The last time I saw the Thunderbirds at Hill Air Force Base I was using a Canon Powershot A710 point and shoot camera. I was super excited to finally have a “real” camera to shoot them this time around.
I’ll spare you all the gritty details of waking up early, traffic, parking, waiting in line to tour planes, big umbrellas in your sight line, sunburns and oh wait well…there you go.
It would be an understatement to say that I took a lot of shots, thank goodness for 32GB cards, but what I wouldn’t have given for a D4s and its huge buffer and frame rate. My poor D7000 even in bright sunlight had a tough time keeping focus at times and I missed plenty of shots waiting for that stupid buffer to clear
Also a quick disclaimer on the names of the performers and their aircraft, I’m going off of the online schedule, but I think a few were changed around so please forgive me if there are any errors, if you know what should be corrected please let me know and I’ll fix it.
On with the pictures in chronological order (ish)
Thunderbird parked and waiting.
We arrived plenty early to walk through a few planes before any of the flight demos began.
Looking to the Cockpit of a B-1b Bomber from the hatch behind the front landing gear.(it’s as far as they let us go)
B-1B, KC-10 Extender and C-5A Galaxy.Inside the C-5A Galaxy
A “Naked” Herc
Loved this view from one of its porthole windows.
My kids in the cockpit of a C-130 Hercules.
A-10 Warthog Cockpit
The business end of the A-10 Warthog the mighty GAU-8 “Avenger” 30mm Gatling Cannon.
My daughter was able to talk with a Red Flag Aggressor pilot. Seeing that F-16 cockpt really shows off just how old and tiny those planes really are.
The slightly less mighty, but still lethal M61-A1 Vulcan 20mm Gatling Cannon on the F-16.
Thunderbirds lined up and waiting their turn.
The flight demonstrations began with the US Army’s “Golden Knights” Parachute team
The first flight demo was a threesome flying an MX and Edge 540‘s Pilots listed were Holland, Stein and Chapman.
Next was Mark Peterson in his gorgeous P-51 Mustang (The sexiest looking and sounding plane ever made!) This was the first time I tried to shoot a prop driven plane at a slower shutter speed to get prop blur, so they didn’t come out as sharp as I would have liked as I don’t shoot pan shots often. I definitely need more practice, but I like the blurred propellers more than the frozen ones so I’ll take what I can get.
We’ll see more of the P-51 in the Heritage Flight later.
An airman enjoys the best seat in the house on top of a C-17 Globemaster.
Next up flying was the spritely Pitts of Buck Roetman with lots of flips rolls and stalls and smoke!
Add in a powered Hang Glider piloted by Dan Buchanan and you get a weird aerial ballet
With a blast from the past Ace Maker flew his T-33
Anyone that’s been to an airshow or lives near a municipal airfield has probably heard the unique sound of a Stearman, they’re noisy and slow, but rock steady planes that were used to train thousands of pilots in the 1930’s and 40’s.
This is Gary Rower and his PT-17
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of the airshow, I’ll show some more civilian aerobatics and lots of military ones!