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2012 Air Shows

Wings Over Houston Air Show, October 27-28, 2012

Location: Ellington Field, Houston, Texas.
Admission: $25 for adults $5 for child, under 6 free. Family packs and advance purchase discounts available.
Parking: Free on-site. Free shuttle bus service from select Park & Ride lots.
The 28th Annual Wings Over Houston Air Show was held October 27-28, 2012 under clear skies and with cool temperatures at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. Presented by the Ghost Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force’s Houston Wing, the Gulf Coast Wing and Tora!Tora!Tora!, this world-class event highlights military aviation both past and present and benefits charitable and non-profit organizations throughout the city. With a very large number of warbirds (including several rare models) flying, the Tora! Tora! Tora! Pearl Harbor re-enactment, two thrilling aerobatic performances, the Osprey and Raptor tactical demos, the ANG jet truck and the Blue Angels, there was something for everybody.
The gates opened promptly at 0800. With close-in parking and efficient security and ticketing at the gates, getting to the flightline quickly to secure a spot along the fence was a breeze. There was a large number of aircraft on static display, with the warbird display at the far right of the showline. This area also served as the hot ramp, so was closed off before flying began, opening up later in the afternoon on Saturday. Getting to see all the aircraft, vendors and display booths before the flying began was a challenge. The RE/MAX Parachute jumpers flew in the flag to start the show at 10:30, followed by a very impressive tactical demo by the MV-22 of VMM-166 “SeaElk”. There was another Osprey on static, attracting long lines of visitors throughout the day. A formation flight of B-25, F4U, P-40, F4F, two Mustangs and a Zero gave a taste of things to come. The A6M2 Zero then put on a very impressive solo aerobatic display, showing how nimble and maneuverable this fighter is. A mock attack on the Mitchell put both of the aircraft through their paces, with the bomber desperately trying to evade the attacking fighter and the Zero going inverted to get the shot. The seven aircraft then made numerous passes, both singly and in formations. This part of the show ended with a solo aerobatic performance by the F7F Tigercat.
The air-raid sirens began to wail as the sky filled with the multitude of Japanese aircraft recreating the attack on Pearl Harbor which launched the US into the Second World War. Soon explosions began to rock the infield with plumes of smoke and fire and fighter and torpedo bombers zoomed in from all directions in a carefully choreographed act. Then came the part of the show which warbird aficionados from all over the world come to Houston to see: the American Airpower Heritage Demo. This year’s flying extravaganza was composed of four parts: Doolittle's Raid, America Trains for War, European Theater, and Naval Aviation / Pacific Theater. The first, featuring three Mitchell bombers (two B-25Js and one rare Marine PBJ) commemorated the 70 th anniversary of the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. Then twenty trainers filled the skies and made numerous passes (see below for the list). The diversity of the types and markings was truly amazing and the organizers are to be commended for assembling such a broad collection and putting them on display. The European Theater display featured a similarly broad selection of fighters and bombers: a B-17 and the three Mitchells were joined by the usual Mustangs, Warhawk and Thunderbolt but also such rare types as the P-63 King Cobra and A-26 Invader. And finally the Naval aircraft put on a fine display. The PBJ remained in the air, joined by no less than seven fighters: three Bearcats, two Corsairs, the Wildcat and the Tigercat. It was a real treat to see both of the Navy’s dive-bombers in the air at the same time: the SBD Dauntless and the SB2C Helldiver which replaced it. An A-1 Skyraider rounded out the field in its ground attack role.
Sean D. Tucker then thrilled the crowds with his amazing aerobatic performance, followed by the RE/MAX parachute team gliding in their squirrel suits before popping their chutes and landing right at show center. David Martin later performed in the Breitling CAP 232.
A QF-4E Phantom II from Holloman AFB made three very nice passes before the F-22 Raptor took to the skies. Maj Henry “Schadow” Schantz really wowed the crowd with his full tactical demonstration. The rare four-ship Heritage Flight featured the Raptor and the Phantom together with the P-51 Mustang “Galveston Gal” and the brightly colored P-47 Thunderbolt “Tarheel Hal.” And then it was time for the headline act, the Blue Angels. Fat Albert, the C-130 support aircraft, started off the show with a 45 degree tactical takeoff, followed by several high speed passes and 60 degree banking turns before ending with a tactical steep-descent landing. With clear skies and unlimited visibility, the Blue Angels were able to put on their full high show. After landing they came to the showline to sign autographs and answer questions from their many fans. The grounds remained open until 6PM, giving attendees more time to view the multitude of aircraft on static display or to visit any of the vendor or exhibitor booths.
Attendance was estimated at 100,000. There were sufficient food booths and bathroom facilities distributed throughout the air show grounds that lines were not an issue, and prices were reasonable. Chalets with premium seating and catered food and drinks were also available. Photographers had the option of purchasing a Sunrise Photo Tour Pass or Photo Pit Pass to gain either early access or elevated risers, tent area, drinking water, and restrooms in a chalet area. The viewing area is west of the 17/35 runway, meaning that the afternoon sun is behind you, making for perfect conditions for photographers. The action, especially taxiing, takes place quite close to the audience; a 300mm lens is sufficient to capture all but the smaller aerobatic planes in detail. Ralph Royce and Rob Reider formed the perfect team of Air Boss and Announcer. Kudos to Ralph for keeping the show right on schedule with so many, and so many different, aircraft in the air at the same time.
ASR Media would like to thank Scott Tims for arranging the media opportunities and for making the air show itself such an enjoyable experience. This premier airshow should be on the must-see list for warbird enthusiasts and general airshow fans alike. See you in Houston in 2013!

Performers included:

  • USN Blue Angels
  • USAF F-22 Raptor Tactical Demonstration, TacDemo
  • USMC MV-22 Osprey VMM-166 “SeaElk”, MCAS Miramar, TacDemo
  • Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • QF-4E Phantom II, 82 ATRS, Holloman AFB, demo
  • USAF Heritage Flight: P-51D Mustang “ Galveston Gal”, P-47 Thunderbolt “Tarheel Hal”, QF-4E Phantom II and F-22 Raptor
  • B-1B flyby (Friday’s rehearsal only)
  • F7F Tigercat “Here Kitty, Kitty!” demo
  • A6M2 Zero demo
  • A-1D (AD4) Skyraider “Marlene Uncle Ho’s Nightmare”
  • A-26 C Invader “Million Airess”
  • B-17G Flying Fortress “ Texas Raiders”
  • B-25J Mitchell x2 “Betty’s Dream”, “Doolittle Raiders Special Delivery”
  • F4F Wildcat
  • F4U-5 Corsair “Annie-Mo”
  • FG-1D Corsair
  • F8F Bearcat x3 204S, Denver 14P, “Tai Wun On”
  • PBJ-1J “Devil Dog”
  • P-40K Warhawk
  • P-47D Thunderbolt “Tarheel Hal”
  • P-51C Mustang “ Tuskegee Airmen”
  • P-51D Mustang x3 “Dakota Kid II/Long Island Kid”, “Little Horse”, “ Galveston Gal”
  • P-63F King Cobra
  • SB2C Helldiver
  • SBD-5 Dauntless
  • David Martin in the Breitling CAP 232
  • Sean D. Tucker in the Oracle Challenger III biplane
  • and many more...

Static displays included:

  • A-10 Thunderbolt II (x2), Whiteman AFB
  • B-52H Stratofortress “Belle Starr”, Barksdale AFB
  • C-5A Galaxy, Lackland AFB
  • C-17 Globemaster III, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  • WC-130J “Hurricane Hunters”
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon, Oklahoma ANG, Tulsa
  • AH-64 Apache, Texas Army National Guard, Ellington Field, Houston
  • NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft,
  • T-38 Talon
  • MH-65C Dolphin, USCG, CGAS New Orleans
  • F/A-18F Super Hornet, VFA-34 "Blue Blasters", NAS Oceana
  • E-2C Hawkeye (CAG) VAW-77 “Nightwolves”, NAS JRB New Orleans
  • E-2C Hawkeye (CAG) VAW-116 "Sun Kings", NS Ventura County
  • and many more...

Rating: 10 out of 10

Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for ASR Media LLC
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