MILAVIA > Air Shows > Air Force Week 07: New England Last updated: 27 July 2011
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Air Show Report : Air Force Week 07: New England

Air Force Week 07: New England

Air Force Week 07 celebrated the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force in August. Dave O'Brien (Top Gun Photography) reports on the Air Force Week events in New England.

Air Force Week: New England Style

Pease, Aug 18/19

New England was one of the six sites to open up air force week; which celebrates the Air Force’s 60th Anniversary. The first stop was the former SAC Air Force Base, Pease, which is now called Portsmouth International airport at Pease. It was the first air show at Pease since 2000. The show was put on with the help of NH Wings of Hope Foundation and the 157th ARW of the NH ANG.

The acts they pulled in were John Klatt in his S-300, local favorite Rob Holland, Carol Pilon wing walker, Dan McCue in the L-39 & F4U Corsair, the East Coast F-18C Demo team from NAS Oceana, Ed Shipley and his F-86 Sabre and the East Coast F-16 team from Shaw AFB. We also had a B-2 perform a fly-by on Saturday.

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The flying did not start till 11.00 AM and with some technical difficulties with the sound system and then it being too windy for the opening jump the announcer had a difficult time starting the show. It also did not help having the announcer’s booth at the back of the ramp as he had a very difficult time seeing what was coming in.

A CH-146 performed an air demo, then Rob Holland took to the skies. The way he rips his MX-2 through the sky would make my stomach turn so quick. When Rob was finished they launched the warbirds: P-40, P-47 and a B-25. Dan McCue went up in the L-39 followed by the Red Star Formation Yak team.

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Once they were down, the B-2A (Death 12) came in for a few passes before Rob Holland took the controls for Carol Pilon while she somehow hung on in the strong winds while walking around the wings of her plane. Dan McCue then jumped into the F4U Corsair and did his demo while local Naval Aviator Lt Thomas “Natty” Clark from Nashua took the F-18C demo up to rip up the skies. Afterwards Dan and Natty hooked up for the Legacy flight that is a few photo passes from the right and then one overhead from the back.

Once each of them had landed, it was time for Ed Shipley to take up the F-86 Sabre to perform for the crowds. Once the solo F-16 demo was done, he formed up with Ed for the Heritage Flight; this was the big closer for the show.

Overall it was a pretty decent show, seeing they have not had one in seven years.

Otis, Aug 25/26

The following weekend was the closing of Air Force week with a show two hours away at Otis ANGB in Cape Cod, MA. Otis was granted the USAF Thunderbirds, which is always a nice draw. Other acts scheduled were the US Army Golden Knights, USCG Search and Rescue demo, Michael Goulian in his Extra 300 and Michael Mancuso in his Extra 300. The Under Pressure Jet Ambulance, S-3 Demo team, C-17 Demo, B-2 fly-by, Ed Hamill, CF-18 demo flown by Crank, along with John Klatt, the West Coast F-16 Demo and visit from the East Coast F-18 demo flown by Lt. Adrian “Catfish” Jope, F-117 demo and the 102nd FW F-15 formation.

Again weather played havoc with the air show, this time it was haze and fog in the morning and wind in the afternoon. Temps were in the high 90's °F (30's °C) and it was very humid. Some of the Saturday morning acts could not even go up because of the haze. I was lucky to go on Sunday, as it was my only viewing of the S-3 demo performance, which is flown as a two-ship.

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The USCG demo was showing how they put a tactical team on a boat if need be repealing from a Jayhawk. A Falcon was flying around showing how it would search for boats in trouble and dropped a raft on target. Next up was the Mass Army National Guard Blackhawks. Two of them were carrying Humvees while the other two had troops repeal down ropes.

The 102nd FW launched four Eagles to burn up the sky but were not allowed to on Saturday, but really put it into full burner on Sunday. You could tell they were itching to show off to the hometown. A B-2 flew in on his first pass with gear down, and came back around again low and did a slight waggle of the wings. It was a much nicer pass than we had at Pease as you finally get to see the top of the aircraft instead of only seeing the bottom.

After the B-2 departed they brought the Eagles and the F-117 in. Both were allowed to perform full demos on Sunday as the weather helped out more with higher ceilings. Ed Hamill was next in the show box in his Air Force Reserve bi-plane. I had not seen the C-17 demo in a long time and I was amazed how this aircraft almost handles like a fighter, the pilots turned a 360 almost as tight as some of the fighters performing their 360s.

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Crank took up his CF-18 with the specially painted tails celebrating Canada’s 25 years using the CF-18. Next the West Coast Viper team took up their F-16 to show how the “left coasters” fly for us “Yankees”. This was a great chance to see a team you normally do not get to see on the east coast. Michael Mancuso and Matt Chapman went up and performed their two-ship demo for the growing crowd.

A different F4U Corsair from Pease took off and did some passes and then made room for “Catfish” of the East Coast Hornet team. The skies were perfect for some great vapor shots. They teamed up for the Legacy flight and made three passes for the crowd, showing off the “then and now” of the Navy.

Michael Goulian took to the skies and was followed by the Thunderbirds. On Saturday the Thunderbirds had to stop their show three times due to not having the 5-mile visibility the solo’s need. They tried two different times to start their “low” show but there just was not enough visibility to fly safely and made the right move to cancel Saturday’s show. Luckily they were able to perform their full show on Sunday.

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I would like to thank PAO Lt Pierce of the 157th ARW and PAO Cliff MacDonald of the 102nd FW for all of their help on these two weekends.



Report and photos by Dave 'O Brien ( view portfolio )