The 2018 airshow season allowed me to visit many parts of California, and for my season finale I chose the Apple Valley Airshow.
I was not familiar with this event until 2017, when I was invited by Mr. & Mrs. Tumbling Bear, Rob and Susan Harrison. I was unable to attend in 2017 but was determined to attend the 2018 show.
Located in the California high desert locale of Apple Valley, this was the 17th year this airshow was put on by the San Bernardino County Department of Airports for local airshow fans. Unfortunately the typical clear desert skies of the region chose not to participate on this particular day. Instead overcast skies and light rain delayed the start of the show for the thousands in attendance.
When conditions improved, umbrellas were put away, planes were wiped down, and pilots happily began preflighting their aircraft. First to take to the skies was the Tumbling Bear, Rob Harrison himself, to check conditions before starting his aerobatic routine.
Rob was followed by John Collver in his SNJ-5 and Chuck Coleman with his Extra 300.
Next on the schedule was a U.S. Coast Guard fly-by with one of its new C-27 Spartan medium range surveillance aircraft that flew down from Air Station Sacramento.
Then it was time for the only team performing at the show, three pilots from the RedStar Pilots Association with their Yak-52s. They put on a very nice demonstration with three-ship formation flying along with solo and duo elements.
Vicky Benzing, and her scarlet Stearman, made her first appearance at the Apple Valley Airshow, followed by Tony Higa flying his Pitts here for the second year.
A fly-by by a California ANG C-130J Hercules capped the morning flight activities.
The weather delay impacted the afternoon flight schedule, eliminating a skydiving act along with Tony Higa’s encore performance. But it was time for the heavy iron warbirds to get aloft and beat up the airfield.
The Planes of Fame flew a quartet of classics over the mountains to participate. Unfortunately their P-51A Mustang “Mrs. Virginia” was grounded by a balky fuel pump, which left a P-51D “Wee Willy,” an F4U Corsair and a P-40 Warhawk to soldier on for the fans.
An interesting assortment of static aircraft were arrayed around the spacious tarmac. The most notable were what appeared to be two C-47s parked nose to nose. Closer inspection revealed that one was actually a C-53D Skytrooper “D-Day Doll” from the Commemorative Air Force, while the other C-47B, “Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber,” belongs to the Estrella Warbirds Museum. The Estrella aircraft has been invited to the 75th Normandy Reenactment Anniversary, so fundraising was underway.
Law enforcement was represented by the California Highway Patrol’s Cessna Turbo Stationair and AS350 helicopter, along with San Bernardino County Sheriff ‘s AS350.
A Navion sporting a faux USCG livery was a unique sight.
The only jets in attendance were a Gulfstream GIII and an ex-USAF Learjet C-21.
The weather dampened what was otherwise a nice local airshow, with plenty of friendly airshow fans, local vendors and proud pilots happy to show their planes. These smaller airshows are a welcome change of pace and provide a good balance with their supersized counterparts.
Apple Valley Airport (KAPV) is located outside of the town of Apple Valley in San Bernardino County, California. Opened in 1970, the general aviation airport has two runways.