Aviation News Journal
NAS Oceana Air Show
Text and photography by Claude La Frenière
It was an incredible experience for
Aviation News Journal
to return to the Oceana base for the first time since 2019. Our 17-hour journey from Montreal was well worth it as we attended the 68th edition of the annual air show held on September 16 and 17, 2023.
US Navy Blue Angels
After a cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, the event made a triumphant return to Virginia Beach in 2022. This year's show at Oceana not only lived up to its renowned reputation but also exceeded expectations. It featured an impressive lineup of high-quality performers and utilized numerous resources from the base fleet, resulting in a truly magnificent event.
Celebration for 50 Years of Women Flying in American Naval Aviation:
The NAS Oceana air show was inaugurated by Captain Steve Djunaedi, Base Commander, amidst the radiant skies, initiating two days of vibrant spectacle. This special edition carried the resonant theme of "50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation," a tribute to the trailblazing pioneers who navigated the American skies.
The commemoration was a salute to the trailblazers of American naval aviation, spotlighting "The First Six," women who earned their Wings of Gold at Pensacola's flight school in 1974. Captain Djunaedi underscored their vital role, stating firmly that their service had fortified the nation and its Navy.
Captain Mary Louise Griffin, a distinguished guest, made a significant impact. As the twelfth woman to earn her Wings of Gold in 1976, she was only the second woman assigned to a tactical aircraft. Her presence added historical depth, highlighting the remarkable progression of women in naval aviation.
The article "50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation," available in our pages, delves into this captivating narrative, paying vibrant tribute to these extraordinary women whose aerial prowess etched an enduring chapter in the annals of naval aviation history.
US Navy Blue Angels
Naval Air Station Oceana: 80 Years of Leadership and Excellence in Military Aviation:
Naval Air Station Oceana, situated in Virginia Beach, Virginia, commemorates a rich history spanning eight decades, originating in 1943 as a modest auxiliary airfield nestled in marshy surroundings. Over time, it ascended to become the East Coast Master Jet Base for the US Navy in 1952, symbolizing the exponential growth of military aviation.
From an initial extent 16 times smaller, the base has burgeoned to span 6,000 acres, proudly accommodating over 14,600 military personnel and 2,000 civilians. It serves as the home for 19 Fighter/Attack Squadrons, operating top-of-the-line Navy aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, an emblem of technological prowess.
With its meticulously crafted runways designed for high-performance aircraft, NAS Oceana's core mission revolves around preparing aircraft carrier fighter and attack squadrons for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Its 17 Deployable Squadrons, Fleet Replacement Squadron, Adversary Squadron, and Logistics Squadron collectively represent unparalleled aerial expertise.
On a daily basis, the base orchestrates around 600 operations for 17 Squadrons and four Carrier Air Wings, diligently managed within 10,000 cubic miles of airspace by its adept air traffic controllers, ensuring the safe and seamless flow of air traffic. Beyond its primary military role, NAS Oceana remains a hub for 219,000 annual training operations, underscoring its unwavering commitment to fostering expertise and operational readiness.
Free General Admission:
The event provides free entry and parking for all attendees, ensuring easy access. To enhance comfort, upgraded seats can be acquired either online or on-site, ranging from $15 to $25. For a premium visual experience, the "Executive Squadron Chalet" offers an exclusive setting at $125 per day. This premium space, situated close to the show center, features a catered buffet, a variety of beers, and access to dedicated sanitary facilities for an elevated event experience.
The Food Offer:
At the event, outside food and drinks were not permitted, but many food vendors near the flight line offered a diverse range of dishes at reasonable prices. The standardized menus for all vendors clearly displayed the prices, but unfortunately, the food offering was the only negative point of the weekend at the Oceana Airshow.
No healthy food choices were available. During discussions with attendees, one young couple expressed disappointment with the limited options for their two young children, citing an abundance of fatty and unhealthy food. Looking ahead, organizers should aim to introduce healthier food choices among vendors in 2024 to address this concern.
The Static Display:
The static display this year showcased a diverse array of aircraft, though it was notably smaller compared to our visit in 2019. Among the highlights were a strategic bomber, transport helicopters, a four-engine research aircraft, various vehicles utilized by the US Marine Corps, a radar aircraft, and fourth-generation fighters like the F-15 and F-18. The US Marine Corp occupied an important place with numerous specialized vehicles and equipment such as a Howitzer-type cannon and a latest-generation field radar system. Additionally, exhibitors were present, showcasing a range of military technologies.
Outdoor S.T.E.M. Laboratory:
The Oceana base embraced the STEM concept – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – in 2016. This ingenious program welcomes Grade 5 students to an Airshow Training Day filled with captivating and interactive STEM exhibitions. Beyond the initial day, the STEM exhibits stay open throughout Saturday and Sunday, offering ongoing educational experiences for the hundreds of thousands of visitors exploring the Navy Open House event. It's a fantastic chance for continuous engagement and learning in the realms of STEM for all attendees.
The Huge B-52H Stratofortress from Minot AFB, North Dakota:
The B-52H Stratofortress, showcased from Minot Air Force Base, stands as an enduring icon of America's strategic bomber force, boasting over six decades of service. Renowned for its reliability and adaptability, this aircraft, affectionately dubbed "BUFF" (Big Ugly Fat Fellow), boasts precision in deploying a wide range of weaponry, from conventional to nuclear, across various missions. Its significance extends from strategic attacks to close air support, showcasing remarkable effectiveness.
While predominantly utilizing conventional munitions, its true strength lies in its adaptability, aiding U.S. Navy naval operations and ocean surveillance. Outfitted with cutting-edge sensors, advanced targeting systems, and night vision capabilities for pilots, it maintains effectiveness regardless of the operating conditions.
Though only around 72 of the 744 planes produced remain operational from the initial fleet built through 1961, they are distributed among active forces, reserves, and a limited long-term storage. Despite their numerical constraint, these aircraft represent the United States' aerial dominance and are poised to remain a cornerstone of national defense until 2050.
Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron HM-15 Naval Station Norfolk:
The MH-53E Sea Dragon, operated by the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM-15 Blackhawks) stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, holds a pivotal role within the US Navy, excelling in multifaceted operations. Primarily designed for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), this helicopter boasts specialized equipment for detecting, sweeping, and neutralizing mines, significantly bolstering maritime security. Its adaptability to various AMCM devices renders it indispensable for these intricate tasks.
Beyond its AMCM role, the Sea Dragon serves as a vital asset for heavy transport and Vertical On-Board Delivery (VOD), facilitating swift troop and equipment transfers between ships and shorelines. Powered by three General Electric T64-GE-419 turboshaft engines, it delivers substantial power while maintaining maneuverability, showcasing exceptional performance across its diverse missions. While production has ceased, evaluations for its future requirements beyond 2025 are ongoing. Nevertheless, the MH-53E Sea Dragon remains a crucial cornerstone of the Navy's fleet, contributing significantly to its operational capabilities. As one of the largest helicopters in the Western world, it stands alongside its counterpart, the CH-53E. Its capacity includes carrying up to 55 troops and supporting loads of up to 36,000 lbs (16,330 kg). It reaches speeds of 173 MPH (278 KMH) and offers a range of 621 miles (1,000 km).
Boeing CH-47F Chinook - Fort Eustis VA, US Army:
The CH-47 Chinook, renowned for its adaptability, stands as a stalwart heavy transport helicopter within the US Army. Distinguished by its tandem rotors, this aircraft plays a pivotal role across diverse missions. Its capacious cargo hold allows for the transportation of varied equipment, positioning it as a premier choice for intricate logistical tasks. With two dependable engines, it operates effectively even in high-altitude conditions, enabling swift troop and equipment deployment in challenging terrains.
Beyond its military duties, the Chinook serves in humanitarian efforts, aiding in medical evacuations and providing support during natural disasters. Its versatility extends to special operations, solidifying its reputation for reliability. As a testament to its robustness and adaptability in catering to multifaceted missions—both military and civilian—the Chinook remains a cornerstone of the US Army's helicopter fleet.
NP-3C Orion U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Patuxent River, MD:
The NP-3C Orion stands out as a medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft, prized for its adaptability in scientific and technological endeavors. With a flight capability of up to 12 hours and an impressive maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, this aircraft achieves speeds ranging from 160 to 300 knots, contingent upon its fuel load.
Its adaptive nature is evident through the inclusion of front and rear radomes, designed to house sensors, alongside a modular cargo hold. This unique feature allows for the installation of diverse equipment, from spherical radomes to external antennas and Doppler sensors. Moreover, its capacity to deploy sonobuoys through an unpressurized chute adds to its multifunctionality.
Internally, the NP-3C offers a flexible configuration, accommodating various racks and stations that cater to different power structures. This adaptability renders it an ideal choice for advanced science and technology missions, providing a dependable and versatile platform for research and development across a spectrum of endeavors.
The US Marine Corp G/ATOR AN/TPS-80 Radar System:
The G/ATOR AN/TPS-80 radar system, backed by the Marine Corps, stands out in aerial surveillance, defense, and air traffic control due to its cutting-edge electronic scanning technology. It boasts the ability to detect a broad spectrum of threats, consolidating five existing systems and significantly bolstering defense capabilities. Its modular design allows for adaptability, catering to diverse operational requirements, spanning from short-range surveillance to counter-battery operations.
Through its integration of communication, radar, and electronic systems, the G/ATOR AN/TPS-80 delivers real-time radar data, notably enhancing US Marine air operations. This solution perfectly addresses their needs for efficient surveillance, robust defense mechanisms, and streamlined aerial management, serving as a pivotal asset for bolstering both security measures and operational efficiency.
Offering quick installation capabilities on-site, this system incorporates a friendly aircraft identification system (UPX-44 IFF) and boasts transportability to operational sites via various air means, granting exceptional logistical flexibility in deployment.
Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye “VAW-120 Greyhawks” Norfolk Air Station:
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) marks a significant leap forward from its predecessor, the E-2C Hawkeye, becoming the cutting-edge airborne platform for crucial functions like early warning, tactical command, and carrier-based control. Sporting a distinctive 24-foot rotating radar atop its fuselage, this aircraft plays a pivotal role within the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander operations, offering essential support for early warning, air combat management, and control.
Equipped with advanced radar and upgraded systems, the E-2D aims to elevate target detection capabilities, especially along coastlines, while bolstering Theater Air Missile Defense (TAMD) operations. Its adaptability enables it to undertake a spectrum of tasks within a single flight, spanning support for ground forces to swift rescue operations.
The aircraft's prowess extends further with its advanced aerial refueling (AR) capabilities, enabling extended flight durations and widened coverage from the aircraft carrier. Enhancements such as new high-endurance seats and optimized fuel systems deliver heightened persistence and operational flexibility, ensuring enhanced mission effectiveness.
F/A-18F – Super Hornet “Rhino”:
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, affectionately known as the "Rhino," took center stage at the Oceana base, serving as the backbone of the US Navy Air Wing. Evolving from the F-14 Tomcat, this fourth-generation fighter stands out for its operational adaptability, catering to a diverse range of missions.
At a striking display, fighters from four Squadrons - VFA-131 Wildcats, VF-32 Fighting Swordsmen, VFA-105 Gunslingers, and VFA-83 Rampagers - all part of Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW-3) aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), were arranged in a tail-to-tail formation. Beyond its role in air superiority, the Super Hornet excels in close air support, reconnaissance, maritime patrol, and neutralizing enemy defenses.
This fighter boasts a larger size compared to its predecessor, offering increased payload and autonomy while demanding lower maintenance, thus optimizing operational costs. Fueled by F414-GE-400 engines, it reaches remarkable speeds of over Mach 1.8, soaring at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet and covering up to 1,660 nautical miles.
With its versatile weaponry options, spanning from missiles to guided bombs, the Super Hornet proves ideal for extensive and diverse missions. Its sophisticated radars and advanced communication systems ensure precise detection, tracking, and targeting, securing air superiority, supporting ground troops, conducting reconnaissance, and safeguarding naval assets.
F-15D Super Eagles Louisiana ANG:
We had an up-close encounter with a distinguished guest at the 159th Fighter Wing, fondly known as "The Bayou Militia." This wing houses the Air National Guard's F-15C/D Eagle fighters, stationed at NAS JRB in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The F-15C/D Super Eagles stand as epitomes of air power and cutting-edge technology, setting new benchmarks for air superiority. Boasting remarkable agility and propelled by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 jet engines, these aircraft achieve speeds close to Mach 2.5 during close combat.
Featuring state-of-the-art avionics, the F-15C/D integrates electronically scanned array radar, advanced electronic countermeasures, and sophisticated communication systems, ensuring unmatched dominance in the skies. A cornerstone of American air defense, it excels in interception, patrol, and securing air superiority, safeguarding national borders and strategic interests. Moreover, the two-seat F-15D serves as an invaluable platform for advanced pilot training within the USAF, ensuring a high standard of expertise beyond its operational missions.
Air Show Announcer and Air Boss Duo:
The heartbeat of any noteworthy air show lies in the indispensable synergy between the Announcer and Air Boss duo, an essential dynamic that determines the success and reputation of the event. These key roles are intricately woven into the fabric of the air show experience, ensuring an unforgettable spectacle for spectators.
On one hand, the Announcer, Ric Peterson, brings a wealth of experience as an award-winning audiovisual journalist with over three decades of expertise. His commanding presence and distinctive voice have made him the iconic narrator of prestigious global air shows, including Fleet Week San Francisco, Los Angeles County Airshow, Canadian International Airshow (CIAS) in Toronto, MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day in Japan, and the Sanicole Air Show in Belgium. His honorary nomination to the circle of Honorary Members of the RCAF Snowbirds demonstration team stands as a testament to his significant contributions to the field.
On the other hand, Wayne G. Boggs, the president and owner of Air Boss and Consulting International Inc., stands as one of the foremost Air Bosses in the United States. With a remarkable career spanning over 25 years and a background in both the United States Marine Corps and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boggs brings unparalleled expertise to overseeing the planning and execution of numerous air shows annually. Their collaboration forms the backbone of each air show, harmonizing the aerial spectacle and audience engagement, ensuring precision, safety, and an unmatched level of entertainment for all attendees.
Firewalkers International Pyro:
Firewalkers International sounds incredible! Their collaboration with civilian and military air demonstration teams to enhance air shows with sensational fireworks creates an unforgettable experience. Combining the precision and excitement of aerial displays with the visual spectacle of fireworks is a fantastic way to elevate the overall experience for audiences. It's amazing how they merge their passion for aeronautics with the dynamic power of fireworks to create an immersive and thrilling show. Their ability to ensure both safety and excitement in these highly energetic displays is commendable.
US Navy Parachute Team, “The Leap Frogs”:
The Leap Frogs truly epitomize precision, skill, and courage in their aerial performances. Their stunning displays from 6,000 feet above sea level showcase their exceptional abilities and represent the pinnacle of excellence in parachuting and special operations. With a diverse team comprised of Navy SEALs, SWCC, ND, EOD technicians, and PR specialists, they bring together an array of expertise to deliver breathtaking performances. Their dedication to excellence and their commitment to representing the United States Naval Special Warfare Command have made them an iconic and celebrated team for nearly five decades. As they approach their 50th anniversary, it's a testament to their unwavering commitment and their continual pursuit of excellence in their field.
Melissa Burns and her Edge 540:
Melissa Burns is a force to be reckoned with in the world of aviation. Her Edge 540 performances, reaching speeds over 400 km/h, showcase not just the capabilities of her aircraft but her own unparalleled skill and dedication. Her track record as a world-record-holding aerobatic pilot and parachutist, combined with her involvement in the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team, underscores her exceptional talent and impact in aviation, especially considering her achievements at a relatively young age.
Her ability to seamlessly balance her career at Alaska Airlines, her aerial displays, teaching responsibilities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and her role as a mother speaks volumes about her resilience and multitasking abilities. Melissa stands as an inspiration in the aviation world, showcasing not only incredible skill in the skies but also admirable dedication to various aspects of her life.
Aaron Fitzgerald with Red Bull Aviation Helicopter:
Aaron Fitzgerald's prowess as an aerobatic pilot with a helicopter is truly exceptional. His expertise extends over 9,000 flight hours, showcasing his skills in a unique domain performing remarkable aerobatics using the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm "Bo 105" helicopter. As an ATP-rated helicopter pilot and a key figure in the Flying Bulls and Red Bull Air Force in the United States, Fitzgerald's contribution to over 100 film productions and television shows highlights his extensive experience and versatility in the field.
The Bo 105 helicopter itself is a standout in its category. With its twin-engine setup, dual hydraulic and electrical systems, and a distinctive hingeless rotor system, this groundbreaking machine, introduced in 1970, revolutionized helicopter aerobatics. Its capabilities set a new standard, allowing for maneuvers that were previously unheard of in the world of helicopters, including inverted loops. Even today, the Bo 105 remains unparalleled, being the sole helicopter capable of executing maneuvers akin to those of traditional fixed-wing aircraft.
Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye:
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, characterized by its distinctive 24-foot rotating radar mounted on top of the fuselage, showcased its capabilities with several flybys over the audience. Later, it joined the Fleet Fly-By formation, flying in unison with 5 to 6 F-18 Super Hornets. This coordinated flight likely presented a powerful and impressive spectacle for the spectators, demonstrating the synchronized capabilities of these aircraft within the Fleet Fly-By formation.
The Air Power Demonstration:
The Oceana Base showcased its aircraft prowess in an air power demonstration, highlighting the crucial roles of the Naval Air Force: air control, surveillance, reconnaissance, and air mobility. The demonstration featured six F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from three Oceana Squadrons - VFA-11 "Red Rippers," VFA-81 "Sunliners," and VFA-143 "Pukin Dogs." Additionally, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye from VAW-120 "Seahawks," stationed at the nearby Norfolk Naval Base, participated. These aircraft staged a stunning spectacle, simulating air-to-air dogfights, air-to-ground attacks, escort flybys, massed formations, and concluded with the successful recovery of all aircraft. Pyrotechnic explosions added a touch of realism to the demonstration, captivating the audience with the dynamic display of air power.
The Fleet Fly-By:
The standout performance at the show involved the Oceana-based Strike Fighter Squadrons' Air Power Demo. The formation showcased a unique delta formation with 5 and 6 F/A-18 Super Hornets and an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye reconnaissance aircraft. However, unlike previous years, there were no Super Hornets with special livery or aircraft representing the colors of the aggressor training squadrons in the 2023 display, which left some aerial photography enthusiasts disappointed.
US Navy “EOD” Technician Team:
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians at NAS Oceana are indeed an impressive force. Highly trained in defusing dangerous munitions, their expertise covers a wide spectrum, from submarine operations to airdrop insertions, contributing to missions worldwide. Their skills range from handling various environments to executing covert operations.
Utilizing techniques like high-altitude, high-opening (HAHO) airdrops, these technicians conduct stealthy deployments, evading enemy radar while jumping from incredible heights. Their silent descent, equipped with specialized gear, allows them to cover vast distances under the radar, guiding their landing with precision.
Their training involves jumps from planes at high altitudes, immediately deploying their parachutes for navigation. With compasses or GPS, they navigate extensive distances, often over 30 miles, adjusting their course based on weather conditions. Guided by the team leader, they descend quietly, sometimes under lunar lighting, enabling discreet maneuvers. This comprehensive training equips them for diverse missions with remarkable precision and adaptability.
Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopter Mine Countermeasures (HM-15 Blackhawks):
The Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon, operated by the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM-15 Blackhawks) stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, exhibited its remarkable maneuverability through low-altitude passes, sharp turns, stationary positions, and lateral movements. Additionally, it served as a jump platform for paratroopers from the Navy's EOD and Leap Frog teams.
Bob Carlton and his Jet Salto Sailplane:
Bob Carlton is indeed an exceptional pilot, boasting an impressive track record with over 2,000 flight hours across a range of aircraft and holding a commercial pilot certificate. As a valued member of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), he has received prestigious accolades including the 2017 Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award, the 2015 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship, and the 2015 Soaring Society of America President's Award.
His expertise spans various aircraft types, encompassing hang gliders, helicopters, airplanes, and gliders. With a professional career in air shows since 1993, he has graced hundreds of venues across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia with his performances. Continual innovation defines Carlton's approach. His most recent venture involves the modified Super Salto jet glider, outfitted with a PBS TJ-100 jet engine. This modification significantly enhances the glider's power, speed, and aerobatic capabilities, pushing the boundaries of traditional glider altitudes. Activation of the jet engine allows the aircraft to transform into a low-altitude aerobatic marvel, enabling vertical climbs instead of conventional landings.
The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team:
The F-22 Raptor Demo Team, stationed in Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, frequently graces Oceana air shows with their awe-inspiring demonstrations. Led by Captain Samuel Larson, an experienced pilot boasting over 750 flight hours, the team showcases the remarkable capabilities of this fifth-generation stealth fighter. Captain Larson maneuvers the F-22 Raptor, showcasing its exceptional agility and dominance in aerial combat. The demonstrations highlight intricate tactical maneuvers that surpass the capabilities of most combat aircraft.
Originally developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing for the US Air Force, the F-22 Raptor was primarily designed for air supremacy but also boasts proficiency in ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence. Despite plans for 750 units, only 187 F-22s were produced due to high costs, with production coming to a halt in 2012. Owing to its classified features and advanced stealth technology, federal law in the United States prohibits the export of the F-22 to other countries.
The F/A-18F Rhino Demonstration Team:
The performance by VFA-106’s F/A-18F Rhino Demo Team, known as the “Gladiators,” was a true spectacle at Oceana. Pilots Lt Ryan “Peaches” Garcia, LT Sam “POPO” Vermilyea, LT Sam “Shy Ronnie” Magilke, LT Jake “Dancing Bear” Brouker, and LT Marty “Grouse” Wilson showcased the incredible capabilities of the Super Hornet, a high-performance multi-role combat aircraft.
Introduced in 1999 as a successor to the F-14 Tomcat, the F/A-18 Super Hornet marks the second major evolution of the F/A-18 family. Its versatility is unmatched, excelling in air superiority, close air support, reconnaissance, air refueling, and precision strike missions conducted day or night. This adaptability positions it as an all-weather aircraft capable of both offensive and defensive roles.
Despite being larger and having approximately 7,000 pounds more weight than its predecessor, the F/A-18 Hornet, the Super Hornet actually requires fewer parts and maintenance. With a maximum gross takeoff weight of 66,000 pounds (29,932 kg), it can reach speeds exceeding Mach 1.8 and has an operational ceiling of over 50,000 feet (15,250 meters). Additionally, it boasts a maximum range of 1,660 nautical miles (3,054 kilometers) while equipped with two AIM-9 missiles and three 480-gallon external tanks.
Rob Holland and his MXS-RH:
Rob Holland is a renowned American aerobatic pilot, with more than 15,000 flight hours on more than 180 types of aircraft. His 21-year career as an air show pilot was marked by exceptional achievements. He is credited with innovative maneuvers and a remarkable record: eleven consecutive national aerobatics championship titles, five consecutive world titles in four-minute free flight, and twelve national four-minute free flight titles in the United States. He has also won gold medals in international competitions and been awarded for his talent and creativity.
Flying the MXS-RH since 2011, a single-seat carbon fiber aerobatic aircraft, designed to his specifications by MX Aircraft, Rob excels in unparalleled maneuvers on the air show circuit. This aircraft, powered by a 380 horsepower Lycoming AEIO-540 engine, is capable of supporting loads of 16 positive and negative Gs thanks to its solid structure. Its rolling capacity, impressive at nearly 500 degrees per second, is achieved through modified ailerons for exceptional performance at different speeds.
Hayden Proffitt - Hot Streak II Jet Truck:
Hayden Proffitt's "Hot Streak II" is no ordinary vehicle. It's a modified 1957 Chevrolet Pickup that's been given an incredible boost, powered by two Westinghouse J34 engines salvaged from a Navy T-2A Buckeye jet trainer. This mechanical marvel unleashes an astounding 25,000 horsepower and generates 12,500 pounds of afterburner thrust, propelling it to speeds exceeding 350 MPH (565 KMH). Despite its weight of around 4,300 pounds (1950 Kg) and the hefty consumption of 150 gallons (570 liters) of fuel in a single pass, "Hot Streak II" took on a thrilling challenge. It engaged in a friendly race against Rob Holland and his MXS-RH at NAS Oceana, showcasing the thrilling clash between raw automotive power and aerial finesse.
Greg Koontz and the Alabama Boys:
Greg Koontz is an air show veteran, having started in 1974 with Colonel Moser's Flying Circus. He honed his skills under some of the best in the industry. Greg is a true showman whose routines provide classic family entertainment, in the tradition of the flying circus. With the Alabama Boys, he puts on an entertaining air show featuring an inexperienced "Alabama Boy" who flies a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub plane and ultimately lands on the roof of his pickup, providing a spectacle entertaining and full of charm.
US Navy Blue Angels close the show:
The Blue Angels have an enduring legacy of excellence in precision and skill, showcasing the pinnacle of aerobatic flight. Their demonstrations are a true testament to the talent, discipline, and teamwork within the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The precision of their formations and maneuvers, combined with the sheer speed and agility of the F/A-18-E Super Hornets, never fail to captivate and inspire audiences, leaving an indelible impression of the mastery of aerial performance. It's no wonder they continue to be a cherished highlight at air shows, embodying the spirit of professionalism and community service while upholding a remarkable tradition of excellence.
That's a remarkable milestone for the Blue Angels and a significant moment in the Navy's history, celebrating the 50th anniversary of women's contributions. Lt. Commander Amanda Lee's achievement as the first female pilot in the elite Blue Angels squadron is a testament to her skill, dedication, and the progressive strides made towards inclusivity and equality within the armed forces. Her role in the squadron not only breaks barriers but also inspires future generations, showcasing that talent and capability know no gender.
US Navy Blue Angels’ Fat Albert - C-130J Hercules:
"Fat Albert" truly adds a distinctive and exciting element to the Blue Angels' performance. Its impressive capabilities as a C-130J Hercules, from its capacity for heavy cargo and personnel transport to its remarkable low-altitude maneuverability, make it an integral part of the team's success. Major Joshua Soltan and the entire crew behind "Fat Albert" contribute not just functionally but also by engaging the audience and setting the stage for the breathtaking displays of the Blue Angels. It's a fantastic tribute to the skilled pilots and support crew who ensure the show's excellence and vibrancy.
The 2023 NAS Oceana Air Show soared to incredible heights, drawing in an impressive crowd of over 306,000 attendees, including an inspiring turnout of more than 6,300 students from local schools. Positioned as a premier excursion on the American East Coast, this event delivered a breathtaking aerial spectacle that captivated audiences far and wide.
Honoring a significant milestone of 50 years of women flying in naval aviation, the show paid tribute to trailblazing pioneers within the Navy. It commemorated the first six women who earned their Golden Wings in 1974 and saluted the courage of all women who bravely choose to serve their nation among the clouds.
This world-renowned air show was the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort. Close to 1,000 military volunteers, alongside municipal partners from Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk, two school systems, and over 50 local businesses, united forces to orchestrate a truly unforgettable and remarkable success. The combined dedication and support from these diverse entities ensured the show's seamless execution and left an indelible mark on all who attended.