(Photos and story by Curt & Randy Jennings)
SUITLAND, MD – Last weekend’s 2017 Joint Base Andrews Air Show was once again a fantastic glimpse at the aerial capability of the United States military. The weather cooperated all three days of the show, without a drop of rain and mostly sunny skies, so everyone was able to enjoy a great time.
As usual, the USAF Thunderbirds were the highlight of the show as well as the last to perform. Still all in attendance were thrilled at the performance of: the Army’s Golden Knights, the F-22 Raptor, the B-2 Spirit bomber, the Geico Skytypers, the B-29 Superfortress Doc, Patty Wagstaff’s incredible aerobatic display, and many more fine performers.
It was a very special treat to see, for the first time, the Boeing B-29 Doc take to the skies at Joint Base Andrews. After years of hard work by a team of dedicated volunteers, Doc became the second airworthy B-29 in the world. Previously the only flyable B-29 was Fifi, operated by the Commemorative Air Force.
Having had the opportunity to photograph both Doc and Fifi, I would say that I strongly prefer to capture images ofDoc. While Fifi is a sight to behold, she is painted gray, while Doc’s external surface is polished aluminum thus providing a fantastic reflection for the photographer. This was evident as Doc flew over Joint Base Andrews with the runway clearly reflected on its side. Additionally I witnessed several people taking their self-portraits in Doc’s reflective surface when she was back on static display.
Fast forward to the most modern aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory, the F-22 and B-2 were very impressive. The acrobatic flight demonstration of the F-22, with its vectored thrust, continues to thrill the crowd. The F-22 was later joined by a P-51 Mustang, flying in in formation as a Heritage Flight. As always, the flyover of the B-2 was both a rather eerie sight and sound due not only to its strange look but how quite it is for a plane of its size.
Kids of all ages enjoyed the static aircraft that provided hands on experience with what our nation uses to project American military capability. More importantly, show attendees were able to interact with military personnel who are the core of our nation’s military might.
Having attended many of the Andrews shows over the past twenty plus years, I would say this is a good show but not what it once was mostly due to budget cuts. In the past, the Andrews show occurred on an annual basis, though the last show was two years ago. It used to be a truly joint show with greater participation by the Army and the Marines, both on the ground and in the air. We will see if the nation’s defense budget will stabilize to make this again an annual event. Still the 2017 Joint Base Andrews Air Show was a fantastic time for both the aviation enthusiast as well as the first time air show attendee.