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Pax River

Air Show

June 2018

 

Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland

 

 

 

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Naval Air Station Patuxent River is located in St. Mary's County, Maryland, approximately one hour southeast of Washington, D.C.  Commissioned in 1943, NAS Pax River (as it is commonly called) was built to centralize air testing facilities needed for WWII.  By the end of the war, aircraft experimental and development squadrons were in place, and after the war, it continued to serve as the naval aeronautics and test pilot program focus point.  Four of the seven original Mercury astronauts were graduates of the Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Pax River.

 

Today, NAS Pax River is home to a full spectrum of research, development, test, and evaluation for all of naval aviation.

 

NAS Pax River hosted a large air show in June 2018, with the Navy Blue Angels demonstration team as the featured attraction.  In addition to dozens of flying demonstrations by various planes, there were also many static displays on the ground, some of which were open for the public to look inside. 

 

 

 

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When we arrived at the base, our first goal was to find a good spot to view the air show and set out our chairs  for a front-row seat.

One nice thing about being on base is we had little worry about our things being stolen or vandalized.

 

 

 

 

STATIC DISPLAYS

 

 

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After getting our chairs situated, it was off to view the static displays. 

 

 

 

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Starting down the first row of the static displays.  We were worried that it might rain and cancel the air show, but it cleared up.

 

 

 

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Spencer is showing Beth one of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) used by the Navy. 

Northrup Grumman MQ-4C Triton. 

 

This surveillance and patrol aircraft is controlled remotely by 4 personnel.  It has a range of over 9,000 miles and can stay aloft for up to 30 hours.

 

Powered by a single jet engine, its maximum speed is 350 MPH.

 

 

 

 

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MH-60 Sea Hawk

 

The Sea Hawk is a versatile aircraft capable of deploying aboard many different types of Navy vessels.  Various versions specialize in anti-submarine warfare,

anti-surface warfare, naval special warfare insertion, search and rescue, and medical evacuations. 

 

It has a top speed of over 160 MPH and a range of over 500 miles.

 

 

 

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MH-60 Sea Hawk

 

 

 

 

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Bell AH-1Z Apache attack helicopter.  (Marines)

Not the thing you want to see pop up in your rear-view mirror!

 

Top speed is well over 200 MPH, and it has a range of over 400 miles.

 

 

 

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Bell AH-1Z Apache attack helicopter.  (Marines)

That's a 3-barrel, 20MM cannon in the front.  It can fire up to 1,500 rounds per minute.

It also holds up to 76 unguided rockets or 28 guided rockets.

 

 

 

 

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This F/A-18 Hornet is used by the VX-23 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron at Pax River NAS to test and

certify new technology and updates to the F/A-18 and other Navy planes.

 

 

 

 

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NU-1B Otter

Hey, Spencer, this one is older than your dad! (But not by much)

 

Very historic aircraft.  (See next photo for details)

 

 

 

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This particular airplane was delivered to the US Navy in September, 1956 and has the

longest continuous service of any airplane in the inventory.

It served in Antarctica from 1956 - 1966.  It was the last Otter to leave Antarctica.

Since then, it has been assigned to the Test Pilot School to give students the opportunity to experience the flight characteristics of fixed landing gear planes.

 

 

 

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The Navy variant of the F-35, the "C" model.

It features more robust landing gear for carrier use, as well as a tail hook, larger wings, and more fuel capacity.

 

 

Top speed is over 1,200 MPH (Mach 1.6) and its range is 1,700 miles.  It is one of the most "invisible" stealth planes for enemy radar to detect.

 

 

 

 

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F-35C

 

 

 

 

 

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P-3 Orion. 

The P-3 is one of just a handful of planes that have been in the military inventory over 50 years.  It is a rugged, proven design used mostly

for submarine hunting and maritime surveillance.  Two have been modified for weather research by NOAA and regularly fly into hurricanes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our extended family climbing the ladder up into the P-3. 

 

 

 

 

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Ginger trying her hand at flying the P-3. 

 

 

 

 

 

AIR SHOW

 

 

It was getting close to starting time for the air show, so we headed back to our front-row seats.

 

 

 

 

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Watching for the first planes to appear.

 

 

 

 

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The first to appear from the sky were the members of the Women's Jump Team.

At first, they were mere specks in the sky.  Then, they turned on the smoke trails.

 

 

 

 

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Women's Jump Team.

 

 

 

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Women's Jump Team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Quick Silver"    P-51D Mustang

 

One of the first planes in the air for today's air show was a P-51 Mustang.  This is one of the later "D" models.

 

The P-51 Mustang was one of the premiere fighters in WWII.  Its long range (over 2,000 miles) allowed it to escort our B-17 bombers deep into Germany beyond the range of previous fighter escorts.  Before the P-51, German fighters would wait until the short-ranged escort planes had to turn around and would then attack the unprotected bombers.  The P-51D was armed with six 50-Caliber machine guns and could reach a top speed of over 430 MPH and an altitude of over 40,000 feet.

 

The Packard V-1650 was a Rolls-Royce designed liquid-cooled 27-Liter V-12 engine produced by Packard motors (remember them?) in the U.S.

  It featured twin superchargers and made over 1,300 horsepower.  

 

The P-51 Mustangs continued in active service until January 1957, when the last Mustang was retired from the West Virginia Air National Guard.

 

This privately-owned WWII Mustang was resurrected and currently flies dozens of air shows each year.

 

 

http://quicksilvermustang.com/ 

 

 

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P-51D Mustang

 

The distinctive air scoop underneath made the P-51 easy to identify. 

 

 

 

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P-51D Mustang

This slow roll gives a great view of the underbelly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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P-51D Mustang

 

 

 

 

 

Vought F4U Corsair

 

 

Soon, the P-51 was joined by another vintage WWII fighter - the Vought F4U Corsair.

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair

 

The Vought F4U Corsair was one of the premiere fighter planes in the Pacific Theatre of WWII.  At Pearl Harbor, and for nearly a year afterward, the Japanese Zero fighters ruled the skies over the Pacific.  American fighter planes were sadly obsolete and outclassed.  This allowed the Japanese Navy to move unchecked throughout the South Pacific and China.

 

Although originally designed for use on aircraft carriers, the long nose and other features made it difficult to land on a carrier.  Therefore, most of the Corsairs were flown by land-based squadrons (Navy and Marines) until very late in the war.

 

When the Vought F4U Corsair slowly entered service in 1942 , the tides turned in favor of the Americans.  It was powered by a 46-Liter, twin-row, 18-Cylinder air-cooled engine producing  over 2,000 horsepower.  The Corsair had a range of over 900 miles and a maximum speed of around 450 MPH.  Most were armed with six 50-Caliber machine guns.  They had an optimal blend of armor protection and agility.

 

By the end of the war, the F4U Corsair enjoyed an 11:1 kill ratio against the Japanese.  The American Navy could once again sail the Pacific with strong air cover. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_F4U_Corsair 

 

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair

 

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair

 

 

 

 

 

After a brief display of the acrobatic agility of the F4U Corsair, it was joined by the P-51 for a nice exhibition.

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang together - wingtip to wingtip!

It was a real treat seeing these two legends flying together once again.

 

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang  

 

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vought F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang

One last fly-by for photos.

 

 

 

 

Harrier "Jump Jet"

 

The "Jump Jet" Fighters are part of a family of planes designed and built in Great Britain beginning in the 1960s.  They are STOL/VTOL, meaning Short Take Off & Landing / Vertical Take Off & Landing.  By using special rotating nozzles under the plane, the jet engine's thrust could be directed downward to provide enough thrust to lift the plane vertically (unless fully loaded with fuel and weapons).  When fully loaded, it requires a short run to have the wings provide added lift. 

 

These fighter/attack planes were designed to fly in and out of unimproved areas and eliminated the need for long runways and airports.  They could land and take off in fields and parking lots, if needed.  Maximum speed of some models was over 700 MPH.   Production ended in 2003.   The United States is beginning to field a STOL/VTOL plane of its own with certain variants of the new F-35B fighter plane. 

 

This is a privately-owned and operated plane.

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Beginning a vertical takeoff.  You can see the heat from the jet engine as it is directed downward.

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Here, the heat from the downward facing jet nozzles is more visible. 

 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Forward view.  Very unusual landing gear setup. 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

With the landing gear retracted and the jet nozzles facing rearward, the "Jump Jet" assumes the role of a normal fighter/attack plane.

 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Showing off some of its agility with thunderous power.

 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Low-altitude pass over the runway and crowd. 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

As it hovers, you can see the two jet nozzles under the wing on each side. 

 

 

 

 

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Harrier "Jump Jet"   

Tipping its nose down as it faces the crowd to show its remarkable agility. 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH AN INTERESTING VIDEO ON THE HARRIER JUMP JET

 

 

 

 

Patty Wagstaff

 

 

Patty Wagstaff is a 3-time National Aerobatics Champion and one of the world's top air show pilots, flying dozens of low-level aerobatic demonstrations each year.

She flies a lightweight German-built Extra aerobatic airplane.

 

 

 

 

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Patty Wagstaff and her Extra aerobatics plane.

 

 

 

 

 

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Patty Wagstaff and her Extra aerobatics plane.

After climbing straight up to a standstill, she rolls the plane downward and resumes flying.

 

 

 

 

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Patty Wagstaff and her Extra aerobatics plane.

 

 

 

 

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One of Patty Wagstaff's demonstrations is this "Inverted Ribbon Cut".

A string with bright ribbons is run between two poles barely 30 feet off the ground.

 

 

 

 

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As she approaches the ribbons just 30 feet off the ground (and close to 200 MPH!),

she inverts the plane and snags the ribbons while flying upside down!

 

 

 

 

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The moment of truth.  A small hook on the wing snags the string and ribbons.

 

 

 

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Got it!!! 

 

 

 

 

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With a climb rate of 4,000 feet per minute, she is back in the sky in no time.

 

 

 

 

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Patty Wagstaff and her Extra aerobatics plane.

What a fabulous show!   I don't think my stomach could have handled the ride. 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT PATTY WAGSTAFF 

 

 

 

 

Rob Holland and Elias Corey

 

Rob Holland and Elias Corey joined forces to present an incredible 2-plane demonstration.

 

Rob Holland is a 9-time National Aerobatic Champion and a 5-time World Freestyle Champion.

He flies the MXS-RH, an all carbon fiber aerobatic plane.

 

Elias Corey flies a specially modified Extra 330SC airplane which is also mainly carbon fiber. 

He is sponsored by Suzuki.  It's easy to spot him by the big "S" on the tail. 

 

 

 

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Elias Corey (Left) and Rob Holland (Right) prepare to amaze the crowd.

 

 

 

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Elias Corey (Left) and Rob Holland (Right)

 

 

 

 

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Elias Corey and Rob Holland performing fast turns and other acrobatics in close proximity.

 

 

 

 

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Elias Corey and Rob Holland

 

 

 

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Elias Corey would take his plane into a vertical climb until it came to a complete stop.

Then, he would "hover" for several seconds with the engine screaming until he turned downward and resumed flight.

Pretty impressive.

 

 

 

 

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Elias Corey resuming normal flight after a vertical climb.

 

 

 

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Criss-crossing to form............

 

 

 

 

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.. a huge heart!  Nice finale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As Rob Holland came in for a landing, he was challenged by this Lamborghini racing down the runway at well over 150 MPH.

The airplane held a slight lead.

 

 

 

 

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Then, suddenly, there was this LOUD noise from the far end of the runway.  It sounded like a group of fighter planes taking off.

We saw Elias Corey circle around and start chasing this HUGE semi truck down the runway.  But it wasn't a normal truck.

 

 

 

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It's "ShockWave", a custom-built rig powered by 3 huge Pratt & Whitney jet aircraft engines!

 

Combined horsepower = 36,000 HP

Combined thrust = 21,000 Lbs

 

Top Speed = 350+ MPH  !!!  It holds the record speed for semi-trucks at 376 MPH

 

It is truly an assault on your senses with huge flames coming out of the afterburners on the jet engines, fire shooting out of the smoke stacks,

and deafening noise!  It really is an incredible display of power!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ShockWave races Rob Holland down the 3-mile runway.   It was neck to neck! 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite photos of the day - Rob Holland flies inverted just 50 feet off the ground

while pyrotechnics from ShockWave light up the background.

 

 

 

 

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ShockWave making another full-power run down the runway.  The ground was shaking!

 

 

 

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Another view of ShockWave.  How much fuel do you think he burned in this 20-minute show? 

Probably a few hundred gallons. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A close-up view of ShockWave.  All 3 jet engines are visible here.

 

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT SHOCKWAVE

 

 

 

 

 

Warrior Flight Team Demonstration and Dogfight

 

The Warrior Flight Team is a non-profit organization assisting veterans.

The team flies two Czechoslovakian built L-39 jet trainers, a popular trainer for Warsaw-Pact pilots from the 1970s on.

Very reliable, very agile, and a top speed of 450 MPH.  Many are in private hands now, including these two.

 

 

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"Roman 26" (left) is painted with the Russian star on the tail, and "Vandy 1" (right) is painted in US Navy colors.

 

 

 

 

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They begin the demonstration with some maneuvers at very close distances. 

 

 

 

 

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Another fly-by.

 

 

 

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After a nice demonstration flight, the two planes separated and began a dogfight - two enemy jets trying to shoot each other down.

Of course, these are not armed.

 

 

 

 

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The two pilots maneuvered the planes in tight loops and turns to try to get behind the other, in a "shooting" position.

Very agile planes and two experienced pilots  - easier said than done.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eventually, the "US Navy" plane positioned himself behind the "Russian" plane, which turned on its smoke to signal it lost. (This time) 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THE WARRIOR FLIGHT TEAM

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Navy Blue Angels

 

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.  A total of 17 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels, including 8 fighter pilots and several pilots for support planes such as the C-130.  The demonstration pilots must have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight-hours.  They each serve a 2-year tour with the Blue Angels.

 

Formed in the 1940s, the Blue Angels have flown a variety of aircraft from WWII piston-engine fighters to the current F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter.

 

 

 

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Lined up and ready to go.

 

 

 

 

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One of the F/A-18 Hornet planes used by the Blue Angels.

 

The Hornet has been a front-line, twin-engine fighter/attack plane for the Navy since the early 1980s. 

It has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (appx 1,190 MPH) and a range of 2,000 miles.

It is also designed very ruggedly for carrier take-offs and landings. 

Most impressive is the rate of climb - 50,000 feet per minute.  That's nearly 600 MPH straight up. 

Although the Blue Angels' planes are not armed, the F/A-18 Hornets can carry over 13,000 pounds of munitions. 

 

 

 

 

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Each plane has its own crew who go over a very extensive and thorough checklist before each flight.

Here, they are getting the engine running in preparation for the arrival of the pilots.

 

 

 

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Another crew checking everything!  Then double-checking.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blue Angels pilots arrive. 

 

 

 

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After each pilot does his own checks,  he taxis out to the runway for takeoff.

 

 

 

 

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Time to go.  The ground was shaking with the roar of the jets on full throttle. 

 

 

 

 

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After takeoff, they quickly formed into a tight group and circled the crowd for photos. 

Some of the wingtips are less than 5 feet from the next plane. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brilliant demonstration of the planes' and the pilots' abilities.

 

 

 

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Two of the F/A-18s approach each other head-on at close to 1,000 MPH combined speed. 

It seems like they almost touch as they pass each other directly in front of the crowd.

 

 

 

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Notice something unusual?  They flew by in close formation, with two of the planes inverted.

 

 

 

 

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Then, to show the planes' remarkable low-speed handling ability (and the skill of the pilots),

they make another pass going so slow you wonder how the planes can stay aloft. 

 

 

 

 

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While the crowd is focused on the sky high above, this pilot brings his plane in just above the crowd from behind.  Total surprise! 

 

 

 

 

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Back in formation.

 

 

 

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Another photo pass. 

 

 

 

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As one of the planes pulls up quickly into a high-G climb, a vortex briefly appears above the wing.

As the air pressure decreases rapidly in that spot, so does the temperature and dew point.  This is why water vapor appears.

 

 

 

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That is precision flying!  

 

 

 

 

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Blue Angels performing one of their starburst patterns with smoke.

 

 

 

 

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And now, they do one while coming back down. 

 

 

 

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Grand Finale - Photo 1 of 3  (approaching crowd)

 

 

 

 

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Grand Finale - Photo 2 of 3  (beginning a starburst pattern)

 

 

 

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Grand Finale - Photo 3 of 3  (starburst pattern above the crowd)

 

 

 

 

 

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They made another photo pass before landing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope you enjoyed the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. 

 

 

 

 

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