The 2014 Redding Air Show took place under overcast skies, with the usual large crowd. Attractions came from all over in the form of stationary exhibits, high flying acrobats, with a host of vendors for food, drink, and accessories. The Flight Deck VIP section was a great deal with an all you can eat, and drink venue, with great seating.
The opening ceremonies included a skydiving exhibition. The three divers bailed out of a plane directly above the airfield, each with a special mission. The first diver flew within good view of the crowd before releasing a long trailing flag, and then quickly landed. After the first diver landed the second diver released a Canadian flag at the same altitude as the first diver released his, and was accompanied on the ground by the Canadian National Anthem. The third diver soared high above as the second diver landed. The American Flag dropped below the last diver, and the National Anthem accompanied him to the ground.
The show starts off with the War Dog, flown by John Collver. The 1944 AT-6/SNJ plane was propelled into a variety of maneuvers to woo the crowd, and kick off the flying portion of the show. The WWII plane and pilot put on a great display of the very maneuvers used by a combat pilot of the era.
A T-34 named Juice Plus+ took to the air after the War Dog came to rest. The highly polished, Air Force One styled plane was flown by Julie Clark. Julie performed a variety of aerial feats, flirting with the runway repeatedly. Her performance was spirited, patriotic, with a crescendo of her jumping onto the insides of the T-34 cockpit waving an American Flag after landing. The cool part is the plane was still rolling, with this lady standing tall waving the American Flag.
Ace Maker took to the sky, piloted by Greg Colyer. The T-33 he flies has quite a history, and the link is worth following to read about it. Greg put the nearly 70 year old T-33 through a variety of high performance stunts, while the announcer gave a history lesson on the plane. I was amazed by how little noise the Ace Maker made as compared with the fighter jets of today.
Next up the Mighty B-25 Mitchell, Gruman Hellcat, and a Mitsubishi Zero took to the skies. The acrobatics of these planes were nothing like the ones that preceded them, but the history lesson from the announcer gave a host of specifications and war stories about the planes. The B-25 was operated by the Disabled American Veterans Flight Team, and regularly performs at air shows in honor of Disabled Veterans. The Gruman Hellcat and Mitsubishi Zero were sent by the Commemorative Air Force from Southern California.
Next Jacquie Warda came on with The Extra 300, the most successful aerobatic plane to date. The plane is made from a variety of materials including aluminum, wood, carbon fiber, etc., and blend together to form the perfect prop driven aerobatic plane. Jackie takes The Extra 300 through a variety of maneuvers that show off its unprecedented abilities for a prop driven plane.
The P-38 Lightning took to the air after The Extra 300, and it was time for another history lesson. This P-38 is known as 23 Skidoo, and was sent by the Planes of Fame Organization. The aircraft is currently worth eleven million dollars, and was a product of the Lockheed Skunk Works. Known as the Fork Tail Devil by the Japanese in World War II, it carries a rich history of accomplishments during the war.
The Canadian McDonnel Douglas CF-18 Hornet followed 23 Skidoo. The power of this aircraft can be felt during its performance, and it is obvious the CF-18 has virtually unlimited climbing power to its ceiling. The pilot took the plane through maneuvers that surely would tear many aircraft apart if they could even come close to doing them. The plane also made a flyby at around one hundred miles per hour, most jets would drop out of the sky at this slow of a speed, but the CF-18 has the power to make it happen.
This years headliner was the Canadian Air Force Snow Birds, who dazzled the crowd with a nine member precision jet acrobatic stunt team. The team flies the CT-114 Tutor, and drawing a steady stream of wow’s from the crowd. The amazing thing about the nine member team is that there is very little lag between stunts. They disperse, and converge in various configurations throughout the show to keep the audience spellbound. I enjoyed the Snow Birds performance as much as any team I have seen.