A hot, humid, partly cloudy day in paradise awaited the thousands of Hawaii airshow fans who came out for the Sunday showing of the Kaneohe Bay Airshow held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.
Held Oct. 17-18, total attendance topped 100,000. One reason for the crowds was the appearance of the Blue Angels, who last appeared over the island in 2012. This was only their sixth appearance in Hawaii in the last 33 years.
On average, there is only one airshow in Hawaii each year, so there is excitement when an opportunity comes along to see one.
Pre-show festivities started with a skydiving demo from a local team, the “Flying Leathernecks,” and a few of the aerobatic performers fine-tuning up their aerial maneuvers. Thanks to the remnants of a recent storm, this was the only day of the show with plenty of sunshine to fly in.
The Marine Air-Ground Task Force got things rolling with a demonstration of how to secure a hostile area using Huey attack helicopters before bringing in huge CH-53 Sea Stallions to rapidly get their teams on the ground. Pyro charges set the stage for the final act as the huge “wall of fire” was set off during a mass fly-by of Marine firepower.
Hank Bruckner, a Hawaii-based airshow performer and aerobatics instructor pilot, flew an aerobatic routine in his two-seat French-made Mudry CAP-10C.
With displays of skilled aerobatics, civilian performers like Rob Holland and Jacquie B Warda took center stage. Rob is a four time US National Aerobatic Champion and the current World Freestyle Champion and it is obvious how deserving he is of those titles. Both Rob and Jacquie’s airplanes were transported from the mainland to Hawaii via giant Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft.
Military demonstrations included a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin, US Army Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook, while the Air Force was represented by the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team, and the Navy put a P-3 Orion through its paces before an appreciative crowd.
Unusual for an American airshow, classic warbirds were a rarity. Brad Deckert had his TBM Avenger flown in by C-5 so that he could participate in the show. His aircraft was actually stationed in Hawaii post-World War II so it was a homecoming of sorts. There was also a locally owned T-6 Texan that took to the air for a short exhibition flyby.
One unique aircraft to fly was Hawaiian Airlines’ 1929 Bellanca Pacemaker that was the first aircraft operated by the carrier’s predecessor company 86 years ago. Hawaiian believes it is the only carrier of its era that still operates its first airplane.
Aircraft on static display included a C-5 Galaxy from California, a local KC-135 Stratotanker and a Coast Guard C-130 from Barbers Point. Hawaii-based aircraft included an F-22 Raptor, P-3 Orions and a C-17. Military helicopters were also in abundance with a AH-1 Cobra gunship, CH-47 Chinook, CH-53 Sea Stallion and SH-60 Seahawk on display. There was an immaculate C-20G, which is the military version of a Gulfstream IV used for VIP transport.
General aviation aircraft on the ramp included a Citabria, Cessna 170, a CTLS Light-Sport aircraft, a Taylorcraft, Robinson helicopters, and a pair of Civil Air Patrol Cessna Skyhawks. There was an interesting Polish FK-12 Comet, the only LSA biplane in production. A vintage Beech Travel Air and a Mooney rounded out the GA presence at the show.
The U.S. Marine Corps did a fine job putting on this show. No one knows when the Blue Angels will be back again in Hawaii, but the enthusiasm of the crowd left no doubt that it would be a very welcome return.