As one of the best East Coast air shows, this year’s show at Joint Base Andrews did not disappoint. Located just outside of Washington D.C., it took place on May 10-12.
Advertised as the Joint Base Andrews Air Show: America’s Air & Space Expo, “Legends in Flight”, the show is held every other year. In the past, it was an annual event, but because of budget cuts and costing over $2 million per event it is now held every other year. Friday’s show was reserved for distinguished visitors, military personnel, their families and retirees. The general public was allowed to attend Saturday and Sunday, though because of heavy rain the Sunday flying portion was cancelled.
The most unique aspect of the 2019 show was aerial demonstrations by both the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels. Because of Department of Defense policy and stated recruiting missions, the Blues and Thunderbirds do not normally fly within 150 miles of one another.
Prior to the flying portion of the show, attendees could walk around and take in the forty plus aircraft on static display. Besides the huge C-5 Galaxy and other military aircraft, there were plenty of civilian planes and especially warbirds from the Second World War.
The United States Army Golden Knights parachute team kicked off the show with an impressive precision drop before the audience. Civilian aerobatics were carried out by: the Geico Skytypers, Team Oracle, and three time U.S. national aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff.
The warbirds were on hand to provide a historical perspective. On static display the crowd could enjoy seeing the: Navy’s TBM Avenger, C-47 Skytrain, and the B-17 Flying Fortress. While flying demonstrations were carried out by a B-25 Mitchell, F4U Corsair and two P-51 Mustangs.
Transitioning to more modern times, the Air Forces A-10C Thunderbolt II, aka Warthog, took to the sky. As the lead element of the Air Combat Command’s A-10C Demonstration Team, the audience was thrilled with the plane’s extreme maneuverability and simulated strafing runs. Still the A-10 only served to warmup everyone for the main event.
First off was the Air Force Thunderbirds. Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbirds commanding officer, started the performance by leading the four aircraft diamond formation takeoff. Immediately after, they were joined by the two opposing solo pilots. The Thunderbirds stunned one and all, by combining various loops and rolls, through solo maneuvers or with four and six ship formations.
The weather worsened a bit as the Blue Angels prepared to take flight. As CAPT Eric Doyle led the Blues diamond formation on takeoff, they quickly disappeared into the cloud cover. Because of the marginal weather and mandated safety restrictions, the Blue Angels flew their “low” show. Still the combination of the opposing solo aviators with the diamond and delta formations was incredible to be seen.
The next Andrews Air Show will be held in 2021, though the date is to be determined. Keep a look out for this incredible show not to be missed.