Thunder Over New Hampshire
It had been 10 years since the Pease and the Air Force Thunderbirds had an air show at the former Pease AFB. Due to COVID, it’s was 3 years since my last air show. So I was so excited to have Portsmouth and the 157th ARW not cancel the show as this is my home airport where my passion for aviation was born. The bad part of shows at Portsmouth is you have to shoot into the sun all afternoon and lighting was difficult with the sun in and out of the clouds and a haze in the air on this hot weekend.
A Rhode Island C-130J from the 143rd AW was the Jump Ship for the US Special Ops Jump team. As they climbed for the National Anthem, Mike Wiskus in his Lucas Oil S-1-11B known as the Super Stinker. The VT ANG’s F-35s had taken off prior and came back to make a few passes to show off the 158th FW’s new toys. They had just transitioned out of their F-16’s to be the first guard unit with F-35’s.
Greg Coyer in his T-33 Shooting Star took center stage next. His other plane that flies on the West Coast was in one of the old alert Quonset hangers at Pease for a long time. Then local pilot Rob Holland took off for a quick intro demo. Then it was time for the F-22 to rock the show line, the way this plane moves and just amazing and leaves the crowd in awe. On Sunday we were treated with a Charleston C-17 that had stopped in overnight from Europe. On his departure during the show, he asked if he could make a few passes which was a nice add.
P-51 Quick Silver flown by Bill Yoak went up after the Raptor demo landed for some beautiful passes. Then Mike Wiskus took off again so he could race the Jet Truck Coinforce.com. The 157th new tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus went up for a demo. The ARW had just transitioned out of the KC-135 which had been at Pease for over 60 years. 2019 the last KC-135 departed for the AZ ANG. The units first KC-46A arrived on 8/8/19.
Now it was time for the main act, the USAF Thunderbirds. It was a great end to a fantastic show. The sneak pass performed by female pilot Michelle “Mace” Curran, who will finish out her 3rd Thunderbird season ending her rotation with the team. She’s mentioned on Instagram that she’ll be leaving the Air Force and moving into the Air National Guard. She’s been an amazing advocate for the team and women pilots. There was a great mix of static airplanes, VT F-35’s, MA F-15’s, A-10’s from Pope, 2 E-2’s and a C-2 from NAS Norfolk. A KC-135R from Mildenhall, a T-6 II NAS Pensacola and a T-1 from Laughlin AFB. For the heavies, we had a C-17 from Dover, KC-10 from McGuire, a C-5 from Westover, about 7 KC-46’s and the New England Patriots airplane. I’d like to thank the 157th PAO for giving me access Friday and Saturday. They’re already talking about a show returning in 2 years, so stay tuned.