra helicopter gunships, CH-46 Sea Knight troop carriers and the heavy lift CH-53 Sea Stallion which brought a large howitzer into the display area.

AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopter with the Wall of Fire
Shockwave jet powered truck 'racing' the Red Bull MiG 17

The show also included a number of novelty items, including John Helton landing his Piper Cub on "The World's Smallest Aircraft Carrier", actually a Chevy van with a special rack fitted on the roof, which was driven down the runway as he landed and then took off.   The most popular of these acts was the Shock Wave Jet Truck, which uses three jet engines to reach speeds of up to 376 miles per hour.   All this power was pitted in a race against the Red Bull MiG-17.

Other military displays included an AV-8B Harrier and an F-16 Fighting Falcon, which proved that all of the bad weather at least had the benefit of creating a few good vapor bursts.   The Blue Angels were confined by the cloud to their low show, but also generated lots of vapor, and even gave the unusual spectacle after one performance of an aircraft carrier type of arrested landing by one of the planes which had developed mechanical trouble.

Blue Angel doing an arrested landing

Kern County Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

Israeli Kfir fighter jet

Just four days after making a 600 mile round trip to see a StarFighter which didn't turn up, I again hit the road, driving 380 miles with the sole aim of seeing one of the US Navy's EA-6B Prowler aircraft do a display.   Alas, again the plane of my dreams didn't turn up, however there were other unusual aircraft to make up for its absence, such as this Israeli Aircraft Industries Mach 2.3 capable "Kfir" fighter jet, based on the French Dassault Mirage 3, which flew an hour or more before the start of the show.

This was my twenty-third airshow in the United States, but only the second one at which I'd seen a B-52 Stratofortress flying.   This massive bomber is often on static display at shows, but the only other time I'd ever seen one do an aerial display was in the UK, where one took off, did flypasts and then landed using a parachute to slow down.   At the Kern County airshow the B-52 did two passes, first with its undercarriage down and then with its bomb bay doors open.
B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber
AH-64 Apache attack helicopter

This was one show where it certainly paid off to arrive early and leave late.   The Kfir and a T-33 Shooting Star flew before the show, and then half an hour after the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds jet display team had finished their impressive routine, the crew of this British Apache LongBow attack helicopter decided that they were going to do a little display of their own, whether or not they were invited to or authorized to!  I guess that's the sort of bravado that naturally happens when your Commanding Officer is 6000 miles away!

Prescott Air Fair 2004   (Arizona, USA)

After an absence of 15 years, a one-day airshow in Prescott, Arizona was arranged by local enthusiasts.   Perhaps reflecting a certain rustiness of organizational skills, they omitted to tell anyone what aircraft would be flying, apart from a few aerobatic planes and the rarely-seen high performance Cold War F-104 Starfighter jet.

Armed with this lack of knowledge, I made the nearly 600 mile (960 kilometer) round trip from southern California in the hope of seeing this one aircraft, but it was not to be - the Starfighter wasn't able to come because of mechanical problems.

Fortunately, though, a small bevy of other interesting historical aircraft turned out, and the star of the show turned out to be this Sea Fury carrier fighter in Royal Australian Navy colors, which took turns flying in spectacular formations with an F-18E Super Hornet, a Spitfire, and then with the Spitfire and a T-28 Trojan trainer.

Other aircraft were also on hand to round out the show, including this C-130 Hercules firefighter (the oldest C-130 still flying anywhere in the world), a C-47 Dakota which provided rides throughout the show, a few AV-8B Harriers which did their most interesting display after the end of the show proper, and more of those loaded American civilian enthusiasts flying trainers like the American T-6 Texan, Chinese Nanchang and Czechoslovakian L-39 Albatros.

Point Mugu Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

E2C Hawkeye naval airborne early warning radar plane

The airshow at the Point Mugu naval airbase on the coast just north of Los Angeles isn't really a top tier show, because of its limited range of aircraft and long gaps in the schedule of events.   However it presents an opportunity  to see some of the less commonly displayed military aircraft, like this E-2C Hawkeye, which is a carrier-borne early warning radar plane.

No, this F-18F Super Hornet isn't going supersonic!   Since it's right by the ocean, there can be a lot of humidity here, and several of the aircraft at the show were pulling considerable amounts of water vapor out of the air as they flew past at high sub-sonic speeds.

These vapor bursts often last only fractions of a second, so getting a photo of one can be a combination of skill and luck.

F-18F pulling a vapor cone
Patriots L-39 Albatros jet team with the Wall of Fire

Even though it's close to a major urban center, the show wasn't  unpleasantly crowded, probably because neither of the main military jet display teams were present.   However, this gave an opportunity to highlight some less well-known acts, such as the Hawkeye, a C-130J Hercules and the civilian owned Patriots jet team with their Czechoslovakian built L-39 Albatros jets, a very attractive Soviet era trainer which is now popular with American enthusiasts who have some cash jingling in their pockets.

Chino Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

Every year the Planes of Fame Air Museum at Chino near Los Angeles hosts one of America's premier airshows for vintage warbirds.   For those interested in classic military aircraft, this is a much better venue than the larger but less specialized Oshkosh airshow.

For 2004, the Chino airshow turned on a brilliant display of American naval aircraft of virtually every type, from FM-2 Wildcats to an F4U Corsair, an F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercats, F8F Bearcats, TBM Avenger torpedo bombers and a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber.

As well as all of the well-known classics, there are other much rarer aircraft on display here, such as this Northrop N9MB flying wing, developed during world war two as a one-third scale proof of concept aircraft, and a trainer for Northrop's giant flying wing bombers of the late 1940s, the XB-35 and XB-49.   There are other rare aircraft here also, such as the world's only flying Mitsubishi Zero with an original Sakae engine, and a German Fieseler Storch army utility aircraft which didn't fly during the show, but did many circuits immediately after the show had officially ended.

Along with the Japanese and German planes, there were also far more British aircraft on display here than at any other American show I've attended.   In addition to this Mark XIX Spitfire with a Griffon engine and contra-rotating propellers from a Shackleton maritime patrol aircraft, there was also a Mark IX Spitfire paired with a Hurricane, a Fairey Firefly carrier fighter and a training version of the Sea Fury naval fighter.

March Field Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

March Field in southern California is one of America's most historic military air bases.   Although it's now a reserve base it's still worth visiting for the large collection of Cold War aircraft in its museum, and for the March Field airshow which is held here on an irregular basis.

This year's show included a look at Robosaurus, America's latest weapon in the War Against Boredom, as he roared, tore cars to pieces and incinerated them.

Nowadays you might end up seeing Cold War aircraft from the other side, such as these Czechoslovakian L-29 Delfin jet trainers, or the Red Bull MiG 17 which did a brilliant aerobatic display in its bright red advertising paint scheme.

Dinosaurs and soviet training jets aside, here are a couple of the more usual inhabitants of March Field, a KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refuelling tanker and a C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft.

After doing a close-in flypast, the Starlifter returned to do an airdrop of containers onto the field.

El Centro Air Show 2004   (California, USA)

The El Centro naval air station in southern California hosts the annual El Centro air show in early spring.

It's not a huge show, but still well worth making an effort to get there, since its desert location bodes well for good lighting.

They do have good displays, and the uncrowded schedule gives time for the performers to put their aircraft through their paces, more so than at larger shows. 

El Centro is the winter base for the Navy Blue Angels display team, which explains why there are four different aircraft types on display just inside the main gate, all painted in Blue Angels colors.   It's fitting, then, that this year's new Blue Angels team would give one of their first displays for the year at this show.   They're not flying as tightly as they will later in the year, but it's still a good performance!

As well as the Blue Angels and numerous displays by small aerobatic aircraft, the navy Leap Frogs skydiving team jumped out of a coast guard C-130 Hercules, an F4U Corsair did simulated bombing and strafing runs with pyrotechnics, an F-117 stealth fighter did two quick passes, and an F-16 Fighting Falcon did a solo display before teaming up with a world war two P-51 Mustang in an air force "Heritage Flight".

Yuma Air Show 2004   (Arizona, USA)

AV-8B 'Harrier'

The airshow at Yuma is fairly small and could be much better organized - it took an hour and a half of queueing in a line of traffic several miles long before we reached the parking lots.   The show's website also seemed a lot more interested in getting sponsorship dollars than in giving information about the show.   Leaving the show was tricky, with the road we came down on closed and an unmarked detour right around the large airfield.

Despite the clear weather, several of the main attractions were no shows, like the F-117 stealth fighter and the "attack helicopters".

However, this A-10 Thunderbolt and the AV-8B Harrier both put on good solo displays, and there was an excellent collection of static aircraft, including a German Tornado fighter/bomber and an A-6 Intruder.

A-10 Thunderbolt II  ('warthog')
UH-1 'Huey'

There was a serious lapse in taste when the crew of this marine corps threw a dummy out of helicopter before doing a rescue demonstration.   I and many others thought we'd just seen a crewman fall to his death, and the air show commentator didn't let us in on this so-called "joke" until about a minute afterwards.   I'm not sure what sort of an impression that left on the hundreds of young children at the show.

Chicago Air and Water Show 2003   (Illinois, USA)

This year's audience of 2.2 million spectators knew exactly what they wanted from the Chicago air show - noise, and lots of it, from the American armed forces' most modern fighting equipment, like these F-15 Eagles, assembled in a rare formation display.

F15 Eagles in formation
F16 Fighting Falcon pulling vapor with afterburner

If the thought of rubbing shoulders with 2,199,999 other people doesn't immediately appeal, then maybe you'll also baulk at the thought of sitting around for five hours in the heat and humidity of a Chicago summer.   However, there's a lot of carnival atmosphere with a crowd that big, all those people are spread over a great length of Lake Michigan shoreline, the breeze off the lake moderates the worst of the heat, the humidity makes for some spectacular vapor trails coming off the planes, and the close proximity of downtown Chicago's skyscrapers makes this a show like no other.

And if these A-10 Thunderbolt tank busters looked slightly out of place over the wet expanse of Lake Michigan, then very few people noticed or cared.   The formations of F-14s, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, the mighty C-5 Galaxy and B-52 Stratofortress and the Thunderbirds display team all represented these Chicagoan's hard earned tax dollars at work and, by golly, they were going to get their money's worth and enjoy them!

four A10 Thunderbolts in formation

Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" 2003   (Michigan, USA)

P39 Airacobra

As with some of the other shows this year, the Yankee Air Museum airshow, held near Detroit, turned up quite a few aircraft which are rarely seen out on the airshow circuit, like this American P-39 Airacobra fighter from world war two, together with a MiG-17 Fresco which did a display complete with afterburner.

I hadn't seen either a P-39 or a MiG-17, so they were a very welcome sight, and good displays by a P-38 Lightning and this Helldiver against Saturday's bright blue sky meant that I was able to get better photos of these aircraft than was possible at Dayton a few weeks earlier.   Since it's a smaller show, the fliers also have more latitude to display their aircraft to good advantage than at a show like Oshkosh.

B17 Flying Fortress 'Sentimental Journey'

Continuing in its tradition of having large numbers of particular aircraft types at the show, this year there were no fewer than five B-17 Flying Fortresses at the show, in addition to the Collings Foundation B-24 Liberator and the Lancaster bomber from Canada which was unable to come to last year's show.   Once again the no-shows like the spitfire, hurricane, Bf109 and Yak 3 punched big holes in the published schedule, but the quality of the remaining aircraft combined with the good display conditions made this a very worthwhile show.

Oshkosh AirVenture 2003   (Wisconsin, USA)

Once again, the Oshkosh AirVenture airshow in Wisconsin earned its place as the premier show in the world for home aircraft builders, private aircraft owners and those who appreciate aerobatic displays.   There are many weird and wonderful aircraft here, such as this "Mosquito" ultra-light helicopter, which is pure functionality with no pretense of form.

'Mosquito' ultralight helicopter
Polikarpov I16 fighter

Warbird enthusiasts, however, should think carefully before deciding whether to come to this event.   If you want to see a military display team like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds then you'll be totally out of luck; you'll also be disappointed if your interests lie in modern military aircraft - though you'll probably see one display, perhaps by a Harrier jump jet or an F-15.   It's a little better for classic warbird lovers, since there are certain to be P-51 Mustangs, and a few bombers like B-25 Mitchells and B-17 Flying Fortresses.   There's often also one or two rare treats, like this Russian Polikarpov I16 fighter, and a United States Navy Fury jet fighter from the 1950s.

This year, however, the warbird crowd was treated with special contempt by the airshow organizers.   Not only was there no list on the large AirVenture website of the aircraft which were expected to attend, but after having to endure interminable commercial aircraft displays which amounted to nothing more than sales pitches, the entire "extended warbirds airshow" on Sunday was dropped without ceremony or even announcement and replaced with two Reno Air Racers doing simulated strafing and bombing runs on the airfield.

T33, Fury and F86 Sabre jets

Dayton 2003   (Ohio, USA)

Snowbirds head-on pass

Dayton was the home of Orville and Wilbur Wright, so the good folks of Ohio decided they should put on a first class show for the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.   They succeeded admirably, with many good acts appearing at the Dayton Airshow 2003, including for the first time ever at an air show, all three North American military jet display teams - the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds and the Canadian air force Snowbirds.

In keeping with the historic nature of the airshow, many vintage aircraft were flown, including a 1911 Wright Flyer, an authentic Bleriot monoplane with the same design as the plane which first crossed the English channel; world war one fighters like a Fokker DR1, a Fokker Triplane, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A and a very aerobatic Swedish Tummelisa; and historic airliners like a Ford TriMotor, a DC-3 in Delta air lines livery, and John Travolta's Boeing 707 in Qantas colors.

Swedish Tummelisa and German Fokker DR I
P38 Lightnings Porky II and Glacier Girl

This airshow was made extraordinarily good by the presence of a large number of rarely seen aircraft - a B-24 Liberator, two P-38 Lightnings, a Curtiss Helldiver, S-3 Vikings, a U-2 spy plane and three Vietnam era helicopters - the Huey, Loach and Cobra gunship.

Indianapolis Air Show 2002   (Indiana, USA)

The 2002 Indianapolis Air Show was billed as The Gathering of Corsairs, with over 20 World War Two F-4U Corsairs expected to arrive, together with pilots from the original Black Sheep Squadron which flew these aircraft in the Solomon Islands, as well as actors from the 1970s TV series which purported to show their exploits.

three Corsairs
two Corsairs

Unfortunately, in the end only 7 Corsairs showed up, but there were still lots of opportunities to get good photographs of the planes which did fly.

There were also plenty of other interesting aircraft present, including a B-26 light bomber, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly ground attack jet from the Vietnam War, C-123 Provider as well as modern aircraft like the AV-8B Harrier, A-10 Warthog, F-16 Fighting Falcon and this F-18 Hornet.

F18 Hornet

Chicago Air and Water Show 2002   (Illinois, USA)

KC135 aerial refuelling tanker

The Chicago airshow brings out a lot of the Heavy Metal of the United States military, like this KC-135 aerial refueling tanker, a Golden Oldie which even today is the mainstay of the American tanker fleet despite being basically a 1950s design.

However the real heavy of the United States Air Force is the C-5 Galaxy, the largest cargo aircraft in the Western arsenal, and surpassed in the world fleet only by the Russian Antonov cargo planes the An124 and its big brother the An225, which amazingly can carry twice the weight of the Galaxy.

C5 Galaxy cargo plane
F14 Tomcat navy carrier fighter

Unwilling to let the Air Force have things all their own way, the Navy and Marines showed off the F-14 Tomcat fighter and the F-18 Hornets of the Blue Angels display team, the Army jumped out of planes and pointed the sharp ends of their Apache helicopters at a highly appreciative audience, and even the Coast Guard had a helicopter on display, though it was noticeably lacking in sharp bits.

Yankee Air Museum "Thunder Over Michigan" 2002   (Michigan, USA)

This must be the unluckiest airshow in America this year.   A taxying accident put its star attraction, the Canadian Lancaster bomber, out of action.   Then during the Sunday show both Corsairs had to withdraw with mechanical problems, after starting their engines ready for takeoff.   Approaching bad weather forced a number of aircraft to leave early, and for reasons which are unknown to me, the Russian Yak 3, Yak 9 and Mig 17 fighters didn't fly.   And only one of the promised flybys by modern military aircraft happened, a single half-hearted pass by an F-18 Hornet.

P47 Thunderbolt
DeHavilland Venom

However, this De Havilland Venom fighter plane, now retired from the Swiss Air Force, did appear, although it wasn't in the original list of planes flying at the show.   There were also six B-25 Mitchell bombers, more than I've seen at any other show.

And the fortuitous layout of the historic Willow Run airfield forces the fliers to bank steeply as they passed, resulting in an unusually high number of good photographs, despite the relatively small number of planes which flew.

B25 Mitchell bomber banking steeply

Elkhart 2002   (Indiana, USA)

B24 Liberator on static display

Elkhart in Indiana is the Little Airshow That Could.   Although located very near its larger neighbor South Bend, little Elkhart insists on having its own airshow, which is run in direct opposition to South Bend's.   Though truth to tell, the only reason I came to Elkhart was the promise of seeing in the air one of only two B-24 Liberator bombers in the world which are still flown.

Unfortunately, the B-24 stayed on the tarmac with supercharger problems, so entertainment ended up being provided by aircraft like this F-117 Stealth Fighter, which is a fairly regular performer at American airshows.

F117 stealth fighter
A10 and P51 'Heritage Flight'

The highlight of the show was probably the solo demonstration by an A-10 Warthog, which was then paired with a world war two P-51 Mustang in one of the United States Air Force's continuing series of Heritage Flights.

Oshkosh AirVenture 2002   (Wisconsin, USA)

The Oshkosh airshow is the realm of small plane owners and home plane builders.

There are plenty of strange looking home-built aircraft, including this Aerocar, which can not only fly, but with wings folded back can also be driven on the road!

'Aerocar' flying car
Dick Rutan's rocket-powered plane

True to their American designation as "experimental" aircraft, Oshkosh is also a stomping ground for civilian aircraft designers like Burt Rutan, producer of the Long-EZ kitset plane which XCOR converted to rocket power and demonstrated at the show.   This is intended as an initial step towards claiming a $10 million prize which will be awarded to the first group not sponsored by a national government which can launch two manned flights into space within a two week period.

Warbird enthusiasts are definitely in the back seat at this airshow, whether they're of the modern "turn and burn" or of the "classics" variety.   There is a warbird display, but at 55 minutes it's definitely at the short end of the spectrum.

Nevertheless, there are a good number of world war two and later planes, and this year an interesting rarity - a British Fairey Firefly two-man carrier based fighter plane.

Firefly carrier-based fighter plane

Royal International Air Tattoo 2002   (Fairford, UK)

Dutch Air Force 'Teamwork' F16 dropping flares

As well as the largest warbirds show in Europe, England is also said to have the largest military airshow in the world, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT).   International is truly the operative word, with military aerobatic display teams from England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Chile and Jordan.   Although it's largely a showcase of modern military aircraft, there are also plenty of historic types such as the P-51 Mustang, Spitfire and Avro Lancaster bomber.

Individual demonstrations are also given by military aircraft from various parts of the world.   Although the Ukrainian Su-27 fighter and Tu-22 bomber which were scheduled weren't able to make it, the Americans sent F-15 and F-16 fighters, as well as B-1, B-2, F-117 and B-52 bombers.   This was the first time I've seen a B-52 flying, something which isn't common even at American airshows.   The Europeans put their Jaguars, Tornadoes, Mirages and Nimrod through their paces, and there was even a New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion and 727 on static display!

Royal Air Force Nimrod marine patrol aircraft
Italian Air Force G222 nosewheel accident This is the first airshow I've attended where there's been an accident - an Italian G222 cargo plane suffered a collapsed nosewheel after a botched landing, and skidded several hundred meters down the runway.   The tire on the nosewheel caught fire, smoke poured out, fire engines and rescue personnel rushed out.  Since I was doing official photography for the show, my press pass gave me a front-row seat to capture this event.

Duxford Flying Legends 2002   (Cambridgeshire, UK)

Billed as the greatest warbird event in Europe, the Flying Legends airshow held at Duxford, near Cambridge, England, is definitely a great show for lovers of classic warbirds, with piston-powered planes from as far afield as Europe and the United States.

At times, it seems that there isn't enough space in the sky for all of them to fly at once!

Kittyhawk, Corsair, Spitfire and Mustang flying in formation
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster bomber

Here you'll see many British world war two planes which don't appear at American airshows, like this Lancaster heavy bomber, one of only two flying in the world, as well as the only Blenheim light bomber still flying.

Along with scads of Spitfires and Mustangs, you'll also see Hurricanes, the only airworthy F7F Tigercat in the UK and the only A-36 Apache (also known as the Invader), the dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang.   There are also rarities like a German contingent consisting of a Ju52 transport plane, Messerschmitt Me108 and Buecker Juengmeister, and British Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Nimrod biplane fighters.
Bristol Blenheim and Lysander

Indianapolis 2001   (Indiana, USA)

PV-2 Harpoon banking sharply

Although I'd seen it on static display at several airshows, this is the first opportunity I had to see the PV-2 Harpoon in action, a rarely seen American World War Two maritime patrol aircraft derived from the same airframe as the Lockheed Electra airliner, the Ventura and the Lodestar light bomber.

Coming up to the modern day, a United States Air Force A-10 Warthog display team put their aircraft through its impressive routines.

A10 Warthog
two F104 Starfighters flying in tight formation

However the thing which made me drive four and a half hours each way was the show put on by a pair of civilian owned F-104 Starfighters, a 1950s fighter which earned the nickname The Missile With a Man In It.

Chicago Air and Water Show 2001   (Illinois, USA)

The Chicago airshow has a flavor like no other, with Lake Michigan and the downtown buildings providing a distinctive backdrop to a show which can draw an audience of well over a million people.

apache helicopters flying toward North Beach
two B1s banking together

Unlike many of the other airshows I attend, the emphasis here is definitely on modern aircraft in the American arsenal, often with several flying together in formation, like these B-1 bombers.

This show was my first opportunity to see the United States Air Force display team, the Thunderbirds, flying their F-16 Falcons.

The Thunderbirds alternate year by year with the Blue Angels, the United States Navy and Marine Corps display team, who fly F-18 Hornets.

lead solo Thunderbirds breaking away from group in front of John Hancock building

Oshkosh AirVenture 2001   (Wisconsin, USA)


American airshows aren't particularly noted for displays of foreign warbirds, but 2001 must have been British Year at the Oshkosh Airshow.

Not only was there a replica of a World War One Vickers Vimy bomber flying, there were three Spitfires doing demonstrations.

The sleek and powerful Sea Fury was also present in two different versions, one painted up in British naval colors, and another as a racer in a four plane competition like those held annually in Reno, Nevada.

Sea Fury
Sea Venom banking with smoke trail

However the biggest treat for me was the Sea Venom jet, a very early post-war aircraft derived from the same Vampire jet flown by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Frederick 2000   (Maryland, USA)

The Frederick airshow was my last of the season and certainly the best, with planes to make any aircraft enthusiast slobber with excitement, like this B-2 Stealth Bomber...

B2 bomber banking left
authentic Heinkel He111 bomber

...this rare and authentic Heinkel bomber from World War 2, previously used as Spanish dictator Franco's personal transport...

...and a host of other authentic delights, as well as replicas such as Japanese Kate and Val torpedo bombers, doing a mock attack on Pearl Harbor.

replica Kate bomber carrying torpedo

Wilkes-Barre Air Show 2000   (Pennsylvania, USA)

looking along the top of a C5 Galaxy from the ditching hatch

The Wilkes-Barre airport in Pennsylvania is home to the annual Wilkes-Barre airshow, with interesting equipment on static display...

... and those boring old Blue Angels up in the air...

Blue Angel F18 at high rate of attack immediately after takeoff
Blue Angels C130 support plane doing a rocket assisted takeoff

... man, even their support plane gets in on the act!

Oshkosh Air Venture Airshow 1999   (Wisconsin, USA)

Oshkosh is a small town in Wisconsin near Lake Winnebago.

It's also home for the Experimental Aircraft Association, the EAA Museum and the largest airshow in America.

Burt Rutan's experimental 'Proteus' jet aircraft
Sabrejet and Mig 15

At Oshkosh you'll find not just experimental aircraft, but also warbirds from World War 2, Korea and Vietnam, aerial acrobatic displays, and performances by modern jets.

Now, I'm usually no great fan of aerobatics, but I did shoot off several rolls of films at this show.

It's hard not to, when you're watching a wing-walking routine on a 1930s biplane whose propeller engine is supplemented with a jet!

Wing walker on jet powered biplane

Andrews Airforce Base Airshow 1998   (Maryland, USA)

Blue Angels navy display team

Andrew's Air Force base in Maryland is the home of Air Force One, the President's personal transport.

This was my first American air show, and I got to see the Blue Angels display team... well as examples of modern American military hardware, like the Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcons and B-1B bomber...

B1 bomber taking off
F14 Tomcat

...and the navy's F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets!

Townsville Royal Australian Air Force Airshow   (Townsville, Australia)

The United States Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force were the only military services anywhere in the world to operate the F-111 Aardvark, and now only Australia has any in service.

The Aardvark is famous for its "zippo" party trick, which involves dumping fuel into the exhaust to produce a flame 40 meters or more long.

F111 dumping fuel into exhaust
C130 Hercules flying with loadmaster at open ramp

For some reason, since coming to the United States I've worked with an improbable number of ex USAF loadmasters.

What's a loadmaster?   It's one of these guys in the photo at the right, pushing stuff out the open ramp of a Hercules.

Here's a World War Two allied fighter you've almost certainly never heard of - an Australian designed and built Boomerang.

Australian world war two Boomerang fighter

Royal New Zealand Air Force   (Wigram, New Zealand)

P3 Orion maritime surveillance plane

New Zealand is surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean, and its exclusive economic zone is one of the world's largest, so it's only natural that the Royal New Zealand Air Force emphasizes maritime surveillance by aircraft such as this P-3 Orion.

Transport aircraft such as this C-130 Hercules are New Zealand's main contribution when international disaster relief or peacekeeping operations are undertaken.

C130 Hercules banking very sharply immediately after takeoff.
A4 Skyhawk diving and dropping flares

You'll also see New Zealand's top of the line attack aircraft, the A-4 Skyhawk, a plane which first flew in 1952!  But with no close neighbors, who is New Zealand going to attack anyway, Australia?

Hey... there's an interesting idea!

Christchurch Airport Open Day   (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Why would anyone be interested in an open day at the civilian airport of a small city tucked away at the tail end of the Pacific?

Well, let's count the reasons:  (1)  the Nasa ER-2, the civilian version of the famous U-2 spy plane, here to do research on the ozone hole...

NASA ER2 spy plane
C5 Galaxy transport plane

(2)  America's massive C-5 Galaxy transport plane, based here on its trips to and from the American bases in Antarctica...

(3)  British and French Concordes, stopping off for a day or two on round-the-world charter flights for the benefit of the planet's ultimate jet-setters!


Wanaka Warbirds   (Wanaka, New Zealand)

Messerschmitt Bf 109G

The Wanaka Warbirds airshow is held every two years in the scenic southern lakes region of New Zealand, an area surrounded by snow-covered mountains.

For such a small country there's a surprising variety of aircraft, with a good selection of the classic American and British aircraft flown by New Zealanders during the World War Two:   P-51 Mustangs, a P-40 Kittyhawk (called a Warhawk in the States),  F-4 Corsair, a Grumman Avenger, Catalina flying boat, and Spitfires.

Mark XIV spitfire
Russian Yak 3 WW 2 fighter

There are also some rarely seen aircraft of other combatants, with a German Messerschmitt Me108 and a Bf109, a Japanese Zero replica as well as the only authentic Oscar fighter in the world in flying condition, and Russian aircraft like the Yak-3 and Antonov An-2 "Colt".   Finally, there are also a few Vietnam era aircraft like a dragonfly and a Trojan.