Air Show Report : Boston-Portsmouth Air Show 2010
On August 28-29, 2010, Pease Air National Guard Base and colocated Portsmouth International Airport was the location for the Boston-Portsmouth Air Show. Altough the military was not organising the show, the airshow attracted many military performers. Dave O'Brien provides his report and photos, from arrivals to post-show departures and the action in between.
Air Show at Pease ANGB, but not organized by ANG
This was a show I was looking forward to because it is held at the base I grew up watching as a kid. To say I was disappointed the 157th ARW was not running this event was an understatement! First, I want to separate the show organizers from the acts, because they are totally separate. The show was produced by the Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America and the Brain Injury Association of NH, and that is where the problem started. They turned this show into nothing but Corporate Corruption! Tickets were selling for $25 per adult, $20 per child unless you were under six and on top of that they charged $10 to park. If you did buy your tickets online before the show they did take $5/ticket but it was rain or shine, no refunds were given. The fact that the NH Air National Guard was not involved was the only reason they were able to charge for this show. Then once you got on base, 80% of the front row was nothing but large white corporate tents that kept the true air show fans far behind the fence line.
I was looking forward to bringing my kids to this show and only because I was able to get three VIP tickets given to me Friday afternoon did I end up going. Otherwise to just get in was going to cost me $75 and that did not include food, drink or souvenirs for two boys. First I went to shoot the practices on Thursday and Friday, only to be told we could not stand near the fence line like we have done at every other air show and any other day I am there shooting other military planes flying practice approaches. They had the entire grass area and all parking lots taped off with yellow police tape. They did not want anyone getting a free show, there were more precautions for this show than when Air Force One arrives. I PRAY that the NH ANG take this show back the next time they think of having it.
Now I want to talk about the acts, because they were incredible. Between my two practice days I saw some great activity, but it was difficult shooting during my half day on base with my kids. Pease is an old SAC bomber base, and the runway is very far from the crowd line. Then by noon you are shooting into the sun, so you might as well put the camera down and enjoy the show. The civilian acts involved were local pilot Rob Holland, Sean Tucker also attended as did Michael Goulian and John Klatt. A new group for me this year was TEAM MS.760, these were two black-and-white French built four-seat jet aircraft. They were flown by Ret. Navy Capt. Dale "Snort" Snodgrass and Ret. USAF Lt.Col. Jerry "Jive" Kerby.
For the military demos attending it was a loaded show, with West Coast F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo from NAS Lemoore, the East Coast F-16 Viper Team from Shaw AFB, and they had the F-15E Strike Eagle Squadron from Seymour-Johnson AFB. Unfortunately the F-15E was unable to go up to practice on Friday, because the Boeing 757 they had come in for the airplane pull blew sand up the engine intakes and the crew had to make sure the engine blades were clean before starting their engines. They did go up over the weekend, but it was after I left with my kids.
Another first for me was the Brazilian Air Force Esquadrillha da Fumaça, the “Smoke Squadron”. This is a 7-ship team flying the Embraer T-27 Tucano turboprop training aircraft. I'm not normally a fan of the smaller, slower propeller aircraft, but these guys flew very tight formations and their aircraft colors were great to shoot in the blue skies.
The US Navy Blue Angels were the show’s closer, it has been 20 years since they had last been in Portsmouth. Back then it was still Pease AFB, a SAC base flying FB-111 bombers and KC-135 tankers. Being able to watch the Blues fly their Thursday flights marking their turn-in points and then their full practice on Friday was great. Being outside the fence did give me some different angled shots that you do not get while on base for media day. I was able to get my kids to see them fly Sunday afternoon from a local parking lot. With my oldest listening to my scanner as the "Boss" kept the pilots pulling through their maneuvers was a highlight for him. One of the four-ship pilots called out over the radio, "That was awesome boss!", and that just made him so excited which is all I wanted.
As much as I would love to have another air show here at Pease, if the Brain Injury is running it again I hope the military teams boycott this show and just go to Quonsett RI, Westfield or Westover MA, or even NAS Brunswick. The latter is supposed to have one more air show in 2011. Air shows at military bases have always been, and should always be free. If you want to ask for a donation that's fine, but enough with the Corporate Corruption that was displayed at Pease this year.
Report and photos by Dave O'Brien ( view portfolio )