Chino Airshow Report
The weather was very hot for this year’s Chino Airshow on May 17 and 18, both on the ground and in the sky. The Planes of Fame museum has quite a collection of historic and rare warbirds like the A6M5 Zero, which flies with its original Sakae engine. Other projects in progress are on static display as a preview of flying displays at future shows. The price of gas, mechanical failures and schedule changes are facts of life when dealing with old warbirds. The hot ramp at Chino was lighter than last year, but the show was still a great spectacle. The folks at Chino seem to take this all in stride, make the adjustments to the schedule and move right along. The theme for this years show was “Wings of the Silver Screen”.
The Silver Wings wing walking team opened the show. Margi Stivers has performed over 1,000 wing walks in her career. Her grace and style were a great way to start the show. Two B-25s followed the Silver Wings, doing simulated bomb runs. B-25s like these were part of the movie “Thirty Second over Tokyo” and “Catch 22”. Steve Hinton flew aerobatics in an F8F Bearcat, displaying the agility of this late war fighter.
The action was fast and continuous as the WWII Pacific theater aircraft took to the skies with 2 A6M Zeros, a Val replica, P-40 Warhawks, SBD Dauntless and the F4F and F6F from the Grumman Iron Works. Four F4U Corsairs were also up for this flight. Rounding out the morning before a short lunch break was a ground combat battle demonstration featuring military re-enactors. German and American vehicles and re-enactors battled to control the airfield. The Korean War flight featured the L-19 Bird-dog, F-86 Sabre and MiG-15. Seeing the former foes of Korea in tight formation was a site to behold. P-51 Mustangs and the F4U Corsair also flew in Korea, and were part of this flight.
One of the highlight acts followed the Korean War, The Horsemen. Ed Shipley and Jim Beasley fly aerobatics in P-51 Mustangs, while in formation. What takes great timing and amazing concentration looks effortless to this team. The WWII European theater flight put two P-38 Lightnings, a P-47 Thunderbolt, a Spitfire, Fairey Firefly, several Mustangs and a B-25 and B-17 up in the air at the same time. The B-25 and B-17 flew several passes in formation. The crowd cheered to see the two bombers down low, in formation.
The Baa Baa Black Sheep flight featured four F4U Corsairs in formation and flying some demonstrations. Any fan of the Corsair was in heaven to see four together in formation. One of them was recently brought over from France. Brian Sanders flew another great demonstration of aerobatics in his Hawker Sea Fury. The massive gaggle of Warbirds followed, with 22 warbirds in a long formation stretching across the sky.
The USAF F-16 Viper jet demonstration was a nice contrast to all of the previous generation’s aircraft. The Viper demonstrated some of the tactical maneuvers used by today’s fighter pilots. After the demonstration, the F-16 formed up with a P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning for the USAF Heritage flight.
With all of the challenges that face the airshow industry today, it’s great to see shows like Chino still put on a show that is fresh and exciting. The crowd line was busy early this year, which was a sign that the rising gas prices haven’t dampened the interest in the Chino show. Many, many thanks go out to the army of volunteers at the Planes of Fame Museum and the Chino Airport.
By Eric Van Gilder Owner/photographer- Van Gilder Aviation Photography. www.vg-photo.com