Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 NAS Oceana Airshow

Ahhh, there's nothing like the smell of JP-5 in the morning. Add to that three days of airplanes flying overhead and you have a very good vacation. Rob and I went to Virginia Beach for three days last weekend to catch NAS Oceana's Golden Anniversary Airshow and take tons of photos. Being the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet, there were plenty of F-18s and other aircraft around.

Two F-18 Super Hornets lifting off from the runway

Checking the ramp for FOD in the morning

Friday we couldn't get on base for the practice so we watched from across the road at the end of the runway. It turned out to be a great spot for some shots, as the Blue Angels went directly overhead at about 200 feet on takeoff. We got on base for the night show and got to shoot some great photos of planes with a nice sunset in the background. We also picked up our Media Passes that we received as part of a group of members from the airshow website Fence Check. They got us preferred parking, the ability to bring backpacks in, and seating in the Media pit - good deal.

Climbing into a P-51 and preparing for takeof

The Geico Skytypers fly during the evening show

We discovered a great spot on the grass north of the main seating area that most people ignored. Too bad for them. The F-22 Raptor went directly overhead on a few passes and words can't describe how ridiculously awesome it was to be right there. Check the video at the end of this post and you'll see what I mean. Other planes also came real close to that spot as they banked towards the crowd line and airshow center.

F-18s and an E-2C made up the Fleet Flyby

F-22 and P-51 during the Heritage Flight

Being a Naval Base, there are some additional things compared to your run-of-the-mill airshow. Namely, lots and lots of military jets. There were tons of F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets at Oceana this year and none disappointed. The weather did keep the entire fleet from flying by on Saturday, but they were able to go up on Sunday and do the full Tactical Air Power Demonstration. Jets raced in for simulated bombing and gun runs, complete with pyrotechnics. The only thing we missed was the F-18 tanker demo, as the tanking aircraft had a mechanical problem and couldn't go up on Sunday.

The Blue Angels' aircraft lined up on the ramp

All in all, it was a kick-ass trip full of jet noise and the opportunity to get up close with many amazing aircraft. This was my first trip to Oceana but I have a feeling I'll be returning soon. It's been a lot of fun traveling around the country to watch planes dart around the sky this summer. But after five total airshows this year - Louisville, Traverse City, Waynesville, Cleveland, and now Oceana - I'm done until next season rolls around.

Video highlights from the show

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