Behind The Camera
about some of the photos on this website.
The 2015 Fargo Airsho is back after four years. This year featuring the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, the USMC demonstration of the AV-8B 'Harrier II', and six acrobatic aircraft. The only thing this airshow didn't have was much in the way of static displays.
Thursday, my friend and fellow aviation photographic enthusiast, Bob Nelson, had scouted the area around the airport and suggested University Drive and 36th Avenue North to photograph rehearsal day. This was a great location to photograph the U.S. Navy Blue Angles. They flew over our location a dozen times. We had good site lines for the most part. The Blue Angels 4-plane Diamond formation went up first. After a short delay to land an Allegiant Flight 426 running short on fuel, (Forum) the Blue Angel solo pilots went up and flew practice passes.
Later in the afternoon, the Blue Angels flew more practice routines over our house (video).
Friday, I went to the NDSU rugby field just south of the runaway. I had planned for an hour long Blue Angels practice. Instead, the afternoon kicked off with the USMC AV-8B 'Harrier II', followed by the acrobatic planes. Bob joined me around 2 PM in the cul-de-sac. The afternoon clouds broke up the USMC C-130T 'Fat Albert' took to the sky followed by the US Navy Blue Angels with their F/A-18C 'Hornets'. A crowd of fans wandered onto the field, as did a dozen large jackrabbits. (The jets must have disturbed them from their homes.) A Fargo motorcycle cop chased everyone back behind the barricade just before the Blue Angels landed. Apparently the field is a designated crash zone.
Saturday opened with clear skies in the morning followed by afternoon clouds and a trace amount of rain. I went on the roof and photographed the Blue Angel show from there. (video)
Sunday, I arrived at the airport with my nephew before 11 AM and watched the entire show. We found good (non-VIP) seating in the NW corner. The weather was clear and warm all day. [Links on the show times go to that set of photos]
11:03, The show started with a couple passes by a T-6 'Texan' and T-28 'Trojan'.
11:11, "Fat Albert" brought up the U.S. Navy "Leap Frog" parachute team. They followed "Skydive Fargo" ("Oh Canada") with the U.S. Flag for "The Star Spangled Banner."
11:21, Lt. Col. John Klatt and Skip Stewart flew their acrobatic aircraft in tribute to Jim 'Fang' Maroney. Jim died in a crash last year. In years past Jim was fixture in local air shows with his Super Chipmunk acrobatic airplane.
11:35, A WW-II bomber: B-25J "Miss Mitchell" made a couple simulated bombing passes. This included a Pyrotechnic display on the ground to wake up the campers.
11:48, North Valley Aircraft flew their green & white Checkerboard Pitts S-2B, acrobatic aircraft.
11:55, Kent Pietsch flew his Interstate Cadet "Jelly Belly" plane in a comedy routine.
12:19, Kyle Franklin flew "Dracula" which was interesting: Kyle sits way back in the fuselage as the 500 hp direct-port, fuel-injected R-985 Pratt & Whitney engine rockets this acrobatic aircraft threw the sky.
12:27, Lt. Col. John Klatt flew his MXS unlimited aerobatic plane.
12:43, Kent Pietsch was back trailing yellow and red smoke. He landed his Cadet on top of a moving pickup truck.
1:07, Skip Stewart flew “Prometheus,” a 400 hp modified Pitts SC2 acrobatic aircraft.
Because we were seated on the NW corner, we were also right next to the taxiway, were the military aircraft were staged. I took a break from the sky and talked with Gunny Sargent Micah Bachtold and Staff Sargent Zach Williford of "Fat Albert Airlines". These USMC NCOs serve as Flight Engineer and Flight Mechanic on the C-130T 'Hercules'. The USMC also had a newer C-130J 'Super Hercules' there to support the "Leap Frogs" parachute team. The USMC also had three AV-8B 'Harrier II' at the ready. The fourth Harrier was on static display near the food courts. I watch as the crew prepare the aircraft and it taxis out.
1:33, The USMC demonstrated their AV-8B 'Harrier II' by taking off vertically and hovering behind the Blue Angels. A 22,000 lbs thrust engine enables the 'Harrier II' to hover like a helicopter, and then transition to normal fighter jet speeds.
2:08, Red Baron. I was looking forward to seeing this PT-17 Boeing Stearman aircraft painted in the classic Red Baron (frozen pizza) Squadron colors. I use to see them all the time in the 1980, but they folded the squadron in 2000(?). I joked that I paid for the entire squadron single handed with all the Red Baron pizza I ate.
2:20, Kent Pietsch turns off the engine of his Interstate Cadet at 6,000 feet and does a complete acrobatic show with no power before coming in for a dead stick landing.
2:29, Skip Stewart and Kyle Franklin come back out and mix it up a little bit. Sort of a dogfight/ twin acrobatic display as they wait for..
2:32, Paul Stender (Indy Boys Inc./Speed for Hire) takes out his jet-powered school bus, "School Time" and races Kyle Franklin's "Dracula". The guy beside me is laughing with delight. Stender burns a lot of jet fuel and fills the taxiways with smoke and flames.
3:02, The USMC sends up their C-130T "Fat Albert" to show off the capabilities of their Blue Angel support aircraft. The short field 'Combat Landing' is impressive. They can land in a hurry. I think Micah waves from on top of the aircraft as they taxi back to their spot.
3:24, The U.S. Navy Blues Angels flying their Boeing F/A-18 'Hornets' take to the sky after their ground demonstration. Many fast-paced maneuvers in their famous formations: The four-member 'Diamond', five-member 'In-line' and six-member 'Delta' formation.
4:16, I join the family (and everyone else) in the race to get ahead of the crowd leaving once the Blue Angels land. I did not get a chance to view the Static displays (AV-8B 'Harrier II') and vender tents. There was very little on static display. There were used cars for sale by dealers, farm tractors, air show souvenir tents, food tents, military recruiters, the U.S. The Navy Band Great Lakes 'Horizon', and games for the kids. A few quick stops on the way out. Civil Air Patrol has their Cessna Skyhawk on display and a new glider. UND brought a twin engine turbo-prop. The ND Military Vehicle had a display of old (WW-II) military trucks, half-tracks, and jeeps on display. (ndmvca.com) (my NDMVCA photos from 2012)
The day moved so quickly in the air that I never felt bored and didn't move far from my lawn chair. By 2 PM it had gotten hot, but not oppressively so. Traffic after the show wasn't very bad. We were on the Interstate in a matter of minutes.
I didn't carry a lot of photographic gear. I almost didn't bring my 500mm CAT lens. It ended up being pretty useful with the propeller driven Acrobatic aircraft. They tend to stay right above the viewing area. The lens is like a small light telescope, so even if I'm not shooting, it gives a great view of what's going on above my head. My 10-20mm Sigma lens stayed in the bag. My Sony 70-300mm got the most use. I also brought my Canon S-110 to shoot some videos. Unlike previous days, I didn't try to do both at the same time. So there are some missing photographs of the Blue Angels on Sunday as I switched to the S-110 during the large 'Delta' formation and 'High Alpha Pass' by the Solo pilots.
Solo FortusThe U.S. Navy Blue Angel solo pilots perform a Fortus maneuver with their F/A-18 'Hornets'. The Fortus has the solos flying in carrier landing configuration with No.5 inverted, establishing a 'mirror image' effect. #5 Lt. Mark Tedrow (Lead Solo) and #6 Lt. Ryan Chamberlain (Opposing Solo)
See the full Gallery or the Gallery slideshow for more photos from the air show. This is my Best Of set. For the full daily sets see: Thursday 7/23, Friday 7/24, Saturday 7/25, or Sunday 7/26 (the most complete day).
I shot short video clips of the aerial demonstrations. My Canon S-110 was attached to my Sony a200 as I shot still photos. The clips are jumpy and were quickly assembled so don't expect much.
Additional Information from the Fargo Forum: US Navy Week preview, Jim 'Fang' Maroney, Amazing AirSho takes off, Backseaters, The Fargo Airsho returns in style, Walstad and Schroeder to retire, and Wonderful time at Fargo’s AirSho. InForum Photo Album.USMC AV-8B Harrier IIThe U.S. Marine Corp show off their Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) AV-8B 'Harrier II' aircraft Friday Afternoon. The gear comes down as the Harrier hangs almost motionless mid-air.
The 1989 Fargo Air Show was a North Dakota Centennial Air Show. One of two. The other being in Minot in July. This was going to be a big show. There were a lot of unique aircraft scheduled both in the air and on the ground. The Fargo Forum ran a number of articles about the 1989 Fargo Airsho and the 1989 North Dakota Centennial Aviation Celebrations. I was excited, as was my friend and fellow aviation enthusiast: Bob Nelson. It was a weekend show, with the USAF ‘Thunderbirds’ flying on Sunday. I had rented a 500mm CAT lens, and got the odd idea to get two rolls Infrared B&W film- I wanted to do something different.
Friday 8/18, Bob called me at work. He was watching aircraft arrive from the north end of the runaway I joined him after work. He let me use his Nikkormat, 180mm lens, 2X extender, and monopod. I was in time to photograph the Top Gun F–5E ‘Tiger II’ and A–4 ‘Skyhawk’ Aggressors from the Miramar Naval Air Station. We also photographed the Georgia ANG F–15A ‘Eagle’ landing at 7:00. I went home. I should have attended Friday night’s banquet talk with General Chuck Yeager at Centennial Hall.
Saturday 8/19, I left early and picked up Bob. I used his bathroom to load the infrared (IR) film as it has to be loaded and unloaded in total darkness. There are many World War II era aircraft from the Confederate Air Force (CAF) ‘Ghost Squadron’ lined up on the south taxiway. The current Navy and Air Force aircraft are to the north. (see my crude map below)
I have to leave Bob and head home. I’m taking my parents to the airport, and I change IR film in the bathroom.
I got back in time to see the US Army Golden Knights parachute team jump. This was followed by aerial demonstrations by the CAF’s WW-II aircraft, Valley Skydivers and a Russian Mig 15 ‘Faggot’. During a lull in the aerial action I photograph the A–4 and F–5 from the Navy’s Top Gun School. Then the F–16B ‘Fighting Falcon’, RF–4C ‘Phantom II’, F–4D, F–4E, F/A–18A ‘Hornet’, F–111A ‘Aardvark’, and F–15A. I chat with the F–16B pilot from the Montana ANG. We watch Jim ‘Fang’ Maroney fly ‘Lil Toot’ in some aerobatic routines. Jim is followed by Bill ‘Burner’ Beardsley in the BD–5J ‘Bud Light Micro Jet’.
From the Grand Forks AFB, a KC–135R ‘Stratotanker’ flies by. It is joined by four F–4D of Fargo’s NDANG ‘Happy Hooligans’. The GFAFB also is home to the B–1B ‘Lancer’, which makes a couple passes. Another ‘Lancer’ is on display in front of the old Hector terminal building. It’s guarded by an armed airman. Bob and I call it: The Ring of Death. The MiG–15 flies. I yell at Bob, “He’s really tearing it up.” It was so loud, Bob can’t hear me. The South Dakota ANG fly a pair of A–7 ‘Corsair II‘s. Nine Golden Knights went up to jump again. They presented the mayor with a baton once they got their parachutes stowed. The announcer asks, "Will the owner of a 1971 Dodge Duster to please move your car or it will be towed." This announcement is repeated all day. When they announced the Duster belonged to Vince Linstrom I knew it was a joke. There is was- being towed by a UH–1 ’Huey’ helicopter. It was dropped in front of us. It landed with a strange thump.
The aerial demonstrations were over. No F–15 flight. I stop and chat to the Civil Air Patrol members in front of their Cessna. I stopped at Robert Odegaard’s Grumman TBM ‘Avenger’ torpedo bomber. It was painted in honor of the one President George H. Bush flew during World War II.
Sunday 8/20, Bob and I set up on the 12th Avenue bridge. We hope this will give us some interesting views of the aircraft as their fly overhead on their way to the Hector field. The wind is 15 mph and the clouds are low. The US Army Golden Knights cancel their morning jump. We see the USAF ‘Thunderbirds’ in the distance. I find the 500mm lens too long; too slow under these dark clouds. I borrow Bob’s 180mm lens again. The Thunderbird’s KC–141 ‘Starlifter’ support aircraft flies overhead. The CAF are out with their B–25 ‘Mitchell’, F–4U ‘Corsair’, and T–28C ‘Trojan’. We leave for lunch at Dairy Queen.
Bob finds an open spot on the fence line. We’re late so it’s far to the north of the center line, but we have good site lines. The Golden Knights were jumping. I left Bob to photograph the static displays with my 28mm wide angle lens. Some jets were crowded, some were not. I rejoin Bob as we wait for the USAF Thunderbirds’ to fly their F–16A ‘Fighting Falcons’. Once they do, it’s all very fast and exciting. I feel unprepared: the 500mm CAT lens is too long. I switch to my 135mm and infrared film. There isn’t time to switch to Bob’s 180mm lens. The T-birds do some maneuvers the Blue Angels don’t and vise versa, but the F–16 ‘Falcon’ is a better aircraft. The crowd begins to leave as the Falcons land, so I walk up the fence line for photos of the Thunderbirds’ as they taxi and park. I finish my slide film. I still have IF film. I wait for people to move away so I can photograph more jets. (27 years later, I’m amazed by all the aircraft I didn’t photograph.) Jet noise returns as aircraft preparing to leave the show (MiG–15 is the first.) I’m out of film and money. I borrow a dollar from Bob to make a donation. I don’t even have $2 for the 1989 Fargo Airsho Program (Google Docs, text only as the images didn’t transfer. I do have a PDF and HTML file with the imagines.)
Bob Nelson's photos (Black & White with a 1142-1154 prefix) are copyright 1989/2015.
My photos have a date prefix; are a combination of Color Print, Color Slide, and B&W Infrared film. ©1989, 2015, 2016.
Photo descriptions come primarily from Wikipedia and Warbirds Registry . See below for additional links. I have access to additional historic information from 1989 Fargo Forum articles, and the 1989 Fargo Airsho Program.
Note: colored links in the ID column lead to photos of the aircraft in the Gallery. There were lots of aircraft at the airshow that are not listed including quite a few experimental aircraft from the EAA. I’m also missing photos of some aircraft that are listed, but are behind other aircraft.
|.ID||Manufacturer||Name||Owner||Unit||S/N||Tail||Notes||Links . . .|
|65-B90||Beechcraft||King Air||Meritcare Jet||Lifeflight||N33CS, Military T-44|| |
|757||Boeing||NWA||Airliner, C-32A Military|||
|A-4||Douglas||Skyhawk||US Navy||VFA-127||155000||NJ 702||Pilot Patch: 334th Fighter Squadron "The Eagles"||  |
|A-7D||Vought||Corsair II||SDANG||114 FW||Lobos SD 218||Sioux Falls, SD. Two|| |
|UH-1||Bell||Iroquois||ND Army Guard||Huey||1971 Dodge Dart|||
|B-1B||Rockwell||Lancer||GFAFB||319th BW||Grand Forks AFB, ND|||
|B-25J||North American||Mitchell||Planes Of Fame East||Mitch The Witch||44-86747||Robert Pond..N8163H|| |
|BD-5J||Jim Bede||Bill 'Burner' Beardsley||Bud Light Micro Jet|| |
|C-141B||Lockheed||Starlifter||USAF||Thunderbirds||Nellis AFB, NV|||
|C-31A||Fokker||Troopship||US Army||Golden Knights||51607||US Army Parachute Team|| |
|CT-114||Canadiar||Tutor||FIS||Vikings||114102||Helmet: Viking 18|| |
|DH-82C||de Havilland||Tiger Moth||RCAF||CF-COU||1122||The Red River Tiger Moth Group Ltd.|| |
|EA-6B||Northrop Grumman||Prowler||US Navy||VAQ-141||162938||AJ 620||In Air, Co. Cdr. Jack Skjoldanger, Lt. Sam Mills||  |
|F-111A||General Dynamics||Aardvark||USAF||366th TFW||xx-070||MO||Mountain Home AFB, ID|||
|F-15A||McDonnell-Douglas||Eagle||Georgia ANG||116th FG||75-069||Robins AFB, GA|| |
|F-16A||General Dynamics||Falcon||USAF||57th Wing||Thunderbirds||Nellis AFB, NV||  |
|F-16B||General Dynamics||Falcon||Montana ANG||186th FS||81-819||Big Sky Country||Great Falls, MT||  |
|F-4D||McDonnell||Phantom II||NDANG||119 FIS||Happy Hooligans 647||Four In Air: 40938, 40976, 40963, 67478|| |
|F-4D-29MC||McDonnell||Phantom II||NDANG||119 FIS||66-7498||Happy Hooligans||Blue Centennial Paint Job 1889-1989||  |
|F-5E||Northrup||Tiger II||US Navy||VFA-127||73-0879||NJ 722||NAS Lemoore, CA|||
|F-5E||Northrup||Tiger II||US Navy||VFA-127||74-1539||NJ 724||NAS Lemoore, CA|||
|F/A-18A||McDonnell-Douglas||Hornet||US Navy||NSAWC||762887 ?||51||NAS Fallon, NV|| |
|F6F-5||Grumman||Hellcat||Planes of Fame East||Bu.94473||36||Navy 58644, NX4964V||  |
|FG-1D||Vought||F4U Corsair||Planes of Fame East||VF-53||Bu.92629||301 S||Kermit M. LaQuey USMC, Lt. jg Mac McCullum USNR, USS Essex, NX62290|| |
|JU-52||Junker||Tante Ju||Confederate Air Force||CASA 352L||T2B-176||Tri-motor, 3M G3E, N352JU|| |
|KC-10A||McDonnell-Douglas||Extender||USAF||32nd ARS||70120||Barksdale AFB, LA|||
|KC-135R||Boeing||Stratotanker||USAF||th319 ARW||38005||Grand Forks AFB, ND|| |
|L-4||Piper||Grasshopper||US Army||x8608||Civilian J-3|||
|Little Toot||George Meyer||Lil Toot||Jim 'Fang' Maroney||N5211|| |
|MiG-15||Mikoyan-Gurevich||Fagot||USSR||CN: 122073||15||N15PE|| |
|P-3||Lockheed||Orion||US Navy||In Air|||
|P-47D||Republic||Thunderbolt||Planes Of Fame East||PHV||228473||"Big Chief" NX47RP|| |
|PT-17||Boeing-Stearman||Kaydet||Two. Model 75|||
|RF-4C||McDonnell||Phantom II||Nebraska ANG||173rd TRS||65-840||Lincoln, NE|| |
|SNJ||North American||Texan||US Navy|||
|T-2||North American||Buckeye||US Navy||VT-9||156725||354 S||CN: 318-40|||
|T-28C||North American||Trojan||US Navy||Bu.146286||E 461||Greg Fieber N628C|||
|TA-4J||Douglas||Skyhawk||US Navy||CTW-2||CN: 13701||B 152||NAS Kingsville, FL|| |
The history of the McDonnell F–4 ‘Phantom II’ is interesting. “The USAF received Phantoms as the result of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s push to create a unified fighter for all branches of the military.” (wiki) This was a bad idea. The F–4 was designed by the Navy for carrier use; a good platform for multiple types of missions, but as a pure fighter it left a lot to be desired. The US Navy had their own variants: the ‘B’, the ‘J’, the ‘N’, and the ‘S’
It’s hard to tell the different versions apart. The nose is the best guide.
McDonnell F–4D ‘Phantom II’ painted dark blue as the North Dakota Centennial Aircraft.
A member of NDANG ground crew guy told us this aircraft had numerous stress cracks. While performing acrobatic maneuvers, it was pulling 8.5 Gs. Neither Bob nor I got any photographs of this aircraft performing, and now I question whether it flew on either day.
1989 Fargo Airsho MapI drew this map to help locate the aircraft in my photographs. It's not to scale and there are errors. Also many aircraft were moved during the day(s) as they flew demonstration flights.
The weather is clear, warm and sunny but with a 40 mph wind. Although I didn't seem them, about 20 protesters greeted visitors to the base with signs reading "Stop the Arms Race," and "U.S. Air Force: Good People, Bad Product."
My friend, Bob Nelson, and I aren't expecting much more than last year's displays. There are a few new inclusions: an A-7 from the SDANG, TR-1A (U-2S), a B-52H from the Minot AFB, a P-3C Orion, FB-111, and it's cousin the EF-111. A UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) helicopter demonstrates over the Canadian CT-114s. At 1:45 pm we find a spot on the edge of the flight line, the Snowbirds take off. They disappear for 15 minutes. They have nine aircraft; flying routines all over the field like a swarm of bees. Their fly bys were close.
After the show, the security guy opened up the B-52H. We were first in line but the line moved and we were in the back of the line. I tried to compose shots, without people walking in my frame. I went around the B-52H photographed the bomb bay. The B-1B took off 15 minutes early. The KC-135R 'Stratotanker' flew by. The B-1B 'Lancer' followed pulling a tight turn right over the field. It scared all the kids. It was louder than my Stratocaster, even louder than the Who! The ground shook under the four afterburners. Everyone plug their ears. The kids were rolling on the ground in terror. The B-1B swung north and disappeared. Bob and I knew they'd be back for a bomb run. The B-1B came screaming in from the North. I didn't see the bomb blast until it was too late. Bob looked at me, I looked at him, shook our heads, like last year we missed it again!
At 4:00 the Montana ANG F-16 Falcon was still crowded. I checked out GE's CFM jet engine display, this engine has greatly improved the performance of the KC-135R.
B-52H 'Stratofortress'The Minot Air Force Base put one of their B-52H 'Stratofortress' on display at the Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) 'Friends And Neighbors Day' on May 27th 1989. The 5th Bomb Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command's Eighth Air Force. It is stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The 5th BW is one of only two B-52H Stratofortress wings in the USAF. In September 1991, the wing pulled its aircraft from continuous alert status - a job it performed for 35 years. The 5th Wing became the 5th Bomb Wing following the activation of Air Combat Command.
See the full Gallery or the Gallery slideshow for more photos from the air show: 78 total including my detailed photo/airplane descriptions. All the Black & White photos are © Bob Nelson as are some color slides, many thanks.
Photo descriptions come primarily from many sources including Wikipedia: B-1B (Wiki), B-52H (Wiki) (5th BW) (M61), CT-114 (Wiki) (Flying) (Antaya RIP) (CanandianWings.com) (s/n), C-130 (Wiki), EF-111A (Wiki), F-111 (Wiki), F-16A (f-16.net) (MT ANG), KC-10 (Wiki), KC-135 (Wiki) (CFM56), OA-4M (Wiki) (a4skyhawk.org), TR-1A (Wiki) (17th TW)
I have scanned and made available additional GFAFB Information from the Grand Forks Herald, which I used to refresh my memory and fill in some gaps to my journal.
Note: colored links in the ID column lead to photos of the aircraft in the Gallery. Aircraft without links are often visible in the photos of the aircraft surrounding them.
|B-1B||Rockwell||Lancer||GFAFB||Bone||6113||3:20 PM fly by|
|B-52H||Boeing||Stratofortress||5th Bombardment Wing, Minot AFB||The Baron||10008||Charon|
|C-5A||Lockheed||Galaxy||Travis AFB||60th MAW||90024||22nd Airlift Squadron or 75th|
|C-141||Lockheed||Starlifter||? was it here|
|CT-114||Canadair||Tutor||431 Air Demonstration Squadron||Snowbirds||2:00 show, 9-planes|
|F-4E||McDonnell Douglas||Phantom II||NDANG||Happy Hooligans||12:15 PM fly by|
|F-16A||General Dynamics||Falcon||Montana ANG||Big Sky Country||80565|
|KC-135R||Boeing||Stratotanker||GFAFB||319th Bombardment Wing||3:15 PM fly-by 37576?|
|OA-4M||Douglas||Skyhawk||Marines||DA||153507||Major G.M. Dellemat?|
|P-3C||Lockheed||Orion||? was it here|
|T-38||Northrop||Talon||GFAFB||Pilot Trainer||12:30 PM fly by|
|TR-1A||Lockheed||Dragon Lady||17RW||80-01082||Bulldog logo 000026|
|UH-1||Bell||Huey||1:15 PM fly by|
|AH-1||Bell||Huey Cobra||? was it here|
Bob Nelson called me on Thursday, "There's an air show in Grand Forks on Saturday." Friday I stopped at The Image Place for ten rolls of Kodachrome and rented a 500mm CAT lens. They only had a Nikon mount but Bob said I could borrow his Nikkormat and monopod. I had no need for other amusements as we talked about aviation and photography the whole way. We even sang "Old McDonald had a MIRV, EIEIO." Bob followed the crowd on Highway 2. At the base entrance a guard saluted everyone coming in. Bob asks the airman, "Is that your German Shepherd?" pointing at a large jack rabbit? The guy laughs and says, "Yah, they're specially trained."
We were too late to catch the F-16 'Falcons' flying around. This would be our first airshow at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and our first chance to see the B-1B 'Lancer' supersonic bomber. As we near the flight line, I notice the B-1B, that's cool. Bob says, "Is that what I think it is?" I assume he meant the 'Lancer' but he was looking behind it to the C-5A 'Galaxy'. Bob was really excited to see the largest flying U.S. aircraft, but it didn't do anything for me. The GFAFB also is home to a squadron of KC-135R tankers. Based on the Boeing 707- the 'R's have new engines. To demonstrate, one of their KC-135R took off and almost went into a vertical climb. The new Turbofan engines have almost twice the thrust. This was follow by a B-1B 'Lancer'. Both planes did a series of passes with the B-1 making a bomb pass on the last run. They simulated the bomb blasts with pyro behind the Blue Angels. Bob and I were too surprised to photograph it.
The Blue Angels were now flying the F/A-18A 'Hornet'. Another first for us. Commander Gil Rud from Portland, ND was still leading the 'Blues'. He got a rare third year because of the transition from the A-4K Skyhawk. The Blue Angels flew a similar routine as two years ago including the sneak fly by. The only difference was with the F-18A they could pull some snappy turns. I thought the planes were smoky. I had smoke, dust, sun and sunscreen in my eyes.
I didn't spend much film on the static displays. I was more interested in aircraft I hadn't seen yet, so I have quite a few photos of the B-1B. It was guarded and roped off with a sign that said, Use of deadly force authorized." The good news is it kept other guests out of my photos. Bob and I, along with a group of photographers moved a ladder to the front of the F-16C 'Fighting Falcon' to get some nice top nose shots. I didn't notice at the time but this was the first 'C' version of the F-16 that I had seen. It was from the 314th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, activated in 1986, and was only the second F-16C squadron in the Air Force.
"It's 5:00. 'Friends And Neighbor's Day' is over, everyone out!" was announced in a curt voice. On the way back to the car, a fire truck rounds the corner with a manned water gun. Bob raised his arms in a mock surrender, they honk their horn in reply. Bob told me about a premonition he had regarding a crash at the airshow thankfully he was wrong. The premonition was correct, it was the wrong airshow.
If I was underprepared for the 1987 airshow I was was over-prepared for this show. Ten rolls of slide film was over kill. I would have been better off with three rolls of print film, especially as I underexposed two rolls, which required a crazy amount of time with my Minolta F2900 film scanner and Adobe Photoshop. I worked hard to get some decent images from these underexposed slides. I scanned them three times! In 2003, 2010 (ScanCafe.com), and 2015. Four rolls of color photos are mine (1988.06.25.xx, 1988.06.25axx, 1988.06.25bxx, 1988.06.25cxx). Bob has shared three rolls of Black and White film (1086.xx,1086.xx, 1088.xx). Occasionally you'll see some people as silhouettes- I find people milling around the aircraft to be distracting so I mask them out in Adobe Photoshop.
Photo descriptions come primarily from Wikipedia. Addition informational sources: B-1B (Wiki), GFAFB (Wiki) (SAC), C-5A (Wiki) (AF.mil) , F-16C (Wiki) (Luke AFB) (Aragon) (85-447), and the F/A-18A Blue Angels (1988 Team) (1988 News). I also used some excerpts from "Blue Angels: 50 Years of Precision Flight" by Nicholas A Veronico & Marga B. Fritze.
I have scanned and made available additional Historic Information from the Fargo Forum, and a history of the Blue Angels that I think was in the 1988 GFAFB Program.
Note: colored links in the ID column lead to photos of the aircraft in the Gallery. Aircraft without links are often visible in the photos of the aircraft surrounding them but not in this this case, if not for the sketch below I would have no memory of these aircraft.
|C-47||Douglas||Dakota||Canadian Air Force||12590||Navy Trainer|
|C-5A||Lockheed||Galaxy||Travis AFB||22nd Military Airlift Squadron||00446|
58th Tactical Training Wing
|85-447||Major Hank Aragon
Staff Sergeant John Slandridge
|F-4D||McDonnell||Phantom II||NDANG||Happy Hooligan|
|F/A-18A||McDonnell-Douglas||Hornet||Blue Angels||7 Aircraft|
|KC-135R||Boeing||Stratotanker||GFAFB||319th Bombardment Wing|
|P-51D||North American||Mustang||Commemorative Air Force||Guess|
|T-6||North American||Texan||Commemorative Air Force||Guess|
1988 GFAFB FlightlineMy 1988 sketch of the GFAFB 'Friends and Neighbors Day' flight line. Saturday, June 25, 1988. Not only does it show the layout (obviously not to scale) but it also illustrates some events of the afternoon.
See my blog post for more information about the show and references for the images.
This was a low key air show. I may not known it was in town until I dropped off company at the airport that morning. I certainly wasn't prepared for it. My friend and fellow aviation/photography enthusiast, Bob Nelson, picked me up and off to the airport we went. Bob shot two rolls of B&W film (#1091,1092) All I had was my old Hanimex compact-A with a bad 40mm lens and a half roll of color print film, and my Minolta SLR, a 50mm lens and half a roll of slide film.
A Civil Air Patrol cadet is handing out food coupons on the way in. It was fun to see the CAP busy at the air show. It had been 12 years since I was a CAP cadet. It was an eclectic collection of aircraft as you can see from the list below. I spent most of my time around the Minot AFB F-15A 'Eagle' and Montana ANG F-16A 'Falcon'. Good thing Bob was along and shares his photos, or I wouldn't have much to show here. At the time I was only interested in current military aviation. I did get some photos of the Commemorative Air Force/Arizona Wing B-17G 'Flying Fortress' - It was the first WW-II bomber I had ever seen. Funny I wasn't more interested at the time. I had done a lot of reading on WW-II: bombers and fighters. Later I would recover my enthusiasm. Thankfully "Sentimental Journey" would be back in Fargo a number of times.
From my 1987 Journal, "It was announced the Falcon and Eagle would be leaving shortly, so we decided to wait. Shortly, turned out to be two hours. The F-15 'Eagle' went up first. It pulled up in front of us at a 60 degree angle and was gone. Bob and I bought aircraft pins for $3. I got a F-16 'Falcon' while Bob got a P-51 'Mustang'. The F-16A 'Falcon' went up but at a 70 degree angle with a roll. It was so cool: the sun and mist rolling off the wing. I had used up all my film by this time. The aircraft displays were packing up. The B-17G crew had struck down their displays and concession stand. They boxed it up and wrenched it up into the bomb-bay of the B-17G. After the Falcon took off, so did everyone else. Bob and I celebrated at Godfathers Pizza."
It took hours of work: adjusting exposures, color balance, and cropping to get the Hanimex photos to look half decent. I could do nothing about the out-of-focus images. I find large crowds of people milling around the aircraft to be distracting so occasionally you'll see these people as silhouettes- even more hours in Adobe Photoshop.
Sentimental Journey"Sentimental Journey" was the first B-17G 'Flying Fortress' WW-II heavy bomber that Bob or I ever saw. I was cool to see it shining in the sun with its aluminum skin; bristling with .50 cal. machine guns.
Photo descriptions come primarily from Wikipedia. Addition informational sources: B-17G (Sentimental Journey) (Photos) (History) (Betty Grable), P-51D, PT-17, A-7, F-101B (119th Air Wing), F-16A (120th Fighter Wing), and F-15A (#1) (#2) (Minot AFB) (Mike Ford).
I have scanned and made available additional Historic Information from the Fargo Forum, and the Confederate Air Force Air Display '87 Program.
Note: colored links in the ID column lead to photos of the aircraft in the Gallery. Aircraft without links are often visible in the photos of the aircraft surrounding them.
|C-90||Beech||King Air||Meritcare||N4742M||Air Ambulance|
|B-17G||Boeing||Flying Fortress||CAF Arizona Wing, Mesa||Sentimental Journey||44-83514||N9323Z|
|F-16A||General Dynamics||Fighting Falcon||Montana ANG||81-723|
|F-4C||McDonnell||Phantom II||NDANG||Happy Hooligans|
|F-15A||McDonnell Douglas||Eagle||Minot AFB||Spittn Kittens||76-012||5 FIS|
|P-51D||North American||Mustang||45-11628||NL151X||Pilot: Bill Hane|
|A-7||Vought (LTV)||Corsair II||SDANG|
Scheduled but not there. It is possible some of these were on the south end, where I had no photos
The F-15A 'Eagle' from the Minot AFB flew off before the show was over.
The F-16A 'Fighting Falcon' from the Montana ANG did a pass before leaving.