2002 Fargo AirSho, Blue Angels

July 21, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Fargo Airsho: Saturday-Sunday, June 08–09, 2002

This is would be the fifth official Fargo Airsho. The committee used everything they learned to put together the best airshow they could. Unfortunately the weather was bad on Sunday, but Saturday’s show was excellent.

The 2002 edition of the show is the most varied of any show held here. It features a combination of aerobatic demonstrations, hang gliding, parachuting, jet-engine dragster; high-performance military aircraft flying solo and in tight formations and numerous civilian and military aircraft on static display. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, last here for Fargo AirSho 1997, are the featured attraction. -Gerry Gilmour, The Forum

This would be my first airshow with a digital camera. For the next four airshows, I would shoot a combination of film and digital, as I got my feet wet. I used a combination of an Olympus 570 digital camera, a Canon G–1 digital camera, and my Minolta XE–7 with a 500mm CAT lens.

The Blue Angels practiced over our house. We’re on the flight path. I listened to them practice. If they flew right over the house it was a quick whooshing sound. If they were a block or two off, it was a much louder roar. If they were climbing or turning with afterburners it was even louder: a crackling rumble like thunder.

A pair of F–117A Stealth fighters were flying around Fargo when my friend Bob Nelson and I met for lunch. We plan to attend the show on Saturday. Bob was planning on shooting with a slow shutter speed. This sounded weird to me, “You mean blurry?”
I told him I’d pick him up at 11:00.
“That gives me more sack time.”
“We might pick you up earlier. Say 6:00 AM. Just be ready,” I laugh.
I photographed the Blue Angels as they practiced over the house this afternoon, ‘I think they clipped our trees a couple times.’

I brought along my sister, nephews, and my friend Bob Nelson. We were still waiting in line when Skydive Fargo! broke the old North Dakota record as 16 jumped out of Robert Odegaard’s DC–3. We missed the “Happy Hooligan” F–16 fly-b. All the good spots on the flight-line were taken. The sky cleared and it warmed up into the 70s. The sun was hot. I photographed the Marine AV–8A ‘Harrier II’ as it hovered over the flight line. I love that it’s from the “Black Sheep Squadron” (The famous ‘Pappy’ Boyington squadron of WW-II, and Robert Conrad’s TV series)

During a break I left to photograph the airplanes on display. There were almost 30,000 people at the air show, so getting decent photos of the aircraft was impossible.

We were too far back to see Scott Hammack’s jet powered dragster: “Smoke-N-Thunder”. The WW-II Warbirds took to the sky. Pyro was detonated to simulate bombing runs. The fire, smoke and explosions scared my nephews. Fire engines extinguished the pyro display.

‘Fat Albert’ takes off at a 45 degree angle with RATO assisted thrust. We couldn’t see the Blue Angels until they were in the air. I shot a full roll of film as they flew around the sky. Bob had a better angle through the crowd. Bob and I pointed out the Diamond formations and solo pilots as they appeared on the horizon. I had less luck timing crossovers and reflections. I tried to frame the Blue Angel ‘Hornets’ with ground displays. I managed some flags.
The family left right away, which is a mistake. Go early, go solo, or go with Bob.

My aunt and uncle attended today’s airshow. Bob was going. My energy level was so close to zero, I decided against. It was announced the air show wouldn’t start until 1:00 pm due to this morning’s storm. Bob was planning to shoot the Blue Angels from the Ellig Sports Complex at NDSU. He likes the view from the top of the stands.

2002 0608.0637aNighthawk In The DaylightLockheed F-117A 'Nighthawk' stealth fighter-bomber on display from the 'Black Sheep' Squadron' 8th Fighter Squadron; 49th Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, NM. Photo by Craig on Saturday, June 08, 2002 at the Fargo AirSho.


See the Full Gallery or the Gallery Slideshow for more photos from the Fargo Airsho: 92 in total with detailed photo/airplane descriptions. Bob Nelson’s photos (Color Print CN220–223,251) are ©2002, 2019; used with permission. My photos are Digital (Canon G–1) and Color Print Film. ©2002, 2019.

Each aircraft link goes to its first photo in the gallery. The numbered links go to addition aircraft information, usually Wikipedia. I also used the extensive coverage from The Forum newspaper and the NDANG Jet Letter newspaper.

Aircraft On Display

  • A–10 ‘Thunderbolt II’ (aka Warthog/Warthawg) attack aircraft. 30mm gattling canon in the nose. af79–114 “Thunderbolt of Columbia”. AFRC USAF Reserves: 303rd Fighter Squadron out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. 1st Lt. Matt Baxter. 1, 2
  • AV–8B ‘Harrier II’ Marine attack aircraft. #09 From VMA–214 ‘Black Sheep’ Squadron’. Bu.165570. The ‘Harrier’ jump-jet was designed by the British, and built for the USMC by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). 1, 2
  • B–25J–35-NC ‘Mitchell’ WW-II medium bomber painted as “Betty’s Dream” ‘Pop’ Rice. #0934. sn 45–8835. 1, 2, 3
  • B–25J–35-NC ‘Mitchell’ WW-II medium bomber painted as “Lady Luck” Dedicated to the men of the 51st Bomb Wing. 1, 2, 3, 4
  • C–47 ‘Skytrain’ WW-II cargo aircraft painted as NDANG Minnie “H” sn 4293800. Flown by Bob Odegaard. N1XP. 1, 2
  • C–130H3 ‘Hercules’ turboprop cargo transport. #7822 (MNANG) AFRC 934th Airlift Wing “Flying Vikings” based out of the Maple Grove USAF Air Reserve Station, MN. Lt. Colonel Dick Gabe (Pelican Rapids, MN), Major Caleb Merriman, Tech. Sgt. Tracy Meyer, and 1st Sgt. Eric camp. 1, 2
  • EC–130 ‘Hercules’ turboprop command and control platform. Master Sgt. Ron Burgoon of the 12th Air Force’s 355th Wing, 12nd Squadron out of Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. A crew of 21 including pilot Captain Shawn Sharritt 1, 2
  • F–4U–4 ‘Corsair’ #310 Navy VF 42 NX72378, Bu.97388. 1, 2
  • F–4G ‘Super Corsair’ The Worlds only flying Super Corsair. N5588N Sohio 57. 1
  • F–14D ‘Tomcat’ Navy fighter. #105. 1
  • F–16B ‘Falcon’ fighter-trainer, (Block 15G) af81–0820 on display for the NDANG 178th Fighter Squadron "Happy Hooligans. 1, 2, 3.
  • FW–100-PW200 engine display. 1
  • F/A–18C ‘Hornet’ fighter-attack aircraft. VFA–151, #310. 1, 2
  • F/A–18E ‘Super Hornet’ fighter-attack aircraft. NE #111, Cmdr Gregg “Mongo” Sears. 1
  • F/A–18F ‘Super Hornet’ fighter-attack aircraft. #113 Lt Dean “Sticks” Sibley, Lt. John “Swest” Batless. 1
  • F/A–18F ‘Super Hornet’ fighter-attack aircraft. #102. 1
  • F–117A ‘Nighthawk’ stealth fighter-bomber. HO 49th Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, NM. 1, 2, 3
    • F–117A ‘Nighthawk’ static: Major Bruce Smith, af86?–791 8th Fighter the ‘Black Sheep’ Squadron.
    • F–117A ‘Nighthawk’ flying: Lt. Colonel Joe Skaja, 7th Combat Training Squadron
  • L–29 ‘Delfin’ Czech jet trainer. (Soviet livery) N81637. 1966 Aerovodochody sn:591627. 1
  • P–51D ‘Mustang’ “Dazzling Donna”. 1, 2, 3
  • TBM–3E ‘Avenger’. 1
  • T–37 ‘Tweet’ RA 12th FTW, Randolph AFB, TX. 1, 2
  • T–38 ‘Talon’ EN 80th FTW , Sheppard AFB, TX. afxx–8369. 1, 2
  • T–38 ‘Talon’ XL 47th FTW, Laughlin AFB, TX. afxx–4200. 1, 2
  • AT–6 ‘Texan’ silver trainer. U.S. Air Force 244495, TA–495. 1
  • T–6 ‘Texan’ trainer. yellow. U.S. Air Force 114799, TA–799. 1
  • T–2C ‘Buckeye’ US Navy trainer. 159159 from VT–9 based at Naval Air Station Meridian in Miss. A #79. “Tigers” CTM–1. 1, 2
  • UH–60 ‘Black Hawk’ Sikorsky helicopter. Captain Paul Helten, North Dakota Army National Guard’s 112th Aviation Wing, 1st Battalion. 1, 2
  • Yak–52 prop trainer. 1
  • Meritcare “Life Flight” Beechcraft “Super King Air”. 1
  • C–21A Lear Jet 35/36. 1
  • F–4J ‘Phantom II’ Blue Angels cockpit (1969–73)Max. Steven Blevins, owner of Dream Photos.
  • Scott Hammack: “Smoke-N-Thunder” jet powered dragster goes from 0 to 300 mph in 6 seconds or less. Acceleration is at 4.5 Gs and upon deployment of the parachute Scott experiences an –11 G-force. 1, 2, 3
  • Jim ‘Fang’ Maroney flies a 1956 Canadian DH-C1 ‘Super Chipmunk’. 1
  • Dan Buchanan flies the ‘Sonic’ hang glider by Moyes Delta Gliders (Botany, Australian). Steve Pavon controls the hydraulic winch. 1
  • Kent and Warren Pietsch, Minot ND. Flying their yellow Jelly Belly aircraft. 1
  • C–130 ‘Hercules’ “Fat Albert”. 1
  • F/A–18C ‘Hornets’ “The Blue Angels”. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • F–16A ‘Falcon’ fighter NDANG “Happy Hooligans” demonstration. 1, 2
  • Skydive Fargo! spokesman Dave Sornsin and team break the North Dakota state free-fall formation record. Miles Hubbard (Richmond, MN) Load organizer. 1

Fargo AirSho Schedule

0900 Gates open
1000 Radio-controlled airplanes
1100 Skydive Fargo!(show opens)
1115 Happy Hooligans, F–16s take-off
1130 Scott Hammack: Smoke-N-Thunder
1145 Harrier demo
1200 Happy Hooligans F–16 formation flying
1225 F–16 demo
1240 Lunch break
1320 Kent and Warren Pietsch’s Comedy act
1335 Dan Buchanan hang glider
1350 T-Craft
1410 Warbird flybys/P–51 demo
1435 Smoke-n-Thunder/Super Chipmunk Race
1450 Super Corsair Demo
1503 Super Chipmunk
1520 Blue Angels walkdown/taxi
1530 Blue Angels performance

CN251a11Blue Angel StackUSN Commander Rob Field (#1 Commander/Leader), USN Lieutenant Todd Abrahamson (#2 Right Wing), USN Lieutenant Jerry Deren (#3 Left Wing), and USN Lt. Commander Max McCoy (#4 Slot) perform an Echelon Parade pass. Photo by Bob Nelson, on Saturday June 8, 2002 at the Fargo AirSho.

Blue Angel Officers

  1. USN Commander Rob Field (#1 Commander/Leader) source
  2. USN Lieutenant Todd Abrahamson (#2 Right Wing)
  3. USN Lieutenant Jerry Deren (#3 Left Wing)
  4. USN Lt. Commander Max McCoy(#4 Slot)
  5. USN Lt. Commander Scott Kartvedt (#5 Lead Solo)
  6. USN Lt. Commander Martin (#6 Opposing Solo)
  7. USMC Captain Len Anderson (#7 Narrator)
  8. USN Lieutenant Marcello Caceres (#8 Events Coordinator)

2002 0608.0612aMinnie HA Douglas C-47 'Skytrain' WW-II cargo aircraft painted as NDANG Minnie "H" at the Fargo AirSho. Flown by Bob Odegaard. N1XP. The original Minnie "H" is in West Fargo at the Bonanzaville museum. Photo by Craig on Saturday, June 08, 2002 at the Fargo AirSho.

Duggy and Minnie H

The original “Minnie H” was a side-wheel steamboat that carried passengers and mail on Devils Lake from July 4, 1883, to the fall of 1909. The name was transferred to a C–47 which flew for the North Dakota Air National Guard for another twenty years. Officially stock number VC–47A–25DK; serial number 4293800, this C–47 was build in 1943 by Douglas Aircraft (Oklahoma). It was accepted by the US Army Air Corps in January 1944. She served in the China-Burma-India Theatre (WW-II) flying The Hump: the famous aerial supply route from India to China through the Himalayas. She also served in Europe before being assigned to the NDANG on July 7, 1947. It’s estimates the guard flew ‘Minnie H’ 12,000 hours (22,000 hours total) before she was retired. She served four N.D. governors as the state’s official flagship: Fred G. Aandahl, Norman Brunsdale, John Davis and William Guy. But her finest hours were spent helping those in need.

Probably best remembered by many will be the mercy flights the ‘Minnie H’ flew, transporting polio patients, rushing rare blood or needed serum to hospital patients or transporting key pieces of heavy bulky equipment to help in battles against natural disasters. -The Forum, 7/31/1972

Four of the most dramatic mercy errands were:

  1. “Operation Haylift” in the winter of 1949, when the “Minnie H” and a second C–47 operated by the NDANG dropped thousands of tons of hay and other vital supplies to snowbound cattle and farmers in western North Dakota.
  2. The trip in November 1950 with a 7-year-old Fargo polio victim from Fargo to Miami, Fla., after Air Guard maintenance crews made special provisions in the plane to handle an iron lung.
  3. The hurried trip in the spring of 1950 to North Carolina to pick up 10,000 burlap bags for use in making sandbags to protect utilities and homes in Fargo - Moorhead from the rampaging Red River.
  4. The flight in January 1967 from Minneapolis to Jamestown with a young North Dakota man dying of cancer who wanted to spend his last hours at home.

In 1988 “Minnie H” was moved for a final time from Bismarck to her new home in West Fargo. On July 14 a CH–54 ‘Skycrane’ helicopter from Meridian (Mississippi Air National Guard), made the delivery. The engine and wings made the trip by Army Guard flatbed truck. N.D. Adjutant General, Major General MacDonald, a former pilot of this C–47 was on hand to watch.
As of 2019 “Minnie H” is still at Bonanzaville, on display in the Eagles Air Museum. She is showcased as “The Governor’s Plane.”

An older C–47 (built in September 1942) served in the Pacific Wing of the Air Transport Command (Australia) during WW-II. She was sold as war surplus. She spent almost 50 years working for the Canadian Department of Transportation (CF-DOT.)
Harry Thompson and Robert Odegaard purchased the aircraft and restored it to the original colors of a NDANG C–47: “Minnie H”, in 1998.

In 2004, it was reconditioned, painted a bright yellow, and given a smiley face by SkyHarbour in Canada. Named “Duggy”, for its character on the kid’s cartoon “Duggy And His Flying Friends”. (Duggy is a project created from Mitch Carley’s cartoon characters.)

But today this C–47 pays tribute to “Minnie H” as she takes on the Fighting Sioux. “..the UND football team, was part of the airplane pull. The football team actually pulled a C–47 aircraft in a test of strength against other muscular types.”


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