Old and Bold !

A Very Amer­i­can Air­show

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Frisian Flag 2018 - Text and im­ages by Pa­trick Dirk­sen and Frank Mink, Tris­tar Avi­a­tion

Heritage flight at Luke AFB: the P-51D, F-35A, F-22A and A-10C

With air­shows at NAF El Cen­tro, MCAS Yuma and Luke AFB in March, the US Air Force, Navy and Marines her­alded a sum­mer of avi­a­tion fun. While the show at El Cen­tro had to cope with clouds and even some rain, the shows at Yuma and Luke wit­nessed bright sun­shine and blue skies. But all the three shows boasted of vig­or­ous foot­falls.

It should come as no sur­prise that the US Navy showed off their new­est Hor­nets at El Cen­tro, with no less than 16 VFA106 Glad­i­a­tors per­form­ing a tac­ti­cal demo with the F/A-18F Su­per Hor­net. Two new EA-18G Growlers of NAS Whid­bey Is­land based VAQ-129 and two F/A-18E Hor­nets of VFA-97 from NAS Le­moore were present at the static dis­play. And of course, the world fa­mous Blue An­gels closed the fly­ing pro­grammes with their six F/A-18C’s, their first pub­lic dis­play of 2018.

The main at­trac­tion at Yuma was the F- 35B Lightning II, which opened the fly­ing dis­play. See­ing a jet hang­ing still in the air re­mains a strange and im­pres­sive sight! Next to this mod­ern hard­ware, a for­ma­tion of four ven­er­a­ble F- 5Es in at­trac­tive ‘ag­gres­sor’ colours made their pres­ence felt by mak­ing two passes in close for­ma­tion. The F-5Es are part of Yuma based Marine Fighter Train­ing Squadron 401 (VMFT-401). This squadron acts as the op­pos­ing force dur­ing sim­u­lated air com­bat. Away from the thun­der­ing noise of jets, a UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper flew a tac­ti­cal demo, closely work­ing to­gether. And the older cousin of the Venom, a Yuma-based HH-1N Huey, showed its ca­pa­bil­i­ties in Search and Res­cue.

Luke is the home of dozens of F-16s and F-35s, so lots of those types could be seen both in the air and on the ground. For the Joint Airfield As­sault Demo, Luke was tem­po­rar­ily trans­formed into an en­emy airfield. In a dis­play of jets, he­li­copters and trans­port air­craft, as­sisted by ground forces, this en­emy airfield was quickly taken over by the US forces. Next was the fa­mous Tora! Tora! Tora! dis­play which in­cluded nine Ja­panese fight­ers recre­at­ing the at­tack on Pearl Har­bour. A B-17 Fly­ing Fortress heavy bomber man­aged a safe land­ing on the heav­ily dam­aged airfield while this was still un­der at­tack. Back to mod­ern times, the F-22A Rap­tor and still-go­ing-strong A-10C Thun­der­bolt II flew their demon­stra­tions, with the USAF Heritage Flight clos­ing this part of the show.

USAF Heritage Flight

Dur­ing 50th an­niver­sary of the United States Air Force cel­e­bra­tions at Nel­lis AFB in 1997, the first Heritage Flight was born. Now twenty years later, the

Air Force Heritage Flight is firmly em­bed­ded in many air­show pro­grammes. The Heritage Flight for­ma­tion is formed with ac­tive USAF fighter air­craft and pri­vately owned vet­eran air­craft such as the P-51D Mustang, P-38M Lightning and the F-86F Sabre. The Heritage Flight As­so­ci­a­tion was formed in 2010 to sup­port and co­or­di­nate all these heritage flights within the United States and world­wide.

For two years now, Steve Hin­ton has been fly­ing the F-86F for these heritage flights who com­mented: “We dis­play the past and present for vet­er­ans. Ev­ery time we want to put on a dis­play which is mem­o­rable for them.” At the MCAS Yuma air­show, Hin­ton flew his F-86F in for­ma­tion with the F-22A Rap­tor from the Air Com­bat Com­mand F-22 Rap­tor demo team. Prior to ev­ery show sea­son, Hin­ton and the eight other se­lected heritage pi­lots fly and train to­gether with the US Air Force pi­lots in a for­mal train­ing en­vi­ron­ment at Davis-Mon­than AFB. Here they set the bound­aries and stan­dards for the dis­play. “I en­joy train­ing, pulling Gs, loft­ing and zoom­ing through the air with this 1952 jet. I am lucky to do this. But most im­por­tant is hon­our­ing the past and the present” says Hin­ton.

The North Amer­i­can F- 86F Sabre that Hin­ton flies is a for­mer USAF se­rial 52-5012 and Fuearza Aérea Ar­gentina (Ar­gen­tinian Air Force) se­rial C-127. The air­craft is now civil reg­is­tered as NX186AM. It is painted in the colours of 335th Fighter-In­ter­cep­tor Squadron, part of the 4th Fighter-In­ter­cep­tor Wing with se­rial 12834 coded FU-834. It is to rep­re­sent the air­craft that was flown by Korean war ace Cap­tain Clif­ford D. Jol­ley. It in­cludes the nose art “Jol­let Roger” and the 7 kills that Jol­ley scored dur­ing the Korean War. The air­craft is now owned and op­er­ated by the Planes of Fame Mu­seum at Chino, Cal­i­for­nia. Hin­ton is Pres­i­dent of the Planes of Fame mu­seum.

Old but still bold, F-5 for­ma­tion break over Yuma

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