Our first year in Yuma we attended the Yuma Airshow and enjoyed it so much that we have tried to attend again, but sadly it usually occurs after we have headed home for the winter. Not so this year 🙂 The show was a few weeks earlier than it usually is and even better, next years show will be at the end of February!
The show runs Friday night and Saturday during the day. Admittance is free and you can bring your own chairs, but you can also buy grandstand and chalet tickets. We take our own chairs along with water and lunch and sit along the fence to watch the show. The only thing we were unable to see this year was the patient on the ground that Search and Rescue rappelled down to pick up, other than that we could see everything else, so we think free is a good option.
To attend Friday night you have to print off a parking pass, which is free, but allows the event organizers to ensure they have enough parking spaces available. We had planned to go Friday night but it was MAJOR windy so we skipped it … maybe next year.
To attend on Saturday you just need to show up, but be prepared to wait in line to be directed to your parking spot. Once we were parked we were quickly loaded on the bus and driven to the main event area. Oh, and remember to bring ID with you, I almost left my wallet at home and would not have been able to enter the grounds.
We wandered around the static displays for a while … I was bored, hubby had fun … hmm sounds like the opposite of when he goes to the mall with me 🙂
At 11:00 a.m. the show began and it went non-stop until 3:30 p.m. Well, since the Marine Corp and the Yuma airport share runways, we did have one short stop to allow a medical plane to land.
The first plane we saw was the AV-8B Harrier II, and I thought it was really interesting. This plane is capable of vertical/short takeoff and landings. It has 22,000 pounds of thrust, which enables it to hover like a helicopter and then blast forward like a jet. I loved the fact that it would just hover in the sky and pose for pictures!
The Shockwave Jet Truck followed the Harrier, and it raced down the runway at 350mi/563km per hour before deploying a parachute to help it stop.
I’m not going to give you a play by play of the airshow but I will share some of our favorite events.
The F-35B Lightning II was also very cooperative and didn’t mind posing for pictures, but I guess if you are really into planes you would be more impressed by the fact that it can also do vertical/short takeoff and landings.
The Search and Rescue HH-1N Twin Huey performed a SAR demo where I mentioned above we were unable to see the patient on the ground, but we saw everything else.
The MV-22B Osprey followed SAR and displayed how they would deploy troops or provide cover fire when required. It was interesting to watch the Ospreys as they often fly over top of us at the RV Park, fortunately they haven’t felt the need to provide anyone cover fire while over the park 🙂
An AH-1 Viper helicopter gunship … sorry I don’t know what to tell you about this helicopter, I guess you will have to go to the show sometime 🙂
Through out the show we had been watching two planes, sitting on the runway right in front of us, do their preparation before their flight.
The A-10 made many flybys both upright and upside down.
And then it had to get serious and take out some bad guys …
But once the A-10 was finished making sure we were all safe it joined up with the Mustang for a heritage flight, which I found really very moving. The P-51D Mustang began service in 1940 and some were still flying in the early 80’s and the A-10 Thunderbolt entered service in 1976 and is still flying today.
The organizers made a special effort to ensure all of us Canadian visitors were welcomed by bringing in the Yellow Thunder Harvards aerobatics team. Drew and David Watson, two brothers from Ponoka, Alberta, Canada piloted these two Harvard’s and they did some amazing formation flying.
But by far the most powerful demonstration, at least in my mind, was Tora, Tora, Tora, and I really don’t have any pictures that do it justice, in fact I quickly gave up and just watched the performance.
“Tora, Tora, Tora” is the Commemorative Air Force’s recreation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that signaled the beginning of the American involvement in World War II. It was designed as a living history lesson, and is intended as a memorial to all the soldiers on both sides who gave their lives for their countries and I have to say it was very powerful, I felt like I was in the middle of the battle!
Tora, Tora, Tora debuted at the Galveston Air Show on June 25, 1972 and is still running forty-seven years later. And here is an interesting fact, the Tora aircraft and pilots participated in the filming of the Disney movie Pearl Harbor … now I’m going to have to watch that movie 🙂
Yes, we will definitely be going back to watch the Airshow again next year.
Until next time …