Monday, July 25, 2016

Airshow Day - Sioux Falls Airshow, 2016

It's been several years since the last time I went to a full up airshow. Oh, I was a regular attender of the EAA Arlington (WA) Fly-In every year while living in Washington, but Arlington isn't really an airshow, it's a massive, multi-day fly-in and social even that just happens to also have a nice airshow.

Then there's Seattle's Seafair, which despite the regular presence of the Blue Angels and a few other airshow and flight demonstration acts during the big final weekend, isn't so much an airshow as it is a long weekend of hydroplane races with airshow action added.

None of these are bad things. I loved going to Arlington and Seafair. But, there are some things you miss in those settings that other airshows often have. Thus it was with quite a bit of excitement that my wife and I loaded up the family people hauler to take ourselves and all the kids to the local air show, on the joint commercial airport/Air Force base in Sioux Falls.

Unfortunately, the chosen day ended up being one of the hottest of the year. By afternoon it was in the upper '90s, with enough humidity to push the apparent temp into the 100s, and make you feel like you were nearly drowning just trying to breathe in.

Full credit to the organizing team and the Air Force though, they had multiple medical tents for anyone with heat exhaustion or other issues, and large potable water tanks for refilling water bottles and staying hydrated. My family used those liberally, as did many other attendees.

The acts were fantastic. I love, LOVE, the Jack Links Jet Waco. One maneuver in particular, a vertical climb into a tail stand, followed by a tail slide, followed by throttling back up and climbing again, I don't believe I've seen anywhere else. And what a noise! The Pratt & Whitney radial up front sings the beautiful radial rumble as the aircraft approaches, then as it departs you get the scream of that GE CJ610 jet.

And the Blue Angels! I love listening to modern jets, and every show I've seen with the Blues is a treat. Even in a tough year, where they lost their #6 pilot, it's still a fantastic show (if tinged with a little bit of sadness every time #5 made a pass where you knew he would normally be accompanied or opposed by #6).

Perhaps my favorite part though, was the Heritage flight. I haven't seen one in person since the Air Force started doing them in 2010, so the P-38 and F-16 combo was a new, and fantastic looking one for me. Also finding out that there's a World War II focused air museum a couple hours North of me is a treat that I'll definitely be checking out.
This really shows the speed differences too. The P-38 is in a shallow dive to keep his airspeed up, while the F-16 is slightly nose-high, at or near the back side of the power curve, to be slow enough for a good looking formation pass.

A fantastic show overall, and one that may have helped plant some seeds with one or two of my kids for future career options!

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