2014 Event Review

The Exchange Club of Redding's Air Show 2014, September 27-28, 2014
Location: Redding Municipal Airport, Redding, California
Admission: $17 for adults, $5 for children (6-11)
Parking: Free. Preferred parking $15.
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 8.5
 
Snowbirds
The Canadian Snowbirds

The Redding Airshow, small as it is, has managed to attract a jet team for 19 out of the last 21 shows. But this year’s appearance by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds was an on-again, off-again scheduling rollercoaster. The Snowbirds announced in December 2012 that they would be appearing this year, a schedule which was reaffirmed at ICAS in December 2013. However, in January of this year, budget constraints led to the cancellation of all US appearances. The RCAF CF-18 Demonstration Team was to take the place of the Snowbirds. However, in February the Snowbirds were on again. And that’s how Redding became one of only a handful of US airshows to host the Snowbirds and the only US show to feature both the Snowbirds and CF-18.

The air show took place over the weekend of September 27-28 at Redding’s Municipal Airport. In addition to the Canadian jets, a number of warbirds and aerobatic performers filled the skies of Northern California. On the ground were more aircraft on static display, including another Canadian visitor, the RCAF T-6 Texan II, (T-6 Harvard II in Canada) along with vintage military vehicles and a classic car show. Rain earlier in the week had deposited snow on Mt Shasta and Lassen Peak, providing a beautiful backdrop to the day’s flying. The gates opened at 0800 leaving plenty of time for visitors to position themselves along the flightline and check out all of the static aircraft and vehicles. Photographers had the option of purchasing a photo pass which allowed entry an hour earlier than general admission and also included entry into a photo pavilion located on the front line. For the first time, reserved seating as well as a reserved seating area with catered food and drinks (Flight Deck) was available for purchase. Announcer Steve Stavrakakis and Air Boss Willie Turner did a great job throughout the show, keeping the spectators informed and entertained. They handled both planned interruptions (the arrival and departures of SkyWest commercial flights) and unplanned disruptions (USFS smoke jumpers departing to fight a wildfire) in style.

The airshow began with a parachutist bringing in the flag shortly after noon. John Collver started off the day’s flying in his AT-6 Texan “War Dog.” Julie Clark followed in her T-34 Mentor, with red, white and blue smoke trailing behind her. Greg Colyer upped the tempo, flying a fast routine in his T-33 Shooting Star. Then it was time for the warbirds. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Aviation Outreach Program, now in its twelfth year, participates in airshows throughout the country, using a World War II era B-25 bomber to increase public awareness of disabled veterans. “Old Glory” was on static display during the morning at the DAV Flight Team display and now took to the skies. It put on a number of passes. It soon attracted the attention of the Commemorative Air Force’s A6M3 Zero, which performed several strafing runs on the Mitchell. Soon enough the CAF’s F6F Hellcat was airborne and after a spirited dogfight managed to “down” the Zero. A formation flight by all three of the Pacific Theater warbirds thrilled the crowds. Steve Hinton later flew a solo demonstration in the P-38J Lightning “23 Skidoo.” Jacquie Warda put on an amazing demonstration in her Extra 300, showing what is possible in an aircraft designed especially for aerobatic flight. All eyes were on her bright red plane as she crisply and energetically went through her routine.

The highlights of the show, and what many had travelled a long distance to see, were the Canadians. Captain Adam Runge started it off in the CF-18. Rotating so sharply on takeoff that he almost banged the cans on the runway, “Manik” kept pushing the envelope throughout his show. His high-speed passes, high-g turns and rolls showed off all aspects of the beautifully decorated airframe. Each year’s theme inspires a new paint scheme. “To the Stars – Fuelled by Legacy” celebrates the 90th anniversary of the RCAF. The Snowbirds then took off in sections of three, forming up and performing their system checks in the distance. Saturday’s blue skies and puffy white clouds formed the perfect backdrop for the brightly painted red and white Tutors. The nine pilots performed a variety of maneuvers in various combinations of aircraft, always smoothly transitioning from one pattern to the next. Saturday’s performance was interrupted by the launch of a US Forest Service Sherpa carrying smoke jumpers to fight a wildfire, but the action picked up smoothly as soon as the box was clear again. The crowd clearly enjoyed the performance, cheering wildly during many of the high-action maneuvers such as the Lag Back Cross, but also enjoying the graceful nine-ship formation transitions. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tutor, and it just keeps getting better with age. After their performance the pilots came forward to the flightline to answer questions and sign autographs.

Thanks to the Exchange Club of Redding, the show organizers, sponsors and all of the staff and volunteers for making this such an enjoyable airshow and to Michael Burke for arranging the media access.

Air show performers:
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds Demonstration Team
RCAF CF-18 Demonstration Team
John Collver, AT-6 Texan “War Dog” Aerobatics
Greg “Wired” Colyer, Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star “Ace Maker”
DAV B-25J Mitchell “Old Glory”
F6F Hellcat, A6M Zero Dogfight
Jacquie Warda, Extra 300 Aerobatics
Steve Hinton, P-38 Lightning “23 Skidoo” Aerobatics
Julie Clark, T-34 Mentor Aerobatics
Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for The Aviation Magazine

Click on image to start a slide show

CF-18 Demo Team
 
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