John Ratley looks at what early season airshows in the USA can offer
Last year, while on holiday in Florida, a search for an airshow to attend resulted in a visit to the 2006 Tico Warbird Airshow held on the 10/11/12 March. The show takes place at the Space Coast Regional Airport, located on Florida's east coast near the Kennedy Space Centre. The organiser of the show is the 'Valiant Air Command', whose museum backs onto the regional airport serving the local areas of Titusville and Cocoa - that explains the 'Tico' show title!
This three-day show includes the Friday, which is a facility offered to, but not exclusively for, the large number of retired members of the local community. Sunday's show experienced perfect weather, so with warm temperatures and wall-to-wall sunshine, it was a pleasure to arrive at the show and find the display runway running east-west with the crowdline facing north and the sun behind all day.
Air Command museum was closed around the time of the show, for good reason
- its collection includes a number of US Navy exhibits, all taken across
the airfield to form the bulk of the static display for the airshow. They
were quite tightly parked in the static area with wings folded, but a
few were given a bit more room to be photographed, most notably the superb
F-8 Crusader. The static area also contained some modern military aircraft,
with an A-10A from Barksdale and two Sikorsky examples, the SH-60B Seahawk
and the UH-60L Blackhawk. 'Tico Belle', the Douglas C-47A flagship of
the Valiant Air Command that suffered a devastating landing accident in
2001, was also on display enjoying a break from the workshop were its
restoration is nearing completion.
Today's military aircraft were represented in the flying display by the 'F-16 Viper East Demo Team' from Shaw AFB, South Carolina, and the 'F-15 East Coast Demo Team' from Langley AFB, Virginia. They were joined on the far side of the airfield by the CF-104D from the Florida-based Starfighters Team. A second runway runs north-south, its mid-point crossing the eastern end of the display runway, and it was from this second runway that these three jets operated.
The afternoon's flying display included the 'Red Baron Squadron' in their four Stearmans, displays by members of the Valiant Air Command and a 'Heritage Dissimilar Formation Flight' with the P-51 Mustang 'American Beauty'/'Lovely Lila' joining the F-15 and F-16. The most memorable sight of the day had to be the F-86 Sabre with its polished metal finish gleaming in the Florida sun, while the most memorable sound of the day came from the CF-104D Starfighter.
The show did contain a large number of training aircraft, but there was a variety of others to compliment them, which along with the ideal conditions, the airfield layout, and the opportunity to see a museum's collection out on an airfield made this a unique and enjoyable experience. This year's airshow is 16-18 March.