May 27, 2014

2014 RI National Guard Air Show | Quonset Point

Well here's a first, a non Honda blog post. It was due to happen sooner than later with the growth of the SHG_Blog but what better way to break from the mold? After 2 years away following last year's show canceling, the RI Air Show came back in style for 2014 by putting together a sensory packed event at Quonset Point for the unbeatable price of zero dollars. Yep, zilch. Guess who went!

You guessed right, SHG and about another 40,000 people came out on Saturday with an additional 45,000 coming to the second and final day on Sunday.

Lauren, Mike and Elyson were already there by the time Evan and I showed up but we hadn't missed anything, just the right exit on the highway which cost us some 20 minutes. The lines to get in were clear so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all that we arrived a little later.

For sure it was right on time for an awesome presentation by the experienced Julie Clark; a 65 year old woman that became one of the first female pilots to work for a major airline.

Her modified T34-Mentor outputs 300hp+ with its fully blueprinted engine and weighs only 2,250lbs dry without fuel which for an acrobatic airplane is on the low end of the power to weight ratio and yet she manages to perform strenuous stunts even at her age.

Unbeknownst to the average onlooker, the T-34s aren't equipped with an inverted oil system nor an inverted fuel system meaning that upside down stunts require extra care to protect the engine from oil starvation or even worse, stalling it midair. 

The patriotic "Senerade in Red, White and Blue" presentation couldn't of been better and once landed, she even stood up on top of the engine while ghost riding the whip. One word, 'Murica!

Next up was the P-51D Mustang, one of the most recognizable fighter planes used during World War II. The characteristic "rumble" by the Packard V-1650 two stage supercharged engine was special to experience in person, just as if we had been taken back to the early/mid 40s.

Responsible for taking down 4,950 enemy aircrafts, the Mustang played an essential part in clearing the skies for heavy bombers flying into Berlin. It was considered the best all around fighter during the war due to its superior maneuverability and extended range via the economic engine and large fuel tank.

Of course these days it's mainly used for airshows and civilian use but at about $2,500 an hour to operate one of these bad boys, you just have to file it off under "nostalgia expenses".

When the much awaited F-22 Raptor made its appearance, I just had to keep the camera on standby and see it for myself. Using the afterburners to take off, the sound was simply surreal. Bone chilling loud puts it into perspective accurately.

The vertical climb was incredible to watch, especially towards the top when the Raptor reaches 0 airspeed effectively stalling itself before pitching forward to recover.

More so than any other aircraft that day, it produced tons of visible vortices from the condensation of water vapor found in the humid air. I only captured glimpses of it in photos but watching it with my own eyes beats it so I'm fine with it!

Flying inverted no biggie...

Finishing off its display, the P-51 joined it for a heritage flight showcasing the major advancements made from a 1st generation fighter jet to the current 5th generation.

What a sight! Probably the best part of the entire show was seeing these 2 on the air together.

The twin engined 4,000hp F7F Tigercat was another fighter plane from that era but didn't get in on the action until the Korean War years later.

In spite the fact that most of these planes are well over half a century old, they have all been either well maintained or restored to original condition. The navy blue paint on this F8F Bearcat was glistening in the sun.

Tigercat alongside Bearcats...

Geico Skytypers flying the SNJ-2s in formation over the blue skies.

You have to give props to these pilots being able to hold their respective positions so accurately from a geometric standpoint.

Did I mention the show was free? I think I might of have, worth every dollar not spent!

V-22 Osprey taking flight was a nice sight for sure...

Wild acrobatics by this MX Aircraft MX-2 piloted by Rob Holland. It's worth noting that this is the same model plane used in the famous Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Another class act pilot was Sean D. Tucker inside the Oracle Challenger III biplane. For contrast, it has 400hp and weighs a mere 1,200lbs which can accelerate up to an impressive 6g in certain maneuvers. 

The admirable 220mph entry into the triple ribbon cut was scary to watch but just as equally impressive. Though with that said, you couldn't pay me enough to be a pole holder!

We decided to walk around the show for a bit as they had tons of aircrafts on display and food trucks/tents. Above the boys are looking inside a helicopter's cockpit.

Studying the mechanics of it all...

Crispy fries hrm...

EasyE went for some good ol' fried dough. Can you tell it was little windy?

Finally as the last show of the day was about to start, we got to witness the Blue Angels C-130 carrier take off. Albeit its massive size, "Fat Albert" has tons of power for a rapid climb especially being sans payload.

In the past, FA used Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) however with the diminishing supply of rockets available, it no longer is part of the show. Even without them, you can tell how much thrust it has by the angle of attack well up in the air.

For a behemoth of an airplane, it could sure take a turn too...

The men and women responsible for the maintenance and operation of the Blue Angel F/A-18s line up in front of the crowd before the pilots split to climb aboard and strap in.

Although the F22 Raptor display was our favorite, the Blue Angels were the highlight of the day as they performed flyovers as close as 18 inches apart from each other.

Or how about the knife-edge pass? Definitely not for the faint of heart. Closing in at a combined 1,000mph (500mph each towards one other), they roll at the last minute to avoid contact. Luckily I got the timing absolutely spot on!

Overall it was a fun day aside from the sunburns Evan and I got but we'll be sure to bring some sunblock next time! Hope you enjoyed the photos and if you'd like to see a few more, they are available here on my Flickr. There are some new articles in the works to come over the next few weeks, stay tuned!