California Capital Air Show 2012

In September 2012 I headed to Sacramento to go to the California Capital Air Show. Held at Mathers Airport each year, the air show attracts big crowds to see a great collection of historical and modern-day aircraft from military, law enforcement, commercial and private operators. I went on the Saturday and the weather was perfect – warm with clear blue skies. Great for flying!

California Capital Air Show 2012
Let the show begin!
Sacramento Air Show 2012
Opening ceremony

The historical aircraft flying displays include a great line up of classic warbirds such as the Gumman F6F Hellcat, Grumman F8F Bearcat, Lockheed P-38 Lightning (along with a solo display the P-38 “Honey Bunny” was also involved in a race with a jet powered car and flew with an F-16 in the USAF Heritage Flight display), North American P-51D Mustang, Vought F4U Corsair and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV. Seeing some of the greatest fighter aircraft of World War Two still gracing the skies 70 years later is always a wonderful sight!

Grumman F8F Bearcat F6F Hellcat California Capital Air Show 2012
Bearcat & Hellcat
Lockheed P-38 Lightning races a jet car at California Capital Air Show 2012
Honey Bunny vs the jet car (the result was a draw)
USAF Heritage Flight F-16 P-38 California Captial Air Show 2012
USAF Heritage Flight
North American P-51D Mustang Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV Sacramento 2012
North American P-51D Mustang & Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV
Vought F4U Corsair California Capital Air Show 2012
Vought F4U Corsair

Aerobatic pilots included Sean D. Tucker in his Oracle Challenger III, Tim Weber in a GEICO Extra 300, Kent Pietsch with is comical display in the Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet (bits fall off the aircraft and he does a lot of crazy stunts including landing on a platform fitted to a moving pickup truck!) and Eddie Andreini in a modified Boeing Stearman doing some good old-fashioned barnstorming. Great Stuff!

Oracle Challenger III Sean D. Tucker
Oracle Challenger III
Oracle Challenger III Sacramento 2012
Oracle Challenger III
Sean D Tucker Oracle Challenger III
Sean D. Tucker taking it low and slow
Tim Weber GEICO Extra 300 Caliornia Capital Air Show 2012
A low pass in the GEICO Extra 300
Tim Weber GEICO Extra 300
GEICO Extra 300
Tim Weber in a GEICO Extra 300
Tim Weber in a GEICO Extra 300
Kent Pietsch Interstate Cadet California Capital Air Show 2012
Kent Pietsch in the Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet
Kent Pietsch in the Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet landing on moving pickup truck
Kent Pietsch landing on a moving pickup truck!
Boeing Stearman California Capital Air Show 2012 Eddie Andreini
Eddie Andreini flying a Boeing Stearman
Boeing Stearman cutting a ribbon upside down Eddie Andreini
About to cut the ribbon
Boeing Stearman Eddie Andreini
Cutting the ribbon upside down!

Civilian formation flying was also a major feature of the air show. The Red Stars put on some fast formation flying in their Nanchang CJ-6’s (4 ship formation) and the West Coast Ravens flew in a large formation of 16 homebuilt RV aircraft.

The Red Stars Nanchang CJ-6 Sacramento California Capital Air Show 2012
The Red Stars
West Coast Ravens 16 ship formation california capital air show 2012 Homebuilt RV Aircraft
West Coast Ravens

The US Coast Guard did a fly by in their search and rescue Lockheed HC-130H Hercules and although they did not bring a helicopter along for flight displays their was a Sacramento Fire Department fire bombing helicopter display in a Bell UH-1 Iriquois. This was the only helicopter display for the day.

Lockheed HC-130H Hercules US Coast Guard
Lockheed HC-130H Hercules
Sacramento Fire Dept Bell UH-1 Fire Bomber California Capital Air Show
Metro Fire 1

The  USAF also put on some great displays flying the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (or the Viper as it is called nowadays), McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender along with formation flights by Northrop T-38 Talon’s and the always impressive USAF Thunderbirds display team also equipped with the F-16 to end the show. It was great to meet some of the Thunderbirds pilots after the show too. They were smiling, joking and happy to pose for photos, sign autographs etc. Not bad considering the very exerting aerobatic display they had just completed!

F-16 take off california capital air show 2012
F-16 take off
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Viper USAF
F-16
General Dynamics F-16 Sacramento
F-16 power
USAF McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender California Capital Air Show 2012
KC-10 Extender
USAF Northrop T-38 Talon
USAF Northrop T-38 Talon’s
USAF Thunderbirds on the ground F-16 California Capital Air Show
USAF Thunderbirds prior to take-off
USAF Thunderbirds
Thunderbirds are go!
USAF Thunderbirds 6 ship formation California Capital Air Show 2012
Full team pass
USAF Thunderbirds F-16 California Capital Air Show 2012
Thunderbirds impress
F-16 close pass USAF THunderbirds
Close pass
USAF Thunderbirds F-16 California Capital Air Show 2012
Four ship top side pass
USAF Thunderbirds F-16 mirror image pass
Mirror image
USAF Thunderbirds display pilots
The Thunderbirds

On top of all the action in the skies the static displays were many and varied from warbirds to strategic bombers. The USAF displays included large transports such as the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, the mighty Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber (the H model was built from 1961 to 1962 – 50 years young!), the slow-moving but deadly Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft, the unique Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey of the 20th Special Operations Squadron the “Green Hornets” and a Beech MC-12W Liberty intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. The US Navy had a Lockeed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a Northrop F-5N Tiger II “Aggressor” (used to simulate enemy air to air combat) on display too.

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy California Capital Air Show 2012 Sacramento
C-5 Galaxy
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III California Capital Air Show 2012
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress USAF Sacramento 2012
B-52H
A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II – the “Warthog”
A-10 Thunderbolt II 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon California Capital Air Show 2012
The business end of the “Warthog”
A-10 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon
30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon
Bell-Boeing OV-22 Osprey California Capital Air Show Sacramento 2012
Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey
Beech MC-12W Liberty Sacramento 2012
Beech MC-12W Liberty
US Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion Northrop F-5N Tiger II Agressor California Capital Air Show 2012
P-3 Orion and F-5N Tiger II aggressor
USAF Northrop T-38 Talon California Capital Air Show 2012 Sacramento
USAF Northrop T-38 Talon’s

The absolute stand out of the military displays for me was to finally see a USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady not only closeup on the ground but also in the air. The ability of this slow but graceful spy plane to quickly go from low altitude to about 70,000 feet is very impressive!

Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady USAF
Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady
Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady California Capital Air Show 2012
Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady
Lockheed U-2 California Capital Air Show 2012 Sacramento
The graceful lines of the Dragonlady
Lockheed U-2 Dragonlady Sacramento
The massive wings of the Dragonlady

Warbirds on static display other than those already mentioned included a Curtiss P-40 WarhawkNorth American B-25J Mitchell, North American T-6 Texan’s (Harvard) and North American T-28 Trojans. There were also numerous North American P-51D Mustangs and Nanchang CJ-6’s. The static displays had something to suit all interests and overall the California Capital Air Show was a fantastic event that I really enjoyed and one I would recommend you attend if you can get there.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk California Capital Air Show 2012
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
North American T-6 Texan Harvard Boeing Stearman California Capital Air Show 2012
T-6 Texans (Harvards) and a Boeing Stearman
North American P-51D Mustang California Capital Air Show 2012
P-51D Mustang “Comfortably Numb”
Bell AH-1 Cobra California Capital Air Show 2012
Bell AH-1 Cobra
North American B-25 Mitchell Old Glory
North American B-25 Mitchell “Old Glory”
North American T-28 Trojan
North American T-28 Trojan’s
Sacramento Police Department UH-1
Sacramento Police Department
P-51D Mustang "Daddy's Girl" California Capital Air Show 2012
P-51D Mustang “Daddy’s Girl”
Nanchang CJ-6
Nanchang CJ-6
Grumman F8F Bearcat California Capital Air Show 2012
Grumman F8F Bearcat
Sacramento Mounted Police
Sacramento Mounted Police – biggest police horses I have ever seen!
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