BZ's 2011 Salinas Air Show

Photo Gallery

I was really on the fence for the Salinas Air Show - for the life of me, I couldn't make up my mind whether I would go or not. So Sunday morning rolls around, and I decided YES!, I would go - but I wanted to be shooting from the fence right outside the airport (for that different look, you know). Plus I'm a cheap bastard! :-)

I had hemmed and hawed so much, that by the time I left home - I would arrive there just as the show starts. Unfortunately, where I wanted to go was completely closed off to traffic!! AHHHHHH!!! I was being re-routed, driving around in circles. Of course, there were tons of traffic as well. Just as I was about to toss in the towel and just pay the parking and admission fee, I found a location that was opposite where I had initially wanted to be, but was in-line with the passes. Good enough!

Of course the show had already started, and I was just in time to catch some of the Super Hornet's act. Sure enough, the shots looked a lot different than what I would get sitting in the Grand Stands. Lighting was a bit rough where I was at, and when I tried to walk further down the road so that the sun was more favorable - I was shooed back by the police. Might have gotten away with it too if a truck hadn't pulled over where I was at and just parked - drawing attention to me as well. Turned out they have to keep a huge area 'sanitized' for certain acts, as a buffer zone. Between those acts, they do open the road for traffic - but they're not supposed to stop on the side of the road.

So it was an adventure. Didn't get as many shots as I would have liked (due in large part to my late start). On the plus side, it was quite easy to go through them! Star attractions included the Super Hornet demo team, F-16 Viper West demo team, Sean Tucker in the Oracle Challenger, Red Bull helicopter and the Red Bull flying squirrels (they're really not called that), Tora! Tora! Tora!, and the Canadian Snowbirds.

Nikon D300 w/ 150-500mm Sigma OS lens.
- Bernard Zee

F-18F from the Super Hornet demo team makes for some very exciting eye candy!

Especially on his high speed pass! He actually made a vapor cone around this time, but I didn't catch that too well.

The air is humid enough for some nice vapor action though.

See the heat distortions from the engine thrust here.

The Super Hornet joins up with a F4-U Corsair for the heritage flight.

The red bull helicopter did some trick aerobatics.

Most of the time, he was pretty far out from my position though. So not too many shots.

A big draw for Salinas was Tora! Tora! Tora!

These are replica Japanese Zeroes, Kates, and Val bombers out to re-enact the Dec 7th attack on Pearl Harbor.

Many of these planes were heavily modified to give them the proper 'look'.

Featuring some impressive pyros, these 8 attacking planes went in from different directions providing non-stop action.

Replica Kates were made using the front end of a AT-6 stretched several feet, with the tail of a BT-13 added.

Zeroes are modified from AT-6s.

These planes were originally made in 1968 for the film 'Tora! Tora! Tora!'. They are currently being maintained and flown by the CAF.

Looks like there were 2 Kates a this show. This one carrying a bomb.

This other Kate carrying a torpedo.

Where I was standing, I could sometimes get a nice head-on view of them pulling after their bomb or straffing run.

Got a great close up of this Zero.

The Kates also flew pretty close to where I was.

It's a pretty convincing mock up.

As you can see, they make some pretty low passes with smoke.

Not really in a good position for the pyro though. Oh well, can't have it all!

Got a few exciting shots of the planes turning.

I believe this Kate is carry a replica 800kg armor piecing bomb - which is normally dropped in level flight at high altitude. It was this type of bomb which struck the USS Arizona between the No1 and No2 turrets, and ignited the forward magazine - creating a huge explosion and sinking the ship.

That attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst which propelled the U.S. into WWII.

While it may have been a stunning tactical victory, it only bought Japan a short reprieve to do what they wanted militarily. For missing at Pearl Harbor were all the U.S. carriers, which escaped destruction.

The Pacific war naturally became a matter of control of the seas using carriers and airpower. The bitter battle within the Navy between the battleship faction, and those advocating the use of Naval airpower became academic. Carriers and the awesome offensive power projection by their air wings became the new centers of gravity for the Navy (and still do, to this day).

Each side sought to knock out the other sides' carriers, leading to such famous engagements like the Battle of the Coral Sea, and Battle of Midway. In the end though, the industrial and military might of the U.S. prevailed and the Japanese were defeated.

In the center of this shot is the replica Val dive bomber, which started out as a Vultee BT-13.

Unfortunately, the Val's flight path during the attack runs were too far from where I was at. Didn't get any shots of it.

Flying for a bit afterwards was Red Bulls' aerobatic plane.

My favorite at the show had to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Here he's flying low, and directly over me - which you'd normally not see when on the show grounds.

The Viper demo team is from Hill AFB. Here pulling some Gs and making a lot of noise!

The Viper in the knife edge pass.

A heavily back lit shot, but I really like the effect.

Here's the F-16 showing some power moves. Note the vapor mustache coming off its wings.

Another pretty cool shot. It was great to get buzzed by the F-16 repeatedly!

Oh my gosh, this was the awesome high speed pass. MAN, was he moving! Super close and loud too!! Happy at least one shot turned out well.

Would have loved to get some closer shots as he crossed, but it was too close and he was going too fast!

That little red biplane is of course, Sean Tucker in the Oracle Challenger!

Not many shots of Sean, as he keeps his show quite close to show center.

The Red Bull Flying Squirrels!!

No, that's not their name - just something I made up. I believe the Wingsuit skydivers are part of the Red Bull Skydive Team.

The wing suits give the sky divers the ability to really fly through the air while free-falling. They're still falling, but have a glide ratio of about 2.5:1. That is, go foward 2.5 ft for every ft down. Crazy stuff!

It's the Red Bull Extra 300S hiding itself in smoke. The plane had buzzed around the skydivers when they were flying down in formation.

A few more loops, and he was back to base.

The main draw at Salinas were the Canadian Snowbirds demonstration team.

The Snowbirds fly 9 CT-114 Tutors in series fo close formations and aerobatic stunts.

The red planes were a nice contrast to the grey cloudy skies at that time of day.

The CT-114 Tutor was used by Canada as a primary jet trainer until 2000.

While no longer used as a trainer, it's still being flown by the Snowbirds.

Once in a while, they fly close enough to make for some interesting shots.

This one is like you're flying formation with them!

Close up of one of the solos, after making an opposing pass.

The Snowbirds fly a relatively quiet routine, due to the 'gentle' nature of the trainers.

Max speed of around 486 mph, the Tutors don't tear up the skies like the F-18s or F-16s on afterburners do.

But they fly lots of planes in tight formations, which is no small feat. Here they look like Escher's tessellations.

Once in a while, a plane would fly lesiurely by. :-)

But I wasn't really in a good position to see too much of their show. Though sometimes, I can get an unusual angle on things.

These 2 are flying canopy to canopy while rotating around each other.

Back together in formation again.

I've heard the Snowbirds described as a ballet.

In which case, perhaps the Blues and Tbirds are more like cirque du soleil! :-)

All too soon, it's time to go. Great show guys!