Quonset Point, RI – Legends and myths exists for everything and anything. Air shows are no exception. If you ask any aviation enthusiast about Flying Legends or the Royal International Air Tattoo, either a smile will appear on their face or you hear…” Oh I heard about that one, they say it is awesome”. The same can be said about the Rhode Island Air Show, commonly referred to as the Quonset Air Show. Set early on the calendar, Air Museum Network ventured up I-95 to Quonset Point in search of a myth and legend.
Early on, the reality of the stories became evident. We were advised “Get there early, and true to form, the line forms outside the base at 6 am”. The early birds got whipped by the wind and the cold breeze that come from the ocean which is just a stone’s throw away. Every hour of wait was rewarded with being able to get one step closer to the now infamous starting line. The crowd began to congregate under a retired Evergreen 747 as if it were the starting line of the New York Marathon. We then began to understand what we were told, “Be prepared to run”.
At 9am sharp, the rope drops and the mad dash is on. Old and young, men and women all run for a piece of real estate at the front of the crowd line. This appears to be a time honored tradition. Guardsmen sat on the tarmac with cameras and cell phones to photograph the east coast version of the Oklahoma Land Rush, or as Aviation Photographer Bruce Vinal Jr. put it “It looks like the running of the bulls in Pamplona!”. With the crowd in place, it was time for the aviation extravaganza to kick off.
On schedule, the acts took to the air; Mike Goulian, Rob Holland, Sean D. Tucker, Geico Skytypers, US Navy F-18 Super Hornet Tac Demo Team, USAF F-16 Viper Demo Team and USMC AV8B Harrier all were there.
As one team or pilot performed, another was on deck ready to go. This was only the beginning. Randy Ball dazzled the crowd with the unique afterburner flame of the MiG 17 while Mark Murphy paid homage to the late John Glenn in an F4U Corsair. Fans have become accustomed to seeing Mark in his P-51D Mustang “Never Miss”, so it was quite a treat to see this pilot extraordinaire fly the bent wing wonder.
If this blend of aircraft performing wasn’t enough, throw words like Shockwave and Sasquatch and you get something that only a modern day Dr. Frankenstein would think of. A truck and biplane with jet engines. This is wrong on so many levels but, even the Frankenstein Monster was loved.
The Combined Arms Air Power Demonstration put on by the Rhode Island National Guard (as well as units from surrounding states) was the cherry on the cake. Blackhawks, Apaches, Chinooks and C-130s flying in an orchestrated ballet is mind blowing. If they had added pyrotechnics, enthusiasts would have died and gone to heaven.
What was impressive was that everything described transpired by 1 or 2PM. So what does one do for the rest of the day? After a 45 minute intermission the fans were treated to repeat performances. With the exception of the Air Power Demonstration, all major acts gave fans a second serving of dessert.
It is important to note that, the headliner of this particular air show was to be The Snowbirds – Royal Canadian Air Force Flight Demonstration Team. With extremely short notice and due to a safety stand down, the team cancelled their appearance. Social media buzzed with concerns that this would compromise the quality of this show. I am sure organizers had a couple of sleepless nights but they stayed true to the words “The show must goon”. What they succeeded in doing was downright spectacular.
The day started off cold, cloudy and windy. What was supposed to be a late May morning was looking more like a late autumn night. There was little expectation but a lot of hope. In the end, the Air Show Gods delivered perfection. Five and a half hours of non-stop high impact flying, clear blue skies, a mellow breeze and lighting like never seen before. There is a spot on Mount Olympus for this air show. We can safely say, it isn’t a myth, it is what legends are made of.
You must be logged in to post a comment.