100 Years of Women in the Marine Corps
The theme of this year’s Miramar Air Show was “100 Years of Women in the Marine Corps” to recognize the accomplishments and sacrifice of female warriors in one of the toughest branches of the US military. Approximately 500,000 visitors attended the three-day event to watch daily aircraft performances including the Patriots, flying on Aero L-39C Albatros trainers, and of course, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flying their McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornets.
North American PBJ-1J
We enjoy modern jets quite a lot, but we love older warbirds even more. Soon after entering the airshow, we stumbled upon a North American PBJ-1J patrol bomber, a United States Marine Corps version of the famous B-25 Mitchell. Operated by the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force based in Camarillo, it is one of only two PBJ-1 variants still airworthy today. There is a chance that this plane will be flying at the Miramar Air Show 2019.
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
The nearby Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum participates in the air show every year by hauling some of their aircraft onto the Miramar’s tarmac. This year, they presented their Bell HTL-4 Sioux, Kaman HOK-1/OH-43D Huskie, Sikorsky HUS (UH-34D) Sea Horse, Grumman EA-6B Prowler, McDonnell Douglas RF-4B Phantom II, McDonnell Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk and McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk. The museum also sells t-shirts, hats and other aviation gifts to help support their cause.
War Dog vs. Shockwave
The first warbird in the air was a North American SNJ-5 Texan War Dog piloted by John Collver. The plane was initially based at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County, California. After some aerobatics it was time for a race with the Shockwave, a Peterbilt semitruck equipped with three jet engines. Unsurprisingly, War Dog’s top speed of 250 mph was not a match for Shockwave’s world record for jet-powered full-sized trucks which currently stands at 376 mph.
After Shockwave’s smoke cleared, it was time for more warbirds. Three trainers, including a Beech T-34A Mentor, North American SNJ-5 Texan and North American T-28B Trojan took off accompanied by two fighters, a North American P-51D Mustang Lady Alice and Grumman FM-2 Wildcat. Several high-speed banana passes made warbird photographers ecstatic!
While the Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey was demonstrating its capability for mid-flight nacelle rotation, a Lockheed U-2S based out of Beale AFB was getting ready to take off. The plane, nicknamed Dragon Lady, is a former top-secret ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft that gained recognition with flights over the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and Southeast Asia during the Cold War. Due to its high-lift glider wings the plane took off very quickly and made several low and high passes. Dragon Lady has an extremely limited visibility when landing which requires a chase car to follow the plane and provide radio instructions to the pilot. At Miramar the chase car was of course, a Lamborghini.
Next, as a part of the official opening ceremonies, the U.S. Army Golden Knights and U.S Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams took off in the Golden Knights’ brand new de Havilland C-147A (DHC-8) that recently replaced their long time jump platform, a Fokker C-31A Troopship. The first jumper performed the traditional American Flag drop, soon followed by others parachuting solo or in teams of two or three joined together. With all Golden Knights and Leap Frogs safely on the ground, it was time for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force demo featuring Hornets, Harriers, Ospreys, Super Stallions, Venoms, and a C-130J Super Hercules tanker in the air.
Heritage Flight canceled
Unfortunately, the Heritage Flight featuring a USAF Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and North American P-51D Mustang was canceled this year. However, all the other performances, some of which we didn’t even mention, together with static displays were more than enough to call it a very successful air show.