2015 Event Review

Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show, March 28-29, 2015
Location: Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, Tuscaloosa, AL
Admission: $10 at gate, $5 advance; Children 12 and under Free
Parking: Freeoff-site with free shuttle
Value: Good
Rating out of 10: 9
 
Display by the Italians
CAF Gulf Coast Wing’s B-17 Texas Raiders

The 2015 Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show was the fourth time the city has hosted an air show, with previous shows in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Each of the four air shows has featured the U.S. Navy demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, as the headliner act.  The prior three air shows all had free admission but for 2015 there was an admission charge for the first time.  The admission charge didn’t seem to deter attendance as it was reported to have set a record over prior shows with an estimated 110,000 paid attendance and an additional 40,000 people at surrounding locations over the two day weekend.

The show was produced by David Schultz Airshows, LLC, who has produced all of the shows for Tuscaloosa. David Schultz lined up an excellent mix of civilian aerobatic performers with classic warbirds and state of the art active military demonstrations.

The Lucas Oil Skydivers opened the show each day with the customary American Flag jump and the national anthem being played. Aerobatic performances were done by Gary Ward in an MX2 aerobatic aircraft and Rob Holland in an MXS plane. Each performed solo routines and they also performed a joint routine on Saturday. Additional aerobatics were done by Matt Younkin flying a Twin Beech aircraft. Matt's Twin Beech has been specially modified for aerobatic flight. Michael Wiskus was originally scheduled to perform but unconfirmed reports were that he had mechanical issues with his plane's prop, so he didn't perform. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation's Sky Soldiers performed a unique demonstration of the capabilities of the Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter. The two cobra helicopters were painted in a shiny black color with a distinctive Army yellow stripe on the side. The demo included simulated attack scenarios and the now famous 'Cobra Dance', where the two ships go nose to nose and circle around each other. The Sky Soldiers offered spectator rides in one of their Cobra as well as their Huey helicopters throughout the day, except when the Blue Angels were flying.

The other civilian act was Team Aerodynamix. Team Aerodynamix is a ten airplane team of RV-series experimental kit airplanes built by the team members. No two of the planes were painted alike, so their demo was quite colorful. Team Aerodynamix performed a series of formation aerobatics and precision flying routines. Unfortunately during the Sunday performance one of the Team Aerodynamix pilots experienced an in-flight incident that resulted in him having to make an immediate emergency landing. He landed aircraft landed on taxiway delta. He managed to land the plane safely. The in-flight incident is under FAA investigation and specific details were not available for this report.

Two classic warbird bombers performed during the show. The DAV Flight Team presented their B-25 Mitchell Bomber and the CAF Gulf Coast Wing showed off their B-17 Texas Raider aircraft. Both bombers flew independently and made multiple passes, some with bomb bay doors open and others to provide good photographic angles. Doug Matthews flew the F-86 Sabre in the Skyblazers paint scheme. This extremely colorful and patriotic paint scheme jet was very well received by all in attendance. This performance was a nice surprise as it wasn't on the original schedule.

Marine Squadron VMM-263, as known as the Thunder Chickens from MCAS New River, appeared as the Osprey Demo Team flying the MV-22B Osprey. They performed a full demonstration showing the aircraft's ability for STOVL (short take off and vertical landing). The Osprey known as a tilt rotor aircraft transitions in flight to a conventional flight aircraft by tilting the rotors down and turning them into props. The Osprey demo team showed this and also how they can transition back to helicopter style operations to hover or land.

The need for speed and power was fulfilled by the F-22 Raptor Squadron from Langley AFB. The Raptor is an operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The demonstration showcased some of the unique capabilities of this plane including vectored thrust and almost unbelievable ability to make direction changes in very little room. The Raptor concluded the display with an Air Force Heritage flight alongside a veteran P-51 Mustang.

The grounds for the Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show were setup in an L configuration with the aerial performances occurring over the active north-south runway and the static displays along the closed east-west runway. The layout meant that it was a long walk between the aerial viewing areas and the static display areas. Because of hangers and other buildings in the way, much of the aerial display was not viewable from the static display area. There was plenty of time to visit the static displays both before and after the aerial performances so the spectator would not miss out on either one.

There were adequate food vendors and portable rest room facilities. Departure from the show site on Saturday was delayed by a train blocking the rail crossing on the primary exit path from the airport. This delay was out of the show's control and should not be held against them.

 
Performers included:

Blue Angels

F-22 Raptor Demo

USMC MV-22B Osprey Demo Team
Air Force Heritage flight F-22 and P-51 Mustang
DAV Flight Team B-25 Mitchell Bomber
CAF Gulf Coast Wing’s B-17 Texas Raiders
F-86 Sabre
Team Aerodynamix
Army Aviation Heritage Foundation’s Sky Soldiers Cobra and Huey helicopters
Gary Ward -- MX2
Rob Holland -- MXS
Matt Younkin -- Twin Beech aircraft
Static aircraft included:

C-46 Commando                       

AC-47 Spooky                                

C-1 Tracker

T-28B Trojan                                   

T-6 Texan                                         

PT-17 Stearman

Yak-52  
USAF WC-130J Hercules
MIG-17 Fresco and many others....
Report and photography by Clifford Martin for The Aviation Magazine

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Saab Gripen taking off at RIAT
 
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