2018 Great New England Air Show
Great New England Air Show Westover ARB, Chicopee MA July 14-15th, 2018
It has been 3 years since the Great New England Air Show has returned to Westover ARB. I’m not sure why mother nature doesn’t like air shows here, but it’s the 3rd show in a row for them where the weather was a factor. Clouds won out most of the day on Saturday, and top that off with very humid air with very little wind made for some tough shooting conditions when the smoke doesn’t clear.
The Golden Knights opened the show with the National Anthem jump. A KC-135R demo from Altus was to follow. I wish there was a single jet ship demo that could have gone up with him to fly behind and show a mock refueling so people can see how it is done. He made a few passes and did a long low approach almost the full length of the runway.
The home unit, 439th AW and their C-5M Galaxy’s went up next. It’s amazing how different the M model sounds over the A, that distinctive “C-5” whine is no longer there. In fact, the PAO I know said he rarely receives any noise complaints from them working the pattern at bases so he’s very happy about the conversion. On Friday morning, they did a dedication for the last C-5M to convert and was named the Spirit of Chicopee.
Next up was the P-51 Mustang and the Spitfire. Civilian jump team Fast Trax jumped with the largest US Flag. It’s easily the biggest US Flag I’ve ever seen and can’t imagine what it was like to have that below you as you float to the ground. The C-17 Demo took off next, the 437th AW from Charleston SC was the demo bird. It still amazes me how such a large plane can be almost as nimble as a fighter and how it can perform such a tight 360. The Geico Skytypers took off next and preformed their 5 ship demo.
The Prowlers of the Pacific was the next act to fly, these are planes that flew during the battle of Pearl Harbor. They’re made up of an SBD Dauntless, a B5N “Kate” which was the Japanese Navy’s torpedo bomber during much of WWII. The F4U Corsair and the world’s only flying Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. They made multiple passes by the tower doing mock dog fights which allowed great photo opportunities.
A new act for New England filled in for Rob Holland, Bill Stein who is from California. His airplane is the Edge 450 and colors were amazing, it uses a paint that continuously changes colors based on how the light hits it. It reminded me of a mood ring from the early 80’s. After his demo he ended up racing Shockwave, the world’s fastest semi-truck. This truck is equipped with 3 J34-48 P&W jet engines that came out of a Navy T-2 Buckeye. The combined engines offer 36,000 horsepower and 21,000 lbs of thrust.
The Air Force’s Thunderbirds took off next to close the show. Due to the cloud cover they had to perform their low show, but it was still an amazing show to witness. One thing the Great New England Air Show will bring is a tremendous static line up. Each year when they host a show the Friday is almost as exciting to watch with the static jets coming in and wanting to rip up the sky before they park their jets.
Thanks so much to the 439th PAO for allowing me the media access on Friday and for putting on a great show.