Thrills and no spills marked the 8th two-day California Capital Airshow. And at 10 years old (the initial airshow was in 2004), the show’s Executive Director Darcy Brewer has put together a major national airshow pulling in amazing airplanes and the nation’s top airshow performers like Kirby Chambliss, Mike Goulian and Kyle Franklin, to name a few.
With the government shutdown, no military presence was available. But Brewer used that to her advantage. Who needs the Blue Angels when you can get the 11-jet Canadian Snowbird team? The shutdown cancelled other shows dependent on a huge government presence and Brewer on just a couple of days notice was able to corral the six-jet Patriots flying team, so there was no lack of high-speed, close-formation jet maneuvers. The Patriots use the L39 Albatross jet made famous by Pierce Brosnan in the Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies.” There was even a rare Alpha jet demonstration.
Alpha jets were designed by a consortium of Dassault Aviation of France and Donier of Germany. Only recently retired from the European military, only nine are in the United States. This one is owned by Mark Peterson of Boise, Idaho. Retired General Motors Executive VP, Bob Lutz also owns one.
This year’s theme was a tribute to the 65th anniversary of the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift, a solution to the Soviet’s blockade of West Berlin. The airlift was, in large part, the creation of Lt. Col Jon Huggins, USAF Ret. who appeared in uniform at the airshow. The 363-day airlift of Douglas C-54s (DC-4) and C-47s (DC-3) saved two million residents of West Berlin from starvation until the blockade was lifted. A C-54 that participated in the airlift flew at the show.
Flying out of the history books were World War II P-51 Mustangs, Korean War F-86 Saber Jets and a World War II B-25. All three of these types of aircraft were designed and built by North American Aviation as were the AT-6 Texans that flew along with the lone T-28 Trojan. Two English Hawker Sea Furies, one of the fastest fighters of WWII, flew as well. They made 400 mph passes and did aerobatic maneuvers, and the sound of their engines at full song can make Pavarotti sound flat.
Paul Stender brought his world’s-fastest school bus, which is powered by a J-79 turbojet out of an F-4 Phantom. It is a 35-foot bus that can do over 360 mph and can get kids to school at six miles a minute. There should never be another tardy.
The airshow performers were non-stop for almost five hours so give yourself plenty of time for next year to see everything.
There were dozens of aircraft on display for tours and inspection, vendor displays and plenty of great food and drink.
Attendance figures are as of yet unavailable, but judging by the parking lots and the crowds, Saturday’s crowd, which enjoyed perfect weather, probably exceeded 30,000. Sunday was even larger. Still, getting in and out of the show and parking was beautifully choreographed.
The California Capital Airshow has grown up to be a big boy of airshows.