Thursday, September 14, 2017

California Capital Airshow: Patriots Jets, Patriot Parachute, Kent Pietsch and Bill Stein photo galleries

Patriots Jet Team
Patriots Jet Team at California Capital Airshow, Rancho Cordova

(All photogalleries click here.)

Last weekend, the Mather Airport in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento, California, was home to the annual California Capital Airshow. With parachutes, one-and-two seater planes through to giant examples of aviation engineering, both the skies and the ground were filled with the spirit of the air, past, present and future. Beautifully-restored vintage planes, all flown in to compete in the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, all correct down to the last rivet. Huge, military transport planes, big enough to carry a village. The first-ever airshow fly-by by a Doomsday plane. A huge audience of military veterans of all ages, young families and teens; people with stories to tell and pictures to paint in the sky; food to be eaten and water to be drunk by the gallon under the relentless, close to 100 degree September sun.

The sky overhead was a beautiful, clear turquoise, and the planes made their own clouds, streaming red white and blue, orange and yellow, across the sky. Sacramento's 70-plus days of poor air quality was evident closer to the ground, appearing like a foggy haze against out of which the low-flying jets zoomed.
Patriot Parachute Team
Patriot Parachute Team
The ex-and-currently-serving Navy SEALS from the Patriot Parachute Team started each day by jumping in with the stars and stripes, bringing the flag to the runway, and then jumping again, later in the day, stacking up three parachutes in a chain, one man upside-down, as Bill Stein flew around. (There's an amazing photo on the Parachute Team's website showing... well just take a look here!)

Kent Pietsch, Interstate Cadet, aerobatics
Kent Pietsch, gliding down from 6,000 feet
Kent Pietsch was like the airshow clown in his Jelly Belly decorated, Interstate Cadet aerobatics plane; first stealing out of Folsom jail with his plane and party-crashing the show, scraping a wing on the runway, losing an aileron and a wheel or two and a roll of toilet paper (which he then caught), landing on top of a pickup truck, and then taking the yellow plane up to 6,000 feet, and gliding it back down to earth, loop-by-lazy-loop through the sky. The smoke from the wing-tips look like puppet strings, gently guiding the plane down, though you know it was Mr Pietsch's skill that brought him safely to earth again.

Bill Stein, aerobatics, Edge 540
Bill Stein at the California Capital Airshow
Bill Stein in his Edge 540, a plane painted like a dragonfly; iridescent, changing colour with the angle of the light; purple and yellow, orange and green. Amazing aerobatic show; circling the parachutists, tumbling through the sky, spiralling and swirling and zooming way, way up again; skimming the ground, upside-down. Look closely at the photos, and you can see him grinning, he's having so much fun up there!
Patriots Jet Team
Patriots Jet Team at California Capital Airshow
The Patriots Jet Team, headlining the show: six sleek, shiny jets, flying in formation, roaring through the sky, inches apart: red, white and blue smoke flagging where they had been, in case you blinked and missed it. Delta formation, then separating and flying at each other from the four corners of the county, crossing with what seemed like millimeters to spare. Loud, exciting, awe-inspiring. Men and machines as one.

Bill Stein, aerobatics, Edge 540
Bill Stein... which way is up???
An airshow is a photographer's dream... challenging, spectacular, so many moments to capture.

Here are the first photo galleries: more coming soon, jets and the Doomsday plane, an A-10 and the Heritage Flight, the ground show and much more! Links will be added below as the photos are available.
For more info on Alison Toon's photography, and to book a photography session see

Patriots Jet Team
Patriots Jet Team

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