Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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2017 Airshows
 
Brunswick, GA   B-25s at Urbana, OH   B-25 Fly-Over the National Museum of the USAF   SC National Guard Air and Ground Expo   Dayton, OH   Goshen, IN   Tarkio, MO   Westfield, MA   Wings over Waukegan, IL   Colorado Springs, CO

South Carolina Guard Air and Ground Expo Warbird Photo Review

Warbirds at McEntire National Guard Base, Columbia, SC - May 6-7, 2017 - Photos taken Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, 2017.



What a way to end two days at the South Carolina Guard Air and Ground Expo!!!  A wall of fire at the end of the best combined arms demonstration seen by the author.  Many of the SC Guard participants of the combined arms demo are in the photo.  In the upper right, two F-16s have just passed parallel to the crowd line in front of four F-16 inbound for an airshow finale fly-over.  In front of the wall of fire is an AH-64 Apache, M1A1SA Abrams, M103 Paladin, and M2A2SA Bradley.  In the foreground is one of the many infantrymen participating in the combined arms demonstration. 

Note that this event has not been labeled an airshow, but an Air and Ground Expo.  This truly describes the intent of the event.  The Expo demonstrated the capabilities of both the Army and Air National Guard in South Carolina.  It more than succeeded.  At the same time, it was one great airshow.  This is the first time since 2009 that McEntire had an event, because units from the base have been deployed overseas seven times in the intervening years.  This was the first time they were all at home together. 

Originally the South Carolina Guard Expo at the McEntire National Guard Base was not on my list of 2017 events.  Somehow, I missed it on the airshow listings during the winter as I planned my 2017 events.  In March I visited the nearby South Carolina Military Museum, where I became aware of the Expo through a conversation with the museum's curator.  That was a very fortuitous conversation.  Once I looked at the scheduled lineup for the show, I knew I needed to come back to the Columbia, SC six weeks later.

There is a limited number of airshow performers, warbirds, parachute teams, and military demos for one to see during the year.  Over the years, I have seen most of them, and will see many of them several times during the 2017 season.  Therefore, the airshows I attend need to have something special to justify the trip.  Often it is part of a larger trip to visit places in the US and Canada I have not been before.  Other times it is to visit one of the many military bases in the US that can only be accessed during an airshow.  This was the case with the Expo at McEntire Guard Base.  But the line-up of military acts and warbirds was impressive enough to justify the trip, even if McEntire wasn't a military base.  The Black Daggers Parachute Team from Fort Bragg, along with the F-22 Demo, and not one, but two F-18 Demos were the military acts.  Warbirds included Matt Younkin's 1943 C-45, the Aeroshell team, two P-51s, an F4U, and a P-40, which is not seen all that often at shows anymore.  The line-up of civilian aerobatic acts was first class.  Last but not least was the combined arms demonstration.  It was unique in my experience, with the participation of M1A1 and M2A2 armored vehicles along with F-16s and helicopters.  It made it stand apart from other airshows I have been to.

Below are a few of the over 1900 photos I took at the Expo.  For brevity, I have picked those that captured the essence of  the event.


The main gate of the McEntire Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center.  I thought McEntire Guard Base was only an F-16 base.  During my time at the Expo I learned it is home to 60 aircraft.  This includes not only SC Air Guard F-16 Wild Weasels, but Army Guard Aviation UH-60s, UH-72s, CH-47s and AH-64s.  The 2,500 acre base is home for 4,000 guardsmen and guardswomen.  Its origin goes back to World War Two, when it was a US Marine Corps Auxiliary Facility.


Now this is a hot ramp!  Normally this is one of the SC Army Guard's helicopter ramps.  Included are F-22s, F-18s from both the US Navy and the Canadian Forces, two P-51s, a Corsair, a P-40, the Aeroshell T-6s, AH-64s, and UH-60s. 



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This is the other hot ramp for the armor.  This is the only airshow I have been to that had a hot ramp for the participating armor.


Having the Army Guard as a co-participant brought out a static area of ground equipment not normally seen at an airshow.




On the ramp was a Lockheed-Martin T-50A, which is one of the two aircraft in competition to replace the Northrop T-38.  If Lockheed-Martin wins the completion, the trainers will be built in Greenville, SC.


A UH-72 Lakota of the SC Army National Guard.

Showtime!!


This was another first for me.  Two jumpers bringing the flag down.  The US Army Black Daggers from Fort Bragg, NC have raised the bar on flag jumps.


Sunday's unplanned event number one.  There were three in total, and all at the beginning of the show.  Here a Black Dagger lands using his reserve chute.


The opening fly-over after the flag jump by the SC Air National Guard.


Sunday's unplanned event number two.  The Twin Tiger aerobatic team circled the jumpers, and then went into a short "teaser" act.  Mark Sorenson had an oil line rupture during one of the aerobatic maneuvers, and had to make an emergency landing.  He repaired the leak, and returned for the main act later in the day.


Unplanned event number three.  The Canadian CF-18 Demo taxies back in after stopping the act five minutes into the routine.  This is not the normal CF-18 aircraft, which was not able to make the trip due to a maintenance issue.


The airboss ran a tight show.  No sooner had the CF-18 landed than the SC Army UH-60 from McEntire was show center demonstrating a water drop.  The SC Army Guard gets involved in helping to extinguish forest fires in the state.  This is 800 gallons of water being dropped.


The same UH-60 then demonstrated its ability to airlift this 6,000 lb. Humvee.  A soldier is making the connecting the towline to the UH-60's hook.


Matt Younkin always wears a red shirt during his routine. 


The crowd line was located on a former runway that is now a taxiway.  Without a runway in front of the crowd, it was not possible to have a jet truck perform, as is the practice at most shows.  The organizers instead brought in a monster truck which operated very well on the grass.  This act brought all the kids to the front line to watch.


Warbird time!  Doug Matthews put the F-86 through the paces for the crowd.


The P-40 "The Jackie C" from the American Airpower Museum in a photo pass.  It did an aerobatic routine, which I was not expecting, but was a most welcome surprise!  I cannot remember the last time I saw a P-40 doing aerobatics. 


The F-86 and P-40 aerobatic routines were immediately followed by Jim Tobul in his F4U-4 Corsair.


Finishing out the warbird portion of the show were several formation passes by P-51, F4U and P-40. 


 


 


The F-22 wowed the crowd as it always does.


It is getting close to the combined forces routine, as the Apaches and Blackhawk air taxi out in preparation for the act.


Then the F-22 and P-51 Heritage Flight aircraft taxied back in.


There were excellent crowds on both days.  This is a small section of the crowd that extends beyond the tents at airshow center. 


One of two M109 Paladins moves into place for the combined arms act. 


In the background two M1A1 Abrams move down a dirt road to get into position.  In watching them and the Bradleys move down the road, I was impressed with how fast they were moving.  I am used to watching WWII era M4 and M5 tanks move very slowly in re-enactments.  The contrast in speeds was surprising.  The Abrams can haul ass!!!


F-16s initiated the attack on the objective which was a supply of chemical weapons. 


As they would in combat, the F-16s attacked the target from several directions.


The scenario evolves into the rescue of a downed pilot.


Then the close air support of the AH-64 was demonstrated.


A strafing run.


Up until this point, the fighter and helicopter portion of the act is similar to others I have seen.  The next part set the SC Guard Expo apart from all the others.  Two Abrams and two Bradleys start for the crowd as the AH-64 moves into position to provide close air support.  The other end of the crowd line has an identical group heading towards it.


The amour moved up right to the crowd.  In the center of the photo, a second smoke grenade can be seen that has been tossed towards the crowd.


This portion of the show was up close and personal!


The turrets on the vehicles were always moving, looking for targets.


In the background the UH-60 is turning inbound to pick up the downed pilot.


When the turrets and the barrels of the weapons were pointed away from the crowd, the armored vehicles covered the rescue with fire from their automatic weapons.


Infantry has been added and is also firing blanks to suppress enemy fired during the pilot rescue.


The Apache takes up a guard position behind the rescue helicopter, and will escort it on the way out.


A perspective of the field on Sunday from the far-right end of the crowd line.


The timing of the F-16 aishow finale fly-over was different on Saturday from Sunday.  On Saturday, the fly-over was first.


Today's tank crews not only have a helmet for protection, but a plastic covering for the nose and mouth.  This gives them a fearsome Star Wars stormtrooper appearance. 


But without the protective headgear the crews are just young soldiers from the SC Army National Guard.

None of the fighters, helicopters, nor armor can take off or move without trained crews.  The crew, from the M1A1 Abrams in the background, comes to greet the crowd and their families.  Several wives and children of National Guardsmen were sitting around me on Sunday, watching their husbands and fathers in the combined arms event.

Hopefully the South Carolina National Guard will be able to have another Expo sooner than in another seven years.  Whenever they do, I plan to return. 

 

Side trips on the way to the show.
This was a quick turnaround event.  Two days driving, and two days at the show.  However, I was able to stop at one Revolutionary battlefield in South Carolina on the way down.

Kings Mountain National Military Park, Blacksburg, SC


Kings Mountain was scene of a crucial Patriot victory over Loyalist forces in a one hour battle on Saturday, October 7, 1780.


As with all National Park facilities, there is a modern visitor center with informaiton to explain what happened at Kings Mountain before one walks the battleground.


The Loyalist commander at the battle was Major Patrick Ferguson, the only British soldier on the field.  Major Ferguson invented and patented the breach loading rifle on display in 1776.  This weapon allowed a soldier to reload from various positions, instead of the standing position as required by both the Loyalist's muskets, and the Patriot's rifles. 

Major Ferguson was considered to be the best marksman in the British Army.  Just before the start of the battle at Brandywine, PA in September 1977, Major Ferguson was positioned at the edge of a woods, and had a Patriot officer on his horse in the sights of his rifle.  He did not fire as it was not considered a proper way to fight a war at the time.  He learned later the officer he could have easily shot was George Washington.

The Major was killed at Kings Moutain.


Along the trail through the battlefield is a section of the original road.


Looking up from the bottom of Kings Mountain.  The mountain is only 100 feet tall.  The original native forest was considerably different than what is on the mountain today.  There was no undergrowth and the trees were spaced farther apart.  It was possible to see all the way up the mountain where the Loyalist forces were.  The Patriots attacked from the bottom after surrounding the Loyalists.  There were 1,000 Loyalists and 900 Patriots that engaged in the one hour battle.

The Loyalists made several bayonet charges down the hill.  The Patriots had to retreat as they had no defense against the bayonet.  Each time the Patriots would fade back into the woods, and the Loyalists would retreat back up the mountain.  As the Loyalists became exhausted from the repeated climb back to the top, the Patriots were finally able to over run the Loyalist's position.


The 1.5 mile trail of the battlefield has numerous information signs along the way.


The over mountain men had, to a large part, had stayed neutral in the American Revolution until Major Ferguson threatened to burn their homes and farms.  Then they came together to make sure this did not happen.


There are numerous monuments along the trail.  This one is at the top of the hill where the Loyalist forces were located.

 

 


 
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
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Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
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Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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