Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Airshow
The end of June hosted the Rhode Island National Guard’s 16th consecutive air show. It’s a major New England event that everyone from the region could enjoy. This year’s show continued its reputation of hosting a world class collection of aviators featuring some of the best military and civilian aircraft and pilots you will ever see. With 15 major performance teams entertaining the crowds, there was never a dull moment. Each of the flyers would be worth watching if they were the only event.
During this year’s show, the crowds experienced the controlled power of the F-15E’s 50,000 pounds of thrust, the strength of Navy FA-18s and the uncanny maneuverability of a Harrier screaming past the grandstand in maneuvers that seem to defy normal flight. It wasn’t only jets performing for the crowds. You might not expect that a cargo plane would entertain spectators but when the C-130J lifted off the runway everyone watched. The pilot, Driscoll, with multiple combat deployments behind him, really put the four engine, six prop tactical airlifter through its paces. I kept thinking “this is not a fighter, it delivers cargo – but wow, it can fly”! John Klatt, a seasoned Air National Guard veteran, flew his Staudacher S-300D delivering smoking aerobatics with bone crushing G forces. Within a few minutes of one performer completing their show another exceptional pilot was in the air. Sean and Eric Tucker delivered an inspiring demonstration with two aircraft that hovered in vertical space for seconds before taking on a hammerhead stall.
Michael Goulian, flying in his Castrol Extra 300SHP, demonstrated incredible maneuvers with impeccable accuracy. Watching his execution of tumbling the airplane in the Lomcevak maneuver caused a group gasp of amazement.
No world class show could be complete without the aerial ballet of Julie Clark. Flying her Chevron Mentor T-34 warbird, she delivered a patriotic tribute with a special twist using a new “butt” light that illuminated the tail smoke as if an afterburner. Julie celebrated the air show along with a special birthday.
The static displays of WWII warbirds, Vietnam era aircraft and later jets made for interesting investigation as the crowd inspected 30 or more vintage aircraft. It was especially fun to watch young people, maybe future pilots, climb into the cockpit of the C-130 and imagine taking off. As another great attraction, the air show pilots made special time available for autograph hunters and people who just wanted to talk about flying. Watching the interaction and excitement of the crowd, you knew people were having fun.
This year’s show was capped off by the rarely seen RAF Red Arrows. All nine of the bright red jet aircraft thundered across the sky with plenty of multi-color smoke outlining their precision formation flying. All in all – if you missed this event you missed a rewarding family outing with plenty of parking and tons entertainment.
Story by John Cilio. Additional photos can be found on line in our Photographer’s Marketplace..