BZ's 2010 California International Airshow

Photo Gallery

This was my first time attending the California International Airshow in Salinas, CA. It's a medium sized affair with some big name draws. The Blues and Thunderbirds alternate going, and this year was the Thunderbirds' turn. I was going to make light of the show name, but there were some static Canadian aircraft in attendance - so technically, it's fine. :-) The runway layout in relation to the crowd line is kind of odd though, which puts some things much further away than at other places. However, the nice weather, and relatively high humidity, combined with some really close and fast passes made this quite the memorable show!
Nikon D300 and D200, w/ 18-105mm Nikkor VR, and 150-500mm Sigma OS lenses - Bernard Zee

Was really cool to see some monster trucks there. Far from being just static displays, they did some demos on a course smashing up cars later in the day!

Super charged V-8 pumps out globs of torque and horsepower!

Other than superficially sort of looking like a pickup truck (or van) from far away, there's not a single component that the monster trucks share with a streetgoing vehicle.

There was a stock car there too, but no demo.

Bunch of analog guages in the stock car, but no speedometer!

There was a C-17 there, but it wasn't open for visitors yet when I was passing through.

A closeup of the C-17s' huge engines.

The E-6B Mercury 'Tacamo' is an unusual plane in attendance. It serves as a communications relay and airborne command post for fleet ballistic missile subs, ICBMs, and strategic bombers.

Nice looking T-28 Trojan on static display.

A Spitfire (replica I believe).

Mitsubishi A6M Zero from the CAF.

C-130H3 from the Alaska National Guard.

Being early, there were no long lines (yet) for the cockpit viewing.

The Alaska C-130 had a huge internal fuel tank, for extra range. It also has the ability to refuel other planes and helicopters in mid-flight with refueling drogues.

The Navy's MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter flown by HSC-3 Merlins out of San Diego.

An unusual camo pattern F/A-18 Hornet. It would fly a jaw dropping demonstration later on.

With wing tips folded, I can't help but be reminded of the 'walk like an Egyptian' song. If you know what I'm talking about, you must be old like me!

An Calstar MD Explorer air ambulance helicopter was on hand - just in case.

The Canadians brought their CF-18, but did not fly a demo. Earlier in the year, there was a mishap with a different CF-18 where the pilot had to eject mere moments before the plane hit the ground. The pilot suffered back injury due to the ejection, and CF-18 demos were cancelled for the rest of the year.

A Coast Guard C-130 Herc out of Sacramento.

Speaking of Coast Guards, this USCG Dolphin out of San Francisco drops in before the show starts.

A couple of supersized orange lawn darts inside the Coast Guard C-130!

Rhode Island Air Guard brought out their C-130J, which has these cool 6 bladed props.

The Canadians brought out a few other planes, including this BAE Hawk trainer.

The Marines had a big show at Miramar the same weekend, so not much of a presence at this show. There was one Ch-46 Sea Knight helicopter there though.

The Marines flew it in from Edwards AFB. I was surprised to hear there were Marines at Edwards!

A nice looking Beechcraft T-6 Texan II.

In addition to planes and helicopters, there were a few classic cars on display as well.

Smoke-N-Thunder Jetcar!

The muscle of the jetcar is the Westinghouse J34-48 jet engine.

Imagine sitting in that tiny roll cage, immediately in front of that roaring afterburning engine jetting from 0 to 400mph in 9 seconds! Takes more than a bit of nerve I'd say.

The ever awe inspiring A-10 Warthog and its 30mm Avenger canon.

It's not 'exactly' nose art - more like hidden access panel art. Still, it's very tongue in cheek funny! In case you can't see the details, it's a nice looking lady dressed in a potatoe sack for a dress, holding a bag full of 30mm shells. Idaho Air National Guard - Idaho Potatoes... what else is in Idaho? :-)

Sadly, the A-10 was static display only. They're awesome to watch in the air though!

The Air Force had a different supercar this year - based on a Mustang, and featured on MTV's Pimp My Ride.

The spokesmodel was happy to pose for me, in the genuine F-16 ejection seat. Well, who needs airbags if you could punch out! Well, I'm sure the ejection rockets have been removed...

I believe that's Kent Carlomagno, owner and pilot of the Yak-11 'Blyak', posing with a couple of models.

The spinner matches the lipstick!

Show starts off with the Canadian National Anthem and a parachute flag jump.

Followed by the Star Spangled Banner.

Coming in for an upright landing.

Spencer Suderman in his Meteor Pitts puts on a show.

Which got 'interrupted' by Kent Pietsch and his Interstate Cadet. Flying a comedy routine, he scrapes the ground with his left wing tip, after having lost his right aileron.

Of course, it takes great skill to fly funny/dangerous without actually losing it!

It was the first time I'd seen the P-38 'Thoughts of Midnite' fly. It has lovely noseart by the way (can't see it in this shot though)!

The F-15E strike Eagle demo starts out by buzzing the crowd from behind with afterburners and inverted! Wow.

The Strike Eagle (or Mudhen) has all sorts of power on tap - especially when in a 'clean' configuration.

Some nice vapor action in the moderately humid air.

The Eagle used a large chunk of sky, as it flexed its afterburning thrusters.

A thrilling display of power and poise.

Making his own little cloud in this high G turn.

Awesome high speed pass!

Just loving it!!

The F-15E then hooked up with the P-38 for the Heritage flight.

Very impressive to see the old WWII twin engined fighter flying so closely with its modern day counterpart.

One last pass by the pair before they split up.

'Thoughts of Midnite' makes one last relatively low pass.

Followed behind by the F-15, going considerably faster!

As an added bonus, the F-15 turned around, and made ANOTHER high speed photo pass. Can't get enough of that - especially with the vapor bonus that day!

Soon after, it was the Hornet demo. Unlike the Air Force Fighters, the Navy was allowed to operate their jets at Salinas airport. Here's the F/A-18 at takeoff.

Runway minimum for the Navy F-18 is 5000'. Airforce requirements for the F-15 and F-16 is 7000'. Salinas runway is in between at 6000'. This sadly means showgoers miss out on the AF take offs and landings, plus the Thunderbird ground show.

Like the F-15, the Hornet is really good at making clouds!

The vapor action added alot of excitment to the routine.

Here he is pulling up hard.

Some of his passes were nice and close!

Highly banked, the wings aren't generating too much lift.

That Camo looks great on the Hornet though! First time I'd seen this aircraft at a show.

Pushing the plane even faster, he forms this amazing Prandtl-Glauert singularity - right below the speed of sound, in the transonic region, and he's doing it while banked!

My nicest vapor cone shot yet!

The Hornet does a touch a go to simulate a missed wire on landing.

There were some low clouds/fog on the horizon, which makes lighting difficult sometimes.

Really need that blue sky to see those elusive vapor cones!

Taking off is 'Double Trouble Two' - a P-51D Mustang. Strangely enough, there are 2 'Double Trouble Two's. One on the East Coast and one on the West.

Kent Pietsch takes to the sky again, this time flying the smallest aircraft carrier act.

Three attempts to land on the RV carrier in the high crosswinds, and he nails it on the 3rd try!

A pair of F-5s from NAS Fallon do a flyby.

NAS Fallon is home to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center - which is the successor to TopGun.

These F-5s are used as aggressor aircraft - which explains the red star and camo markings.

'Oh s**t there's two of them! MIG-28's! No one's been this close before!'... yeah, you know where that came from! 'Talk to me Goose!' :-)

The Horsemen fly a pair of P-51s in close formation aerobatics.

My main camera was starting to flake, so not too many good shots of them. I do like the background on this pass though.

Here's Bill Braack firing things up in his Smoke-N-Thunder jetcar.

Here he is racing the Pitts biplane.

Of course, Bill wins. He (almost) always wins! :-)

Mike Goulian puts on a tight act with his Extra 300SHP.

Corkscrewing through the sky in his agile little plane.

Making a nice close pass.

Kent has a 3rd act with his cadet - this time as a glider.

Making aerobatic loops and turns starting from high up, Kent magically handles strong crosswinds to bring his plane down to stop exactly at the outstretched palm of the announcer!

Some of the Thunderbird ground coordinators and announcer fly in to setup for the T-bird show.

They needed to fly in because the Thunderbirds have to take off and land from a different airport (Monterey).

Prior to the Thunderbirds show, the Monster trucks go about wowing the audience! Here's 'The Patriot' powering itself over a couple of crushed cars.

Throwing up a bunch of dirt as it does some donuts! The monster trucks have 4WD with front and rear steering.

Driver of 'The Patriot' waving to the crowd.

Next is 'Iron Outlaw' catching some air. I initially mistook the 'O' for an 'n' - which I though was kind of funny.

Last but not least, was the World Champion 'Bounty Hunter' Monster truck.

He put on quite the show, flying, bouncing, and making wheelies! Those monster trucks are way loud too - in an awesome sort of way.

Need lots of power to make it stand up like that!

It's ok no F-16s around to worry about FOD. :-)

Bill Cornick and Spencer Suderman do a aerobatic race - which is a set routine of 'tricks' they need to perform. First to finish wins.

Bill wins this round.

Before the main event, the induction of new Air Force recruits.

Then, it's the Thunderbirds (sans ground show)! They start off by flying in formation from behind the audience to the front.

Having switched to my older camera as backup - some shots don't come quite as easily. Also, much of the action is very far out - due to the runway setup.

Thunderbird 5 flies inverted over 6.

Here are the solos crossing after overflying the audience from behind.

Diamond pass.

And the shot that I live for (it's an exageration I know) - the SNEAK PASS!

As always, it was close, fast and LOUD! Got some nice shots of it this go around.

5 ship formation looping downwards.

The lead solo starting the impressive 2 mile veritical climb.

Topping off way up there. This is using my lens at max 500mm setting.

Line abreat formation.

The solo breaks off to loop on the right side, while the 4 ships loop to the left.

Where they cross again at show center.

Anbother surprise as a solo rockets by loudly close overhead.

T-birds in their normal 4 ship diamond.

Headshot view coming around.

The solos pass to rejoin was another loud surprise as they rocketed by slightly behind the audience!

In a full 6 ship formation.

Standard T-bird shot.

Making a wide loop.

An inverted look.

Starting their bomb-burst.

A little different show ending, since they're not landing here.

Instead, the diamond makes one final pass.

That's all folks!

After the show, we slowly make our way back to the car. Stopping to admire the P-38 and the nice noseart.

Double Trouble Two getting some fuel.

The airport is open for general aviation, and this family is outta here!

And here's that Rhode Island ANG Hercules.

Unlike the first picture, this time the Monster truck is mobbed by kids and fans. Fun times!