2016 Event Review

Open House & Air Show Joint Base McGuire - Dix - Lakehurst, May 14-15, 2016
Location: Base McGuire - Dix - Lakehurst, Trenton, New Jersey
Admission: Free
Parking: Free
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 8
 

B-2 Spirit

On a beautiful weekend in May, the Joint Base welcomed the USAF Thunderbirds, Breitling Jet Team, GEICO Skytypers and other aerial artists demonstrating their piloting skills and the strength of their machines. This free show was expected to draw nearly 500,000 visitors up from 300,000 in 2014.

Located 18 miles southeast of Trenton, New Jersey, this 42,000 acre base is home to more than 80 mission partners and 40 mission commanders. The base is home to the 87th Air Base Wing responsible for installation management support to 3,933 facilities. More than 44,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen, civilians and their families live and work on and around the base.

The gates opened promptly at 9am and due to the increasingly tense terrorist environment security was extremely tight - the tightest I've ever seen. After going through a metal detector every one of my bags was thoroughly searched and tagged. I was informed that any bag missing its tag would be confiscated.
During the two hour wait before aerial demonstrations began at 11:00am, visitors had the opportunity to get up close to many of our prized aircraft including:

B-1B Lancer - is one of the most intimidating bombers in the world. This aircraft has a top-speed of 1.23 Mach and can carry a payload of 150 tons. C-5 Galaxy - The largest aircraft in our inventory, the C-5 is capable of transporting combatready troops, support and supplies to any location in the world. Only the C-5 can airlift our largest and heaviest weapons and military vehicles. The C-5's has been the backbone of our military for nearly 50 years with its first flight taking place in 1968.

F-22 Raptor - Introduced into our military arsenal in 2005, the fast, agile and stealthy F-22 Raptor is taking over the air superiority role with the Air Combat Command. This $150 million aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence capabilities.

MQ-9 Reaper - Referred to as the "Predator on steroids, the Reaper was introduced in 2007 as the advanced version of the Predator. Used primarily by the USAF, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Royal Air Force, and Italian Air Force, the Reaper is an unmanned, high-altitude aircraft designed to perform a variety of missions such as reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and weapons delivery to scientific research. It can be operated remotely anywhere in the world from its base, Creech AFB, located in Las Vegas.

B-52 Stratofortress - The B-52 has been successfully in service with the USAF since 1955. It's esteemed history includes dropping the first thermonuclear weapon in 1956; setting the 1958 world speed record of 597.675 mph over a 5,000 kilometer closed circuit; setting the world distance record in 1962 by flying unrefueled for 12,532.28 miles. It was operational during the Cold War, Vietnam War, and in 1991 seven B-52's from Barksdale AFB headed to the Persian Gulf, launching 35 cruise misses against key Iraqi targets to initiate Operation Desert Storm. C-130 Hercules - Developed in 1954 by Lockheed Martin, the C-130 is the world's most popular and widely-used turbine-powered heavy transport. It is used by all branches of the U.S. military as well as units in 63 foreign countries. More than 30 versions of the C-130 have been built over the years with sales of over 2,050 aircraft.

At 11:00am flight demonstrations began with the Golden Knights skydiving performance while our National Anthem was playing. After landing successfully on the ground with our American flag in hand a Marine Air-Ground Task Force otherwise known as MAG-TF performed a demonstration of their battle skills. A aerial refueling flyby was performed by a KC-10 Extender and C-17 Globemaster demonstrating how we manage to control the skies by keeping our aircraft where we need them - in the air.

It was a true treat to see the B-2 Spirit fly. Introduced by the USAF in 1997, the B-2 bomber can, with one refueling, reach targets anywhere in the world from its base at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. The B-2's thin, wing shape provides stealth characteristics that allow it to defeat sophisticated radar defenses to reach its targets.

A C-130 Hercules was involved in a personnel air drop demonstration and a C-17 Globemaster performed an assault landing - landing in a 500-ft area on the runway. Since 2003, civilian pilots that make up the Breitling Jet Team have been pleasing crowds with the aerobatic stunts. Based in Dijon, France, the seven pilot team flies L-39 Albatros jets. A fan favorite, the F/A-18F Super Hornet wowed the crowd with its maneuvers. This supersonic strike fighter serves the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force from aircraft carriers and bases ashore. It has a top speed in excess of Mach 1.8 and can carry air-to-air misses and air-to-surface weapons.
The GEICO Skytypers aerobatic team perform stunts using SNJ-2 World War II-era planes. They are called Skytypers because they perform low-level maneuvers while creating aerial smoke messages. In May 2016, they performed a missing man formation at the Jones Beach, New York Air Show for pilot, Bill Gorndon, who died the day before in a P-47 crash into the Hudson River.

And to end the show, the USAF Thunderbirds once again showcased some of our finest Air Force pilots. Operating out of Nellis AFB in Los Vegas, fly F-16 Fighting Falcons (also referred to as Vipers) which were introduced in 1978 as a all-weather multi-role aircraft focusing on air superiority as a fighter with an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment.

Performers included:

USAF Thunderbirds

US ARMY Golden Knights Skydiving Team

B-2 flyby

Marine Air-Ground Task Force

KC-10 Extender

C-17 Globemaster

C-130 Hercules

F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo Team

Breitling Jet Team

GEICO Skytypers Aerobatic Team

B-25J Panchito


Static displays included:

B-1B Lancer

B-52 Stratofortress
F-22 Raptor
MQ-9 Reaper
C-5 Galaxy
C-130 Hercules
C-2 Greyhound and many others...
 
Report and photography by Brian R. Veprek for The Aviation Magazine

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