2014 Air Shows

Warriors Over The Wasatch, June 28-29, 2014

Location: Hill AFB , UT
Admission: Free
Parking: Free, on-site
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The “Warriors Over The Wasatch” Open House and Air Show at Hill AFB took place over the weekend of June 28-29. This biennial event celebrates the “Power of Airmen” and combines military demonstrations with civilian aerobatic performances. The USAF Thunderbirds once again highlighted the show this year. Other military performers included the US Army’s Parachute Demonstration Team, the “Golden Knights,” the F-16 Heritage Flight demonstration and a simulated airfield attack by the local 388th Fighter Wing. A large array of military aircraft was also on static display. Civilian performers ranged the gamut from hang glider to jet car, with parachutes, jet planes, biplanes and warbirds in between.
The flying show opened promptly at 1000 with the Golden Knights bringing in the US and the Utah state flags circled all the while by Bill Stein, Matt Chapman and Rob Holland. The trio, calling themselves “The Force,” then put on a nice demonstration of formation aerobatic flying, made all the more interesting as it was a dissimilar flight of an Eagle 580 (Chapman, lead), Edge 540 (Bill Stein, left wing) and MXS ( Holland, right wing). Each would also return later for a solo demonstration. Likewise, Buck Roetman in his Pitts S-2S Special and Gary Rower in his PT-17 Stearman put on a formation aerobatic demonstration. Here the difference in performance between the two biplanes was much greater, but the synchrony was just as harmonious. Buck’s solo performance was later interrupted by the launch of Dan Buchanan’s hang glider. Dan paid for this (feigned) intrusion of the airspace by having his streamers chopped off by Buck’s propeller. It was all in good fun and to the amusement of the crowd. Once aloft, Dan put on an impressive display of energy management, coaxing the glider through many intricate maneuvers including the launch of fireworks from the canopy. David Erickson, who actually works at Hill AFB, enjoyed performing for the hometown crowd in his Zlin 50 LS. Red Bull’s Kirby Chambliss put on his usual high-energy rip-roaring demonstration in his Edge 540, beginning and ending with his jaw-dropping Cobra maneuver.
The skies were once again filled with parachutes when the Golden Knights returned for their full demonstration. This was composed of a number of intricate maneuvers including a simulated fouled chute, where the jumper released his main chute before deploying his backup. Thanks to the efforts of the Public Affairs Office, ASR was fortunate to go up with the team in their C-31 Troopship (military variant of the Fokker F27 Friendship) to witness their jumps from a unique angle high above the crowds. Read all about it in an upcoming issue of The Magazine. The skydivers of the Red Bull Air Force also put on breathtaking displays: one pair freefalling, another pair gliding in their wingsuits before deploying their chutes and screaming in at amazing speeds to pinpoint landings in front of the crowd.
Mark Peterson put on two very nice demonstrations of the aerobatic capabilities of warbirds, the first in his World War II P-51D Mustang fighter “Diamondback” and later in his contemporary Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet trainer and light attack aircraft. Another jet warbird performance was put on by Greg “Wired” Colyer in his T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker.” He seems to take pleasure in using the full extent of the aerobatic “box,” descending so low that he disappeared behind the tails of the Thunderbirds’ F-16s parked at show center. Despite not gaining even that much altitude, Bill Braack took first place in the afterburner category. His staccato bursts of smoke and thunder in the jet car brought the crowds running to the fence for both his high-speed run and his race with Rob Holland later in the day (which he won, at least on Saturday).
Many in attendance were looking forward to seeing tactical demonstrations from modern military aircraft and the 421st Fighter Squadron did not disappoint them. In rapid succession four F-16Cs of the “Black Widows” launched, loaded with missiles and drop tanks, employing full afterburner to take off and quickly gain altitude with their external stores. Flights “Spider One” and “Spider Two” split apart, one to attack the airfield from the north, the other the south. The aircraft simulated both bombing and strafing runs, so came in at different altitudes and attitudes. These passes were accompanied with well-timed ground pyrotechnics provided by the local EOD teams. Their high-g maneuvers extracted lots of vapor from the moist air and their banking turns provided beautiful top-side views into the cockpits for the multitude of photographers. The grand finale was a wall of fire which exploded behind the parked Thunderbirds after the final bombing run. The four Vipers then passed in review in close formation, peeling off in one second intervals to land. Major Mark “Juice” Whisler also performed a short tactical demonstration of the Fighting Falcon’s capabilities before being joined by Greg Anders in the P-51D Mustang “Diamondback” for the Heritage Flight. And finally, of course, came the Thunderbirds, performing their high show in the beautiful blue skies over the Wasatch. It was the perfect ending to a picture-perfect airshow. The crowds barely thinned since many were waiting to get an autograph or a photo with one of the Thunderbird team members.
After the cessation of flying there was an hour to go before the gates closed and there was still much to see. Hill AFB is host to the Ogden Air Logistics Complex which provides maintenance for the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II and the C-130 Hercules. Traditionally, a “Depot Flight” composed of these aircraft has been flown during the airshow. That was unfortunately not the case this year, although a very nice grouping of these aircraft was on static display. The bare-metal Hercules was particularly impressive, gleaming in the bright sunlight. There were also plenty of maintenance personnel on hand to answer the myriad questions from the crowds. See the list below for more of the many aircraft on static display. Most of the larger aircraft were open for tours and many of the fighters and trainers had their cockpits open for viewing. The line for the B-1B Lancer cockpit tour stretched the length of its fuselage from early morning until the security forces started their sweep of the area at 5PM.
Weather conditions were ideal and an estimated half a million visitors attended the two-day show, far surpassing the 85,000 hardy fans who braved the cold and rain in 2012. Parking was close-in on base with both park-and-walk and park-and-shuttle options available. Traffic was handled very well and security checks proceeded quickly. VIP chalets were set up just to the right of show center but there was plenty of open space to set up folding chairs or stake out a spot on the fence. With the gates opening at 0800, visitors had plenty of time to view the extensive lineup of aircraft on static display and interact with the aircrews and airmen before the flying began. The website had both detailed access and ramp layout maps as well as up-to-date schedule and performer information. An area was set aside for the hearing impaired and a group of volunteers provided signed interpretations of the narration during the airshow. We had never seen this before and were very impressed by this innovation. Hopefully this will catch on at other shows. Photography was challenging in the morning light, but by the afternoon the sun had moved behind the flightline, providing nice over-the-shoulder lighting. The mountains in the distance and bright puffy clouds provided a beautiful backdrop to the flying action. Food courts, restrooms, water and first aid stations were conveniently distributed throughout the grounds. Lines were therefore short. Prices for beer and food were quite reasonable and many of the booths were manned by base units or squadrons.
We would like to express our thanks and sincere appreciation to the 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office for their outstanding hospitality and assistance during the Open House, in particular Mr. Richard Essary in Media Relations for arranging media access and SSgt Michael McCool for his support during the show.

Performances included:

  • USAF Thunderbirds
  • US Army Parachute Demonstration Team “Golden Knights”
  • 388th Fighter Wing Airfield Attack Demonstration, 421st FS “Black Widows”
  • Heritage Flight: P-51D Mustang “Diamondback” & F-16C Fighting Falcon
  • “The Force”: Rob Holland, Bill Stein & Matt Chapman Aerobatics
  • Mark Peterson, P-51D Mustang “Diamondback” Aerobatics
  • Bill Braack, Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car
  • Buck Roetman, Pitts S-2S Special Aerobatics
  • Dan Buchanan, Hang Glider Aerobatics
  • Greg “Wired” Colyer, T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker” Aerobatics
  • Gary Rower, PT-17 Stearman Aerobatics
  • Red Bull Air Force Parachute Demonstration Team
  • Kirby Chambliss, Edge 540 Aerobatics
  • Rob Holland, MXS Aerobatics
  • Mark Peterson, Alpha Jet Aerobatics
  • David Erickson, Zlin 50 LS Aerobatics
  • Bill Stein, Edge 540 Aerobatics
  • Matt Chapman, Eagle 580 Aerobatics
  • Gary Rower & Buck Roetman: Dual Biplane Aerobatics
Aircraft on static display included:
  • B-52H Stratofortress
  • C-5C Galaxy
  • C-17 Globemaster III
  • C-130H Hercules
  • CV-22 Osprey
  • E-3 Sentry
  • F/A-18A Hornet, NASA
  • F-15E Strike Eagle
  • F-16C Fighting Falcon
  • F-22 Raptor
  • F-35 Lightning II
  • KC-10 Extender
  • KC-135R Stratotanker
  • T-6A Texan II
  • T-34 Mentor, NASA
  • T-38 Talon
  • UH-60 Black Hawk, US Army
  • UH-72 Lakota, US Army
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Report by Norman A. Graf with photography as noted for ASR Media LLC
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