Burlington Vt Airshow - 60th Anniversary 158th FW
2006 Burlington VT, flown over Lake Champlain. Aug 19-20 featuring the USAF Thunderbirds
This was my first airshow up at Burlington Vt. The 158th FW were celebrating their 60th Anniversary in style with an airshow over Lake Champlain. They also had the F-15E Strike Eagle Demo team, the East Coast F-18C Demo team, The Army's Golden Knights Parachute team, John Klatt in the ANG sponsored S-300D. Also performing was Ed Shipley in his F-86, Don Majercik in his Pitts Special S-2B, a P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and a P-51 Mustang all from the American Airpower Museum. The Collings Foundation had a TBM Avenger and the F4U-Corsair flown by Dan McCue
I arrived in Burlington around 7:30am and met Col. Lloyd Goodrow of the Public Affairs Office of the 158th FW. We met up with another photographer and Capt Day brought us around for our photo ops. The F-18 team had already arrived as had the Thunderbirds. But the ramp was bare and waiting for all the aircraft to arrive. Because Burlington International is a civilian airport shared with the ANG, they were going to do the flying displays over Lake Champlain on Saturday, and the Open House on base Sunday.
Our first photo subjects were 6 local F-16s departing to make some room on the ramp. Around 9:15 the Golden Knights arrived, and then the Strike Eagle demo & Ed Shipley at 9:30. We were able to catch the Thunderbirds Ferry C-17 depart which was from McChord. Next to arrive was Dan McCue in the F4U Corsair and a T-37 Tweet. I was invited up in the Golden Knights jump ship for their practice jump. I was fortunate this time to get a window seat which gives some very exciting views. After going over the safety instructions especially not to touch our seatbelts while in flight, we started to taxi.
We flew over the Lake Champlain drop point so they could get a bearing on the wind. After a few adjustment passes they dropped the streamers. As the 3 Golden Knight jumpers watched the streamers fall in the wind, they had the plane start it's climb for the narrator to depart which was around 10,000ft. Another 5 minutes had passed and now it was the rest of the teams turn to jump. 3 out each door, 2 had their backs out the door, and the third had them by the belt. In a instant they were gone and dropping fast. From the right side of the aircraft it was difficult to see them fall as we circled counter-clockwise around the drop zone. They had a 20x20 grass spot near the USCG station to hit. As we circled our way down to the landing pattern back at the airport, I took in the view from the open door which was incredible.
We had touched down and taxied to the parking ramp across from the Thunderbirds. It was their scheduled practice time so we made it over to the line to capture them boarding their aircraft in sync with each other. The major down fall of being on the ramp this day was you were shooting into the sun, and the show was over the lake, and not the field. You could see them slightly off in the distance, and at times they would fly over the airport for their next approach to show center. After the completion of the Thunderbirds practice, the Strike Demo and Ed Shipley were cleared to take off. While they departed for their practice, 2 A-10s from the 104th FW flew in, the P-47, and P-40 arrived and parked near the front hanger. After the Strike Demo and the F-86 landed, that was it for the practices, now the remaining static aircraft would fly in. We had 2 Harriers from VMA-231, one of those done up in the CAG paint scheme. Then came in a second P-40 and the Glamorous Gal P-51 Mustang, 2 T-38s from Beale AFB, T-6II and a T-45 Goshawk.
Again, weather played a part in this airshow. I woke up early and was able to park right along the water, after staking out what area looked the best Friday night, I decided the area near the boat ramp would be best for lighting. Problem was the clouds were coming in and the afternoon forecast was for showers. The center line was a break water just out a ways. The Golden Knights opened Saturday with their jump, their landing zone wasn't close to us so I couldn't see them land. John Klatt was next up and he was followed by a fly by with 2 A-10s & 2 F-16s. The Vipers did 2 fast fly bys, while the 2 A-10s did strafing runs on a make believe target to simulate how they would operate. The WWII aircraft came flying in next, 2 P-40s, a P-47 and the P-51 Mustang.
After a short wait, the F-18 demo was next followed by the F-15E Strike Demo with Ed Shipley in his F-86. Both the F-18 and F-15E were full a glow with their burners on which also presented many vapor shots due to all the low clouds and humidity in the air. A passing shower that rolled across the lake caused a 15 minute wait which caused many viewers to run for cover. Just before the shower ended, the USCG Jayhawk came out for some passes and gave some great photo ops right in front of the Coast Guard Station. The Thunderbirds took off next and formed up over the airport and flew over the crowd from behind us. This provided a different show start than most viewers see while at the airbase. Because of the low clouds they were restricted to their low show, but did give us 2 spectacular "sneak passes", the second one really brought the remaining crowd to their feet!
Many thanks to the 158th FW for their 60th Anniversary, and the PAO for the warm welcome they gave me Friday. I look forward to working with them in the future.