California Capitol Airshow 2009

Photo Gallery

Sacramento Mather Airport (tehnically in Rancho Cordova, CA) held its 2009 California Capitol Airshow in uncharacteristically overcast skies. Due to the bright white clouds, shooting conditions were very challenging. Also, the heat and humidity created a lot of shimmer closer to the ground - making far away low shots all but unusable. On the plus side, because of th high humidity, there was lots of vapor action!

I was only able to make it for the Sunday show, where I got to watch some great performances by the Patriots, F-18 demo, F-22 demo, P-38 Glacial Gal, and the Air Force Thunderbirds. There were a host of civilian aerobatic acts as well as a couple of runs by the Air Force Reserve Jet car.

Used a Nikon D300 w/ 70-300mm VR lens, and a Nikon D200 w/ 18-105mm VR lens. - Bernard Zee

Mather had a nice range of static displays including this AT-6 trainer.

Jumping right into the artistic portion of the program, here's a shot of the C-130J 6 bladed composite scimitar propeller.

I would have loved to catch the helicopter in the air! It's a S-64 Air-crane Helitanker. Meant to fight fires, it can carry 2650 gallons of water/fire retardant.

Here's a look at the inside of the Sikorsky S-64. Lots of dials and buttons!

Also on static display was a Coast Guard C-130.

The Coast Guard C-130 is based out of Sacramento. Love that Yosemite Sam logo!

Beale brought a U-2 Dragon Lady to the show, as well as several T-38 Talons (which flew later on).

Air men were on hand to talk about the U-2 capabilities and its mission.

The P-38 'Glacier Girl' has one of the more remarkable recovery stories.

On July 15, 1942, weather problems forced a flight of 6 P-38s and 2 B-17s to crash land in Greenland. The crews were succesfully rescued, but the planes remained.

50 years later, a slavage team melted through 268 ft of ice (from all the years of accumulated snow) to recover one of the P-38s. Piece by piece, the P-38 was disassembled and brought to the surface. The 0.50 cal machine guns and 20mm canon (seen in the picture) were found to be still in good working condition!

The story of the Glacier Girl recovery and restoration is an amazing one, and makes that plane special in the hearts of many.

Close up of a hoist winch on one of the CHP helicopters on display.

Looking very similar to a T-38 trainer, this F-5 fighter is used for U.S. adversary training. Remember the movie Top Gun?

Here's another look at the F-5.

The Navy flew a couple of SH-60 SeaHawks up for the show.

Being so close to Sacramento, Travis AFB send quite a few of their big planes to the show - including this C-5 Galaxy.

That is one huge engine!

One of the Sacramento mounted police poses in front of the big transport. Noticed that a lot of kids (mostly girls) liked to pet the horse!

It's the Air Force Supercar! I believe it was featured on MTV's 'Pimp My Ride' show.

This lovely spokesperson gave me some information on the car, but I forgot to get her name... darn!

I always look forward to the F-22 Raptor demonstration.

Such interesting lines on the plane.

Also scheduled to fly was a F-18 Hornet demonstration.

Here's a C-17 Globemaster from Travis AFB, looking very round.

Painted in all black, these T-38s are from Beale AFB.

I believe this is a KC-10 Extender, also from Travis.

Also on display were a pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons. An F-15 with an open cockpit can be seen behind the F-16.

A C-130 full of jumpers take off in preparation of the show start.

The Air Force Thunderbird's F-16s all lined up.

A pair of parachuters fall to earth while a biplane circles to the sounds of the National Anthem to signal the start of the air show.

A pair of cadets salute during the National Anthem.

Gene Soucy flies the Grumman Showcat - which is modified from a Ag-Cat agricultural aircraft. It's a nice routine, but I think uses too much smoke - which completely obscures the stage after a couple of passes.

A North American T-28 Trojan also flew a few passes.

Sacramento Metro Fire flies their copter 1 at the airshow.

Copter 1 is a UH-1 Huey modified for fire fighting.

A Coast Guard C-130 does a single high speed fly by. I've only ever seen the Coast Guard show off their C-130 at this airshow.

VFA-125 Hornet Tactical Demonstration Team flies the F/A-18C, seen here taking off.

The F-18 generates some nice vapor action in the relatively humid air.
Click the audio play button (might need to do it twice) to hear the awesome energy in the Hornets' high speed pass!

The Hornet leaves a nice vapor trail as it starts its minimum radius turn.

A longer lens would be nice...

Tim Decker flies the S-2B Pitts and put on quite the show!

Here's Tim corkscrewing his way upwards.

Tim shares the airspace with Dan Buchanan, doing a miscommunication skit.

Dan's flight in the hang glider was cut short due to the strong winds blowing at the time.

Kent Pietsch flies the Interstate Cadet in a comedy routine. Takes a lot of skill to fly like he's 'out of control' (without crashing, that is)!

Here's Melissa Andrejewski flying the Edge 540. The announcer used a different last name, which I pressume means she got married!

Bill Braack drives the Air Force Reserve Jet car, which can hit 400mph in 8 seconds!

A shot of a C-130 Hercules taking off.

The Fry's Patriots Team take to the sky.

The Patriots fly the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros.

With their 4 ship jet formations, they put on a spectacular show! As a civilian act, they put on a better show than a lot of countries do!

A C-17 takes off to start its demonstration routine.

Photographing the C-17 is the only time I didn't wish I had more 'zoom'!

The plane is pretty big, and amazingly nimble.

The C-17 short take off and landing capabilities were showcased there.

Next up were the Fry's Patriot team.

I believe the Patriot team is unique in that they are the only civilian demonstration team using jets. Flying 4 L-39's, they put on a dazzling show!

Not only do they fly low and fast, they do it close to the audience too!

This merge is just crazy. Not only is it close to the crowds, it is also done very low to the ground!!

The more I see of the Patriot team's performance, the more impressed I am.

Here's another low and fast pass.

I don't think it's just an optical illusion - they really are flying VERY close together.

One of their signature passes with the red, white, and blue smoke.

A parting shot of the Patriots.

Here's Kent Pietsch about to land on the world's smallest aircraft carrier, in some tricky wind conditions too!

Here's Rob 'Fang' Hutchinson climbing out of his L-39.

Paul 'Sticky' Strickland. Would love to hear the story on how he got his callsign!

The Fry's Patriot pilots greeting each other after another spectactular show.

Up next was a wingwalking act.

Gene Soucy is piloting the Showcat, while Teresa Stokes is hanging on outside the plane.

Lots of smoke hanging about in the air - hard to get a clear shot.

Here are the Patriot Team pilots signing autographs.

A flight of four T-38 Talons from Beale AFB do a few passes.

That's Gene Soucy.

The T-38 was the world's first supersonic trainer, and is still used in that role today.

The top plane is starting to peel off from the rest of the formation.

The P-51 Mustang prepares to take off for the Legacy flight.

That's Steve Hinton in the F-86 Sabre jet.

Here's the magnificent F-22 Raptor taxiing out!

It's thrust vectoring nozzles can be seen in this rear view shot.

The F-22 can do it all. Fast, powerful, and stealthy - there is nothing that's in its league.

The big bonus at this show was the fabulous vapor show due to the high humidity.

While other parts of the country may see this all the time, it is very unusual for the West coast shows (that I've been able to go to)!

Yeah baby! I love this shot! Really conveys a sense of speed and power.

The Raptor wows the crowd with it's fantastic acceleration, turning, and climbing abilities.

On this high speed pass, 'beards' of vapor form on the underside of the F-22 as it streaks by. Shame about the white out (clouds) conditions behind it though.

Here we catch a hint of blue skies - which allow the vapor trails to be nicely seen.

As the plane starts to pull up, more vapor forms in the low pressure area above the wings.

The F-22 join with the P-51 and F-86 for the legacy flight.

These 3 planes represent the pinnacle of fighter aircraft technology for their respective time periods.

A last pass by the Raptor before landing.

One of the earliest jet fighters in front of one of the newest.

We really should have 3 times the number of F-22's, but budget concerns unfortunately won't let that happen.

Here's the Air Force Reserves Jet car out again for another race!

You can hear the jet car's Afterburner going off as short burst of static sounding 'whoosh', 'whoosh' towards the end of the above sound clip.

This time, it's with Tim Weber, and the Geico Extra 300.

Once again, too much smoke in the air. Hard to get a clear shot! The Jet car on afterburners is an awesome sight though!

Here's Tim Weber flying sideways with no lift!

What a treat to have the Glacier Girl do a demonstration flight.
Click play button to hear the wonderful sounds of the P-38 at takeoff.

The front landing gear has already fully retracted in this shot.

By the way, that's Steve Hinton - a legend in the Warbird community, flying the P-38 Glacier Girl.
Here's a sound clip of the P-38 in one its passes.

The P-51 Takes off too, I believe on its way to the Reno air show.

Here's the Mustang at its closest point to the crowd.

Another shot of the Fry's Patriots L-39 jets.

The main attraction takes to the skies.

The Air Force Thunderbirds fly the Lockeed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Also affectionately called the 'Viper', and not so affectionetely the 'Lawn Dart'.

Should be a lot of vapor action, but really hard to see it due to those darn white cloulds in the back!

Thankfully, there were still a few patches of blue for some of the shots.

Challenging lighting for sure.

Would have been some cool contrails in this shot, but hard to see white on white!!

Thunderbird 5 flies inverted close to #6.

Come to think of it, this is the only chance I'd get to see the T-birds this year.

Here are the opposing solos crossing, against a flat white background.

What's this? It's the 'trail to diamond' formation. This is the cue to...?

Look out for the SNEAK PASS!!!!

And what a glorious pass it was! It was sneaky, soundless in its approach, CLOSE IN, and super LOUD!!! Love it, love it, love it!

That's followed by the high alpha pass - which was sort of the opposite of the sneak pass. Super slow, barely hanging in the air!

Here he puts on the burners to start to gain some speed.

Here's a 4 ship dirty pass (with the landing gears down).

A 5 ship formation at the bottom of a loop.

One good thing about Mather airport is that there is a lot of room for the crowds to spread out and get an unbostructed view.

The clouds were doing interesting things at this point, as rain clouds started to move in.

I must say, I really do enjoy watching the Thunderbirds once they get into the air. (The run up though, takes an aweful long time!)

Here the opposing solos kick it into AB to join up with the main formation.

All 6 doing a loop.

The solos in another signature Thunderbird pass.

Here they are breaking for landing.

Isn't this cool? They lined up PERFECTLY after landing.

Here are the 2009 Thunderbird pilots after another successful show!

Majo Sean Gustafson (Thunderbird #4) greeting the crowd and signing autographs.

Flying Lead Solo (Thunderbird #5) is Major T. Dyon Douglas.

An F-18 in aggressor colors was open for cockpit tours.

A F-15 Strike Eagle with a nice loadout of bombs and missiles. Little kids couldn't resist playing with the weapons!

Here's a wider view of the F-15E Strike Eagle, affectionately called the 'mud hen'.

I believe 'Roxy' was one of the Eagle pilots.

That's all folks! Hope you liked the show, I sure did! Thanks again to all the men and women of the U.S. military for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifices to keep our country safe!