Gunfighter Skies 2014 – Open House Static Aircraft Displays

Gunfighter Skies 2014 USAF Mountain Home AFB Idaho
USAF Mountain Home AFB

Gunfighter Skies 2014 was held at Mountain Home USAF base in Idaho over the weekend of September 20th to 21st, 2014. The air displays were the main feature of the open house, but what’s an air show without lots of static displays to check out so you can get a closer look at all kinds of military aircraft. This show offered plenty of types new and old.

Given this was a USAF show they had the most types on display including combat aircraft, trainers and support aircraft. Fighters, bombers, trainers, helicopters, tankers and transports were all on the tarmac during Gunfighter Skies 2014.

USAF Combat Aircraft were well presented. They included the McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagle (multi-role fighter), Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (this fifth generation multi-role fighter is the latest in the US arsenal), General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (multi-role fighter), Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (close support / ground attack), Rockwell B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bomber and the mighty ageless Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagles of 366th Fighter Wing based at Mountain Home Gunfighter Skies 2014
USAF F-15E Strike Eagles of 366th Fighter Wing the “Gunfighters” based at Mountain Home
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II JSF Gunfighter Skies 2014
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II JSF
Rockwell B-1B Lancer bomber Gunfighter Skies 2014
Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bomber
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber Gunfighter Skies 2014 Mountain Home Idaho
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber
Minnesota Air National Guard F-16CM's of  the 148th Fighter Wing the "Bulldogs"  gunfighter Skies 2014
Minnesota Air National Guard F-16CM’s of the 148th Fighter Wing the “Bulldogs”
Minnesota Air National Guard F-16CM's of  the 148th Fighter Wing the "Bulldogs"  Mountain Home Idaho
Minnesota Air National Guard F-16CM’s of the 148th Fighter Wing the “Bulldogs”
Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II of the Idaho Air National Guard 124th Fighter Wing Gunfighter Skies 2014
Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II of the Idaho Air National Guard 124th Fighter Wing – the devasting 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon dominates this legendary close support / ground attack aircraft

Various USAF Support aircraft that keep the military mobile were on hand. These included Tankers: Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker and Douglas KC-10 Extender; Transports: Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III; TrainersBeechcraft T-6 Texan II, Northrop T-38 Talon and Raytheon T-1 Jayhawk; and Helicopters: Bell UH-1N Iroquois.

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Gunfighter Skies 2014
Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender tanker Gunfighter Skies 2014 Mountain Home AFB
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender tanker
Lockheed C-130 Hercules Gunfighter Skies USAF
Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Gunfighter Skies 2014 Mountain Home AFB USAF
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and Northrop T-38 Talon trainers Mountain Home AFB USAF
Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and Northrop T-38 Talon trainers
USAF Raytheon T-1 Jayhawk and Northrop T-38 Talon with the cockpit canopies open Gunfighter Skies 2014
Raytheon T-1 Jayhawk and Northrop T-38 Talon with the cockpit canopies open
Bell UH-1N Iroquois Gunfighter Skies 2014 Idaho
Bell UH-1N Iroquois

The USAF aircraft were joined by a US-Navy Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare fighter, German Luftwaffe Panavia Tornado IDS strike aircraft (some are based in the US for training purposes) and RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagles that are based at Mountain Home for training purposes. Civilian aircraft and warbirds on static display included a Stinson L-5 Sentinel, Grumman S-2 Tracker and a Lockheed PV-2 HarpoonAttu Warrior“.

US Navy Boeing EA-18G Growler Gunfighter Skies 2014
US Navy Boeing EA-18G Growler from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington
German Luftwaffe Panavia Tornado IDS strike aircraft Gunfighter Skies 2014 Mountain Home AFB Idaho
German Luftwaffe Panavia Tornado IDS strike aircraft
RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle  Gunfighter Skies 2014
RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle – a popular display!
Stinson L-5 Sentinel & Grumman S-2 Tracker Gunfighter Skies 2014
Stinson L-5 Sentinel & Grumman S-2 Tracker
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon "Attu Warrior" (maritime patrol) gunfighter skies
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon “Attu Warrior” (maritime patrol)

The great thing about an open house event like this is that most of the aircraft were not roped off so you could wander around and take a close look (exceptions were those fitted with weaponry displays and top-secret aircraft such as the F-35). The crews of most aircraft were on hand to answer questions, show you the cockpit and so forth (and to sell their cool merchandise).

Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF Gunfighter Skies 2014
I was pretty happy to see the F-35!
F-35 USAF RAAF Medallion Coin
A cool memento from Gunfighter Skies 2014 with a touch of Aussie flavor (the RAAF are planning to operate the F-35 too)

An interesting display was the assembly of an MQ-1B Predator drone from the carrier case they ship them about in. Each day they would unpack and assemble the drone and answer plenty of questions. The first thing you notice is how lightweight and almost flimsy these drones are, yet they are highly effective military assets in frontline combat situations.

Predator Drone Gunfighter Skies 2014 Mountain Home AFB Idaho USAF
Predator Drone

As always because Gunfighter Skies 2014 was at an active airbase there was an element of high security at the event (limitations on what could be carried into the base especially) but this was well handled and the security lines were quick. Security was present around the flight line with heavily armed air force personnel and security dogs but it was not overbearing and they were all smiles (as long as you are on the right side!). To my knowledge everyone was well-behaved and just enjoyed the show.

Gunfighter Skies 2014 Security Forces Police Dogs
Gunfighter Skies 2014 Security Forces

The parking situation was a little interesting. The parking lots were almost 2 miles away from the main show area but they had plenty of shuttle buses to ferry you back and forth. I actually walked each day so I could take a closer look at all the F-15E Strike Eagles and even some F-15 Eagles out on the base rapid response open hangars. The car parks themselves were all dirt, which left my rental car looking in a sad state of affairs by the end of the day (I felt sorry for the military police out their directing traffic in the heat and dust)!

USAF F-15 Eagles & F-15E Strike Eagles on ready alert Mountain Home AFB Idaho
USAF F-15 Eagles & F-15E Strike Eagles on ready alert
Dusty car Gunfighter skies 2014 Idaho
A tad dusty out in the car park at Mountain Home!

This was by now means a huge air show but there was still plenty to see and a great diversity of aircraft, so it was an enjoyable one. They say there may not be another Gunfighter Skies for some time (budget constraints), so I am glad I made it out to Idaho for this one.

Gunfighter Skies 2014 Air Show
A happy day
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