Monday, October 3, 2016

California Capital Airshow... a little deja-vu, and a whole lotta wonder and awe...

B-29 Superfortress
"Fifi', B-29 Superfortress bomber
(UPDATE 7 Oct 2016: All the photo galleries are now live -- click here to see them all..)

Sunday lunchtime, 2nd October, and I'm feeling a little deja-vu. A leaden sky hangs over Mather Field air base, and it looks like it's going to storm, or worse. A week before, I'd been in Houston for Houston Open Air, and Sunday started exactly like this. On Saturday, in Houston, the show had been dramatically cut short, and bands cancelled, due to things outside of the festival organizers' control--the weather. At California Capital Airshow, the Saturday show too had been cut short, again not by choice: the lead pilot for the US Navy Blue Angels was unwell, and for safety's sake, the flight could not happen.

And then here we were, Sunday, and there's a really ominous sky...

Golden Knights parachute team
US Army Golden Knights parachute team
Very happily, the storm cell moved onward and around, just giving us a light sprinkling of rain, and a magnificent, cloudy sky as a backdrop to the show, in contrast to Saturday's beautiful, clear blue. A few accommodations were made by the airshow for the weather--I think the parachutists dropped from a lower height, but still really high, and from a 'copter not a plane--and the entire day's show was wonderful!!!

Mike Wiskus, Lucas Oil, Aerobatics
Mike Wiskus flying the Lucas Oil aerobatics plane... stunning!!!
The incredible aerobatics of Mike Wiskus in the Lucas Oil plane, including a battle with a rocket car; a renactment of World War II, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, including one of the only two remaining B-29 Superfortress bombers, "Fifi" (which means I've had OMD's Enola Gay in my head all day); free-fall parachutisting by the US Army's Golden Knights team... watching the swearing-in of new military recruits; WW II veterans and young military and cadets; the Canadian Air Force jet, and the grand finale, the US Navy Blue Angels, including the "OH SHXT!!!) moment when the solo plane zooms past, as you are still watching the other planes fly away in formation...

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels... flying upside-down, as you do!
And not forgetting all the on-ground displays, and planes... from a tiny, mirrored Cessna to a huge, enormous, even-bigger-than-that airlift plane. Helicopters and planes-with-folding-wings and troop carriers and... and... and...

This was my first-ever airshow. It will definitely not be the last.

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels, mid-air pass
The organizers of both California Capital Airshow, and Houston Open Air, each took rapid action for ticket holders when parts of the events were cancelled; CCA allowed everyone with a Saturday ticket to come back on Sunday for free. Houston Open Air issued refunds. One thing this reminds each and every one of us: there is always a risk when you buy a ticket, always something that is out of the control of the organizers, yet which might affect the lineup; weather, and sickness, they happen. I think that everyone who was at the Airshow on Sunday saw a thrilling performance by all... personally I'm still in awe of those dudes who rock the skies with those planes.

US Navy Blue Angels
Wings almost touching, four US Navy Blue Angels in formation
The airshow made me very happy... skylarks and prop planes, grassy airfields and distant hangers all evoke happy and content childhood memories... watching the light aircraft fly into and out of Rearsby Aerodrome, Leicestershire, England, where my dad worked for a while as a carpenter, fitting the interiors of Auster/Beagle aircraft. Watching gliders towed into the sky, and then watching them ride the air for a long, long time, and back to earth again.

Golden Knights parachute team
Carrying in the POW/MIA flag, US Army Golden Knights
I'll be racking up a few more air miles this year, but as a passenger way back in the cabin, preferably of something with more than twenty seats and 747 written somewhere on the fuselage... and preferably with no rolls, and without wings almost touching another plane. That experience is for another day, watching an airshow as good as this one was. Thank you to everyone who organized and participated in California Capital Airshow--it was a great weekend!!!

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels, solo
(A special shout-out to the person who put the soundtrack together. Who knew metal/hard rock and an airshow went together??? So very cool hearing Nothing More, Shinedown, and others playing while seeing these magnificent planes, and brave/crazy pilots, flying. If you were at the show and wondered what the music was, and enjoyed it too, then you might also enjoy Aftershock festival, coming up soon at Discovery Park. The airshow was my first; make Aftershock your first rock festival!)

NOTE: All the photo galleries are linked below. Follow on Twitter (@alisontoon) and Instagram (@alisontoonphotographer) for announcements of new events and photo galleries!

Photo galleries:

- All galleries
- US Navy Blue Angels
- US Army Golden Knights
- WWII reenactment
- Mike Wisus Lucas Oil
- Canadian and USA Air Forces; Hornet and Viper jets
- Plus planes on the ground, people watching the planes... all the fun of the airshow!

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