2015 Event Review

Intel Oregon International Air Show, July 17-19, 2015
Location: Hillsboro, OR
Admission: $25 adults, $5 children 5-11, free for active-duty military and veterans     
Parking: Several lots, either free or $5, VIP parking available for higher fee.
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 9
 
MCAS Yuma base commander
Show layout
Record crowds were greeted by near-record heat at this year's Intel Oregon International Air Show. Headlining the show were the Navy's Blue Angels, back for the first time since 2008. The Air Force's Viper East Tactical Demonstration Team added additional jet noise and precision flying to the lineup. The Bremont Horsemen brought three F-86 Sabrejets to the show and Greg Colyer added his T-33 Shooting Star to the vintage jet list. Throw in a few additional warbirds, two parachute demonstration teams and a world-class set of aerobatic performers and you had action hotter than the afternoon temperatures.

Like many air shows on the West Coast this year, the weekend started off with an evening show on Friday night. The gates opened at 6PM and featured a variety of performances culminating in a fireworks presentation after dark. The gates opened for the day shows at 9AM, with flying starting at 11AM. This gave visitors enough time to get settled in, view the aircraft on static display (or the vintage automobiles in the car show), buy some souvenirs at the vendors' booths or food and drinks at the many food stands. Free water was available from water buffalos situated throughout the grounds, and lines were understandably long as temperatures neared triple digits. Additional water supplies, as well as misting stations under which to cool off were added on Sunday in response to demand.

The Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team, from the US Air Force Academy, kicked off the airshow with each jumper trailing a different flag under his canopy. They were circled on their descent by John Klatt and Michael Wiskus who then performed teasers of their full routines. Kent Pietsch continued with the first of his three demonstrations of the day. He started with his energy management routine, continued with his comedy routine and ended by landing atop the "world's smallest aircraft carrier," a pickup truck. Vicky Benzing put on a very nice demonstration of the aerobatic capabilities of the Boeing Stearman by putting her bright red biplane through a series of precision maneuvers. She was followed later by Jacquie B, who stepped it up with a faster-paced, crisper performance in her red Extra 300. Bill Sheppard continued the crimson aerobatics with a very nice series of passes in the red-tailed P-51C Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen" and Greg Anders performed a similar warbird aerobatic display in the P-51D Mustang "Val-Halla" in bright red Korean War USAF markings.
There was plenty of jet action at this airshow, and Greg Colyer started it off nicely in his T-33 Shooting Star "Ace Maker II." The Bremont Horsemen followed with a superb performance in their F-86 Sabrejets. All four of these vintage jets wore Korean War markings. The natural metal finish and bright yellow stripes against the bright blue Oregon sky made for some nice photographic opportunities. Steve Stavrakakis flew his IAR-823 in a beautiful tribute to the Vietnam War veterans. Local talent Renny Price put on an impressive aerobatic display in his Sukhoi SU-29. He concluded his performance with a low photo pass along the flight line, punctuated by a massive Wall of Fire just as he passed show center. Dan Buchanan slowed things down a bit in his hang glider, although he was buzzed by Kent Pietsch, whose prop relieved him of several of his streamers. It was all in good fun, though. The Lucas Oil Skydivers thrilled the crowd with their extremely rapid descent and swooping landings. Michael Wiskus put the bright red Lucas Oil Pitts biplane through his full demonstration, concluding with an inverted ribbon cut. John Klatt would finish up the aerobatic flying later in the day in the Air National Guard MX-S. Then it was back to the jets, although in a most remarkable circumstance. Bob Carlton has equipped his Super Salto sailplane with a jet engine mounted directly over the wing. He uses this to fly to altitude, after which he performs a standard glider demonstration. However, just as it appears that he has run out of altitude and airspeed he fires up the jet engine to begin the second half of his show.
But if it's real jet noise you want, you have to bring in the military. And Captain Craig Baker brought it. Staging out of nearby Portland International Airport, "Rocket" roared in from behind the crowd, the noise from the F-16's engine immediately capturing everyone's attention. He put on a full tactical demonstration, making extensive use of the afterburner and coaxing plumes of vapor from the cloudless sky. After his final high-speed dedication pass Captain Baker joined up with Tommy "Limiter" Williams in the F-86E "Hell-er Bust" and Greg Anders in the P-51D "Val-Halla" for the Heritage Flight. The formation's three passes afforded the multitude of photographers plenty of opportunities for some very nice images. The bright red markings of the Mustang and brilliant yellow stripes of the Sabrejet contrasted beautifully against the bright blue sky.
The Blue Angels finished the show in spectacular fashion. First, of course, the Marines in Fat Albert put on a demonstration of the C-130's flying capabilities, pushing the envelope in every category during the eight and a half minute flight. In command of the Hercules was the first female Blue Angel pilot, Captain Katie Higgins. Soon enough, though, the six bright blue and gold F/A-18 jets taxied out to begin their impressive demonstrations of precision formation flying and thrilling solo crosses. Saturday's diamond formation featured the A, B and C models of the venerable Hornet, with a D model held in reserve. Once back on the ground the Blue Angels pilots proceeded to the crowd line to sign autographs and answer questions from their fans.
Announcer Rob Reider kept the audience informed and entertained and Air Boss Ralph Royce kept the action flowing smoothly and safely. We would like to thank Herb Gillen and Stacey Stathulis for arranging our media access. Bill Braack, who airshow fans know as the pilot of the Smoke-N-Thunder jet car, was named president of the board of directors of the Oregon International Air Show at the end of last year. Kudos to him and his team for another exciting and successful show in his inaugural year and thanks to the many pilots, sponsors, staff and volunteers who made this airshow such a success. The Air Show encourages strong community involvement, with over 1500 volunteers each year contributing to the success of the program. Since 1988 more than one million volunteer hours have been contributed, and more than $1.4 million has been given to local charities and non-profit organizations.
Performers included:

Blue Angels
F-16 Viper East Tactical Demonstration
Heritage Flight: P-51D “Val-Halla”, F-86E “Hell-er Bust”, F-16C
The Bremont Horsemen, 3x F-86 Sabrejet
P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen”
Greg “Wired” Colyer, T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker II”
John Klatt, Air National Guard MX-S Aerobatics
Jacquie B, Extra 300 Aerobatics
Kent Pietsch, Interstate Cadet Aerobatics
Vicky Benzing, Stearman Aerobatics
Renny Price, Sukhoi SU-29 Aerobatics
Michael Wiskus, Pitts Special Aerobatics
Dan Buchanan, Hang Glider Aerobatics
Bob Carlton, Super Salto Jet Glider Aerobatics
Steve Stavrakakis, IAR-823 Aerobatics
U.S. Air Force Academy “Wings Of Blue” Parachute Demonstration Team
Lucas Oil Skydivers Parachute Demonstration Team

Military Aircraft on static display:

United States Air Force T-6A Texan II
Oregon Army National Guard HH-60M Blackhawk
Oregon Army National Guard CH-47F-47 Chinook
Oregon Army National Guard UH-72A Lakota
Oregon Army National Guard RQ-7B Shadow UAV
Oregon Army National Guard HH-60M Blackhawk MEDEVAC
Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle
US Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk

Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for The Aviation Magazine

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