June 2-3, 2001
Airshow review written on June 3, 2001.
Arguably, Lakehurst was supposed to be my second airshow of this season. However, plans for attending Andrews AFB's show had to be sheveled because of reasons beyond my control. When I announced on the site that I would not be attending Andrews, I had a few fans complaining about that and my removal of the Andrews JSOH Preview. It's fact of the matter that I do not preview the lineup for a show site that I won't be at! It's common sense plus I really wouldn't care who would be at that site anyway. Saturday's show had scattered periods of rain and some sun but every act made it into the air except for the F-16 East Demo. The KC-10's flyby included one pass with the boom down. Enough on that, let's go on with the review of Sunday's show - the day that I did attend!
I must admit - this review was probably the hardest review I've ever written just because of how much of a great show this was! Anyways, the gang (consisting of my parents, myself, and my buddy Keith) pulled into Lakehurst around 9:15, the very time a McGuire C-141 took off and flew over in the dirty configuration. I must say, the very profile he was flying at was very extreme and very low! I've never seen a C-141 fly like that before! At any rate, I took the time to tour the statics and to be honest, I wasn't really impressed. The largest aircraft were a FedEX 727 and a C-130 Hercules from Maxwell AFB. Four Hornets total showed up (one of them was a Super Hornet). There were a few warbirds, no P-51, no F-15, but there was a very nice display of an F-14A with the carrier assisted net set up. The statics were divided in two parts - the larger statics near Hangars 5 & 6 and the warbirds, F-16, Super Hornet by the performing aircraft.
Airshow flying unofficially began at around 11:15AM with Patty Wagstaff taking to the air in a practice run. Yeah, it's just a practice run but it doesn't matter - she's probably, if not, one of the best female pilot I've ever seen fly. And she's a true sweetheart also (more on that later!)!. Sean Tucker took to the air for his practice run and from his performance in 1997 at Willow Grove. That demo back then was awesome and I fell in love with his triple ribbon cut. His practice run didn't include the actual ribbon cut but he did show the crowd how he would do it. Just one thing annoyed me - why was Patty flying behind the tree line in her practice show? I guess it didn't really matter since her demo during the show was in front of the crowd or maybe it was since I was between the two static areas.
Surprises galore were abound for today's show. Since Saturday's was almost a washout, crowds in HUGE numbers came out to the show today. Perhaps the huge majority of them came out to see me (and a few people did stop me when I was shooting the statics). The announcers, Frank Kingston Smith and Sonny Everett, had a blast today. A fellow airshow photographer of mine, Steve Serdikoff (I didn't see him anywhere!) had said that Frank would be pretty ticked off if it rained the whole weekend. Well, it didn't rain today! Clouds did stay in the area the entire show but it didn't really ruin the show. Saturday's show featured a KC-10 flyby out of McGuire and by a surprise of myself, a KC-10 did a single flyby today! He flew low, slow, and in the dirty configuration. After his flyby, the Super Hornet was being prepped for takeoff. Now things started to heat up. Was this baby going to fly a demo? Well, he lined up at the end of the runway and took the noise level up about 10,000,000 decibels on his takeoff roll. I must say, that is one loud airplane! His takeoff roll was even more impressive. He only used about 500 feet of runway to get into the air! But, unfortunately, this was a departure flight. What the heck - it was great hearing the Super Hornet in action!
Throughout the morning, the NJ Army Guard has demos of an Abrams tank showing its all-terrain capability plus the capability for its turret to remain a specific heading for a target even if the tank itself is moving in seventy different directions. Sonny Everett himself came out to congradulate Cmdr. Richard R. Bartis for doing a great job organizing a top-notch lineup for this year's show. The official airshow got started off with one Golken Knight jumper, Cheryl , who jumped out of a Piper Cherokee and landed on a piece of plank. Cheryl was circled by Kirk Wicker in his Stearman. She landed dead center on the plank with a huge applause from the crowd. Kirk then went up and flew a solo performance with the Stearman, which was very nice and he added in a very nice crosswind landing to his demo.
Then came the B-1 Lancer. Now, I was expecting one B-1 to show up and there were rumors that two would show up and I didn't believe it. Take Andrews in 2000 for example. They were supposed to have a two-ship B-1 flyby but one showed up. Now, here with Lakehurst, TWO B-1s showed up. They passes the base at an irregular angle to set up for the first pass, a slow formation pass. That was very impressive! The second pass involved the first aircraft doing a high speed pass. If you haven't seen this in person, it is VERY LOUD! The first Bone did a high speed flyby, along with the second one way behind the first. The second flew a high speed pass but this time almost in the knife edge. This was just awesome, plus the show just started!
Dale "Snort" Snodgrass was up next in his beautiful AT&T Skyblazers F-86. Granted, the F-86 wasn't as loud as I thought it would be, but it was loud enough! Dale put the plane through a lot of high speed maneuvers, reminiscent of his F-14 demo pilot days (although I really don't remember seeing him fly the Tomcat before). Great demo. The plane looked great and the paint scheme is modeled off of the late Steve Snyder's F-86. After Snort landed, a Beech C-12 carrying Deb Mitchell (she's the NAS Oceana Airshow Director) had to depart the show area for reasons I'm not too sure of. Mike Mancuso was up next. Mike is a relative newcomer to the airshow scene as he was an original pilot of the Northern Lights Aerobatic Team. Mike flies the Klein Tools Extra 300 and he flies a very nice demonstration. I was very impressed with his demonstration, especially since he's a newcomer to the solo aerobatics scene. Ranking right up there with now one of my favorite warbird acts was up next.
The Confederate Air Force had eight Japanese warbird replicas at the show, represented by three A6M Zeroes, three Kates, and two Vals, I think. I'm not the best on figuring out Japanese warbirds! The CAF put on a re-enactment on the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was started with three Zeroes attacking the field followed by the three Kates and the two Vals tearing the place up with the best pyro I've seen in two years. The Tora aircraft literally bombed the hell out of Lakehurst! For like ten minutes, the airfield was bombed to skin and bones. On the flight line at that very time, a lone P-40 flown by Derrick Dodds managed to evacuate the scene and flew a mock dogfight with one of the Zeroes. It wasn't a real mock dogfight - the P-40 was chasing the Zero. As one of the Kates flew over from the right, the pyro crews set off a huge wall of fire - one of the largest I've ever seen in the area! As the attack concluded, two Zeroes landed in front of the crowd and the rest of the Tora group landed on the test runway, 3 miles in front of the crowd, where I was taping. High winds were forecast for the airshow and that did no help with the leftover white pyro smoke as it moved over the crowd who were sitting at the far left end of the flight line. A large area of the grass at show center did catch on fire and fire crews scrambled to put the flames out. You could easily see the burnt grass where the fire once was. I have to say, that was one awesome re-enactment!
As one of the Zeroes taxiied in front of the crowd, pole holders for TEAM ORACLE made their way out to the flight line for Mr. Salinas, CA himself, Sean D. Tucker. The Mr. Salinas, CA is not his actual title but he sure deserves it! The beautiful ORACLE Challenger has a new bright-orange and red mixed paint scheme and it looks great! Sean flew his demo exactly as I remembered it back four years ago when he was with 1-800-COLLECT. His triple ribbon cut was even more impressive! I'm glad he'll be at Willow Grove in September! One of his trademark maneuvers which I really like is his Harrier pass. Just the way he keeps the plane flying at such a slow speed and at a high angle of attack is amazing!
The F-16 East Coast Demo was next. As with Tora, the F-16 had to use the test runway to take off. He started out his demo with a sneak pass from behind, which I almost screwed up! That, by in far, was one helluva demo! Randy "Juicy" Efferson is one heck of a F-16 pilot! It's too bad that's the only time I'll see an F-16 demo this year, East or West Coast demo. During the F-16 demo, Snort got into the air again with the F-86 and waited in the circuit for Juicy to finish his demo. Randy is the best F-16 demo pilot I've ever seen! After his demo, he paired with Snort to fly four photo perfect passes for the Heritage Flight. It doesn't matter what aircraft are in a Heritage Flight - they're all good! After the F-16 landed, Snort flew some photo passes in the F-86 before landing.
Kirk and Jane Wicker were up next. I have never seen their act before, and this was one truly memorable one to say the least! I had taken a real shine to the act from the beginning and if you haven't seen it before, I would take the time and attend a show they will be performing at. It's Beauty and the Beast Wingwalking, with Jane being the Beauty (and she is a beautiful lady might I add!) and the Beast being the giant Stearman, trying to shake Beauty off. Beauty tries to "tame" Beast by moving in and out and around the entire aircraft. And it's a real wingwalking act! She climbs out the the front cockpit to start the show and in landing, she's back in the cockpit. It's an amazing demo, I must add.
Two warbirds were in the flying display - a P-40 Warhawk flown by Derrick Dodds and an FG-1D Corsair "Skyboss" flown by Dan Dameo. I thought this would be a regular old warbird review but these guys did rolls in the aircraft showing how maneuverable the planes are. It was much different than I had expected but heck, I was impressed! The beautiful Patty Wagstaff was up next. Her routine was unbelievable - it had been a dream of mine and a goal to see her fly at any show I attend. I think that she is the very best female pilot in, well, my heart. If there's one Extra 300 pilot's demo I could see over and over, it would be hers.
Fat Albert was up next to show off the Jet Assisted Take Off with the 8 bottle rockets strapped to the site of that monster C-130. Fat Albert always impresses me, no matter what routine he's doing, either the JATO, flat pass, or the landing. The Blue Angels had to use the test runway so there was no way of seeing the diamond takeoff or the solo takeoffs but you sure could hear them! The demo was flawless in every way. However, I think it was a low show that they flew, but it didn't matter as it was a great show nonetheless!
Some of the people I would like to extend a special thanks to include Rich Kolasa (thanks a bunch for that photo of Patty!!!), Patty Wagstaff (the autograph on the photo and on my copy of your book), Frank Kingston Smith for taking time out in the show to speak with me and my dad, Sonny Everett, Jim Williams, Jaime, and most of all, Cmdr. Richard R. Bartis for his work and efforts to provide me information regarding the show.
But hey... the surprises in the flying display easily bumped it up to a 10!
C-23 Sherpa -
C-130 Hercules - Maxwell AFB
Boeing 727-200 - FedEx
(2) AT-6/SNJ Texans -
B-25 Mitchell - Rag Wings and Radials, VA
UC-78 Bamboo - Rag Wings and Radials, VA
F/A-18F Super Hornet - NAS Lemoore, CA
F-16 Fighting Falcon - Atlantic City, NJ
TBM Avenger -
Yak 52 -
Ryan L-18 Navion -
(3) F/A-18 Hornets - VFA-81, (2) VFA-147
A-10 Warthog - NAS/JRB Willow Grove, PA
Beech C-12 -
F-14A Tomcat - Lakehurst, NJ
F-4 Phantom II - Lakehurst, NJ
T-2 Buckeye -
EA-6B Prowler - Andrews AFB, MD
Bell 206 JetRanger - NJ Forestry Services
Cessna U206 -
Cessna 172M -
T-34B Mentor -
AH-1 Cobra - Trenton, NJ
UH-60 Blackhawk - Trenton, NJ
OH-58 Kiowa - Trenton, NJ
Military Demo Teams
Participating Organizations and Other Participants
Announcers: Frank Kingston Smith and Sonny Everett