Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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 2015 Airshows
Titusville (Tico), FL   Virginia Beach, VA   Seymour Johnson AFB, NC   Halls, TN   Warsaw, IN   B-29 Air Power Tour Fort Wayne, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Bellevue MI

Tico 2015 Warbird Airshow Photo Review
Warbirds at Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, FL - March 13-15, 2015  

  This is my fifth visit since 2007 in starting the airshow season off at the Tico Airshow at the Space Coast Regional Airport along the Florida Space Coast, with four of those visits to the event occurring since 2012.  While not a show that is known for a large and changing assortment of warbirds, it is rather predictable in which warbirds will be present and perform each year.  Predictable are formation fly-bys by T-34s, T-6s and T-28s.  Since 2012 the Sky Soldiers have been on site for rides in their Hueys and Cobras. The A-4 Skyhawk that is now hangared at the Valiant Air Command's Museum is now a yearly performer along with the F-104 that is located in the state.  B-25 fly-bys along with several fighter demos round out the warbird flying each year.

This year the USAF Thunderbirds returned for their second visit and flew all three days of the show, while in 2013 the group only flew on Saturday and Sunday, making for a definite improvement for the Friday spectators this year.  Another change and welcome new act this year were the Sky Soldiers who performed their Rescue at Dawn Cobra and Huey attack scenario. 

And all three days at the show the temperature was in the mid 80s (Deg. F) with lots of sunshine.  Let me repeat that.  Each day it was in the mid 80s with lots of sunshine.  After suffering through more mornings this past winter that I want to remember when I woke up to temperatures that were below 0 Deg. F for days on end, the weather at Tico was almost worth the trip itself.  It sure was an added bonus.

Once the show gets going it is constant motion as there are always warbirds starting, taxiing out of the west ramp, warbirds taking off, flying, landing and then taxiing back into the west ramp where I am located. 



This photo of my "Airshow Truck" is significant in two respects.  The first is that the truck is actually sitting in the parking lot of the show.  In 2014 while enroute the truck engine spun the number two rod bearing on I-95 just south of Savannah, GA, and I did the rest of the trip in a rental car.  So this year the truck is where it is supposed to be, at the Show, rather than an auto repair shop in Richmond Hill, GA, like it was a year earlier. 

And the second reason is that last year the O-2s in the background were identified as "Top Secret" aircraft by some of the airshow personnel and spectators weren't allowed to get close to them.  It must be it was decided they were no longer "Top Secret" as this year, as the show obviously parked vehicles next to them, and people walked by the aircraft all three days to get to the show.


The Valiant Air Command's C-47 "Tico Belle" was a workhorse at the show in 2015, going up three different times each day during the event.  Here she is taxiing by before the show starts with the flag jumpers aboard.


The first flag jump for 2015.


Gene McNeely circled the jumpers for the show opener and then went right into his aerobatic routine.  There is nothing like the sound of a T-6 doing aerobatics to start off the warbird airshow season. 


After Gene flew there were two civilian aerobatic acts which then led into Doug Matthews flying his F-86.


I have had occasion to visit the Warbird Museum several times during the summer over the past several years when I have been on family vacation in the area during the summer.  This TBM has been in various states of reconstruction on each visit.  Now the engine runs and the wings fold.  It is unknown whether the VAC will fly the aircraft along with their C-47 or not, although I would hope so.  


Doug Matthews taxies on the west ramp before his F-86 aerobatic routine.  Taking up residence on the west end of the spectator line for the weekend allowed me to hear the engine startups and smell not only the jet exhaust from the F-86 and A-4 but the smell of the exhaust from the piston powered engines.  All part of the experience.


One of the great attributes' of the Tico show is that the aircraft can taxi very close in front of the crowd.


After the F-86 demo, the show presented the trainer formation fly-bys.  Here, the three T-34s that flew take off in formation.


After the F-86 taxied back in, the Mustang started while the trainers were flying.


B-25 "Killer Bee" making one of several low bombing passes each day.


B-25 "Pancito" making a open bomb bay run from the opposite direction.


While the WWII aircraft are flying, the A-4 starts and taxies out of the pits to be ready to launch when the WWII aircraft have recovered.  The cyclone fence is a temporary barrier, set up for the show.  In 2014 the show used snow fence, or whatever it is called in Florida, which made for better photo taking.


To my knowledge, this is only one of three A-4s currently flying at airshows, so it is always a treat to see it fly each year at the Tico show.


The C-45 and C-47 doing a fly-by for the crowd.


Both the A-4 and F-104 used Runway 18 as it is the longer of the two runways at Tico.  Waiting to taxi back in on the east side of Runway18 is B-25 "Killer Bee".


The A-4 showed its maneuverability several times at the show by being able to stay within eyesight of the spectators when coming around the backside of the show for another pass.  Fast and nimble, in combat it was able to get back on target in a hurry.  The F-104, which flew later in the day, needed a good percentage of Florida to turn around in.








The C-47 was in the air three times each day.  The first for the flag jump, then the WWII warbird fly-bys and finally for the WWII round chute jump.  This is the second year for the round chute jump at Tico, and here we can see one jumper in the air with a second coming out the door.


Saturday the winds took the jumpers across the runway.


Jet cars, trucks and school buses are pretty much standard fare at most shows these days.  Normal practice is for a solo run and then a race against an aircraft, which is usually a small aerobatic performer.  What is not standard is the race plane being a P-51 Mustang, as was used here.  This is the first time I have seen a warbird race a jet vehicle, with the Mustang is leading but the jet car catching up on the far right.




Here the jet car has passed the Mustang and is deploying its chute.  Typically the jet vehicle gives the aircraft a head start and then tries to overtake the aircraft and win the race, as was the case on Saturday.  On Sunday, the jet car started too late, or was not ready, and never did catch the Mustang.  It never even came close.

What would make for a really interesting race at Tico would be a jet vehicle vs. the F-104.  As fast at the Starfighter is, I would think the jet vehicle would need a head start.  The F-104 only has one speed, and that is fast.

In the background is one of the Sky Soldier Cobras waiting to come in for its act.


And in they come.


An group re-enactors is taking fire from hostiles and needs fire support from the Cobras and evacuation by a Huey.


The Huey flares for its landing.


At the right one of the re-enactors heads for the evacuation Huey.


Outbound.


Pass in review.


The F-104 is always last on the schedule at Tico, with the exception of the Thunderbirds, and is always anticipated by warbird enthusiasts.  And it spends a lot of time in afterburner, as seen here.




And most people are watching and listening to the big J79 engine in it.


The unfortunate smoke trail associated with the J79 engine.


Until it goes into burner.


What is most impressive about the F-104 is its ability to climb out of sight in no time at all.  After making a high speed approach to air show center, the F-104 pulls into the vertical and very quickly disappears out of sight.  The F-104 is owned by the Starfighters, which contracts to NASA to make sure fledgling astronauts can take the g forces associated with the takeoff of a space launch.


The USAF Thunderbirds helped bring in some large crowds all three days this year.  Here is their opening pass on Saturday.

  The long drive to Tico always makes me wonder each year before I leave whether the show is worth the trip.  The combination of warbirds of several different eras starting, taxiing and flying for several hours in the warm Florida sunshine at Tico always leaves me most satisfied at the end of each day, and then when the weekend is over.  This year was not exception.  Once again it was worth the trip.

Side trips
Airshow trips, such as the one to Tico from Indiana can be long and tedious, especially as I drive them by myself.  On most trips I try to include visiting historical sites along the way to broaden my knowledge and add some variety.  The 2015 Tico trip is typical of the stops I make while in transit to a show.

Battle of Cowpens


Twenty miles east of I-26 just south of the North Carolina border in South Carolina is the site of the January 17,1781 Revolutionary War battle between the American and British forces at the Battle of Cowpens.  This monument sits outside the welcome center and museum.  The name of the battle came about as it was in this area that local farmers took their cattle to graze before being sending them to market.


This is the actual battlefield.  At this location stood the first line of the Americans.  Coming down Green River Road were British forces.  Today one can walk the battlefield to understand what happened here that cold January morning and the importance of the resulting American victory.
 

 Fort Caroline


Ten miles east of Jacksonville, FL, the National Park Service has recreated a scale model of Fort Caroline, which was built by French colonists in 1564, making it the first European colony in North America since the Vikings left approximately 100 years earlier.


The landward side of the fort was an earthen embankment, while the side towards the St. Johns River was a wooden palisade.


Looking west in the early morning at Fort Caroline.  No remnants of the original fort have been found due to the shifting of the river since 1564.  The Spanish took exception to the French colony in Florida and destroyed the fort a year after it was built.  They then constructed  their own fortress.  In 1568 the French returned and drove the Spanish out, and then abandoned the fort and the area. 

Windover Archaeological Site


On leaving the show on Sunday for the return trip home, I stopped by this historical marker that is several miles to the west of the airport and just to the east of I-95.  Many times on trips to Florida I have driven within a 1/2 mile of this location, unaware of its historical significance.  Not stated here on the sign but found in the research was that the DNA indicated European descent, giving credence to the theory that the some of first Americans migrated along the North Atlantic ice during the last Ice Age to reach the east coast.


The site was found when during excavation of the road for the new housing complex now known as Windover Farms.

Titusville (Tico), FL   Virginia Beach, VA   Seymour Johnson AFB, NC   Halls, TN   Warsaw, IN   B-29 Air Power Tour Fort Wayne, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Bellevue MI
 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows  
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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