2014 Event Review

Wings Over Wine Country Air Show, September 20-21, 2014
Location: Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa, California
Admission: $20 for adults, $5 for children (6-12), free for museum members
Parking: $5 with free shuttle buses.
Value: VERY GOOD
Rating out of 10: 8
 
Red Bull helicopter
Chuck Aaron in the Red Bull Helicopter

“Wings Over Wine Country,” the Pacific Coast Air Museum’s annual air show, took place September 20-21, 2014 at the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport. Both its date (a month later than last year) and its location (at the south end of the airport, closer to the museum) were changed this year. The highlight of the show was the first appearance here of the MV-22 Osprey. Sadly, the continuing effects of the budget sequestration process were noted in the absence of other U.S. military aircraft. The flybys by the U-2 and T-38s from nearby Beale AFB, once a standard at this show, were sorely missed. The Canadians, however, did send two RCAF T-6A Texan II (T-6 Harvard II in Canada) trainers which appeared on static display. The show also featured a number of aerobatic and warbird performances.

The venue this year shifted back to the southern end of the airport, close to the museum grounds. This made it easier for the museum to stage essentially all of its aircraft on static display. Most of the aircraft were opened up, making the cockpits accessible to kids of all ages. Crew chiefs and volunteers were on hand to answer questions. A number of warbirds were also on static display prior to their flying performances. Military participation was limited to the MV-22 and two RCAF T-6 Texan IIs. The flightline was much shorter than that in recent years, but there was sufficient space between the chalets to set up folding chairs and get a good view of the action. Bleachers and box seats were available for an additional fee. The gates opened at 0900, but early birds had the option of purchasing a pancake breakfast which allowed access an hour earlier. The breakfast was served in the hangar through which stunt pilot Frank Tallman flew a Beech 18 in the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Saturday morning’s weather was overcast with a low ceiling and the entertainment began with the local RC club flying some of their aircraft. This was followed by the local SWAT team putting on some demonstrations of their capabilities. A simulated hostage rescue saw the police team, accompanied by a K-9 unit, being airlifted in. The whole team, including the dog, was clipped to a rope suspended from a Bell 407 helicopter.

The flying demonstrations began shortly after noon, although the overcast had not yet lifted. A flight of four Nanchang CJ-6 aircraft performed a number of formation flybys including a missing man formation. This was followed by the warbirds. Although there was a nice selection of trainers, fighters and a bomber, the numbers were down significantly from last year’s show. The airport began during World War II as a P-38 training base, so it was nice to see “23 Skidoo” from the Planes of Fame Air Museum in attendance. Also up from Chino was an early-war F4U-1 Corsair. They were joined by a trio of local Mustangs, a Yak-11 “Blyak” and the B-25J Mitchell “Old Glory.”

The skies finally cleared and Jacquie B kicked it into high gear, putting on a very nice aerobatic demonstration in her bright red Extra 300. As she was finishing her routine Dan Buchanan “intruded” into the airbox, leading Jacquie to buzz him a few times. It was all in good fun, and it certainly gets the audience’s attention. Dan soared through the bright blue skies, his orange hang glider and long streamers standing out brilliantly as he put on his demonstration. Next up was a flight of local civilian aircraft: a Stearman, Waco, radial-engined Cessna 195 and a deHavilland Beaver floatplane. This was followed by a number of nice flybys by the DC-3 “Spirit of Benovia.” The aerobatics resumed with Frank “Dr. D” Donnelly flying a nice routine in his clipped-wing Taylorcraft. Greg “Wired” Colyer provided the only jet noise of the day, but impressed the crowd with his very energetic demonstration of the aerobatic capabilities of the T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker.” The Red Bull helicopter was up next. Chuck Aaron is the only pilot licensed in North America to perform the maneuvers that the specially modified Red Bull MBB 105 is capable of doing. The intimate setting of this airshow allowed the spectators to enjoy the show close up and personal. He definitely is a hard act to follow, but the Marines of VMM-166 from MCAS Miramar were up to it. The highlight of the show was the inaugural appearance of the MV-22 at the Wings Over Wine Country air show. The airframe and crew attracted a lot of attention while on static display, but as the engines spooled up and the Osprey taxied out, the crowds surged forward. The “Sea Elks” put on a full tactical demo, including high-speed flybys, transitioning flight as well as a display of the hovering capabilities. It was the perfect way to end the show.

Thanks to the show organizers, sponsors and all of the staff and volunteers for making this such an enjoyable airshow.

Performers:

F-22 Raptor Demo

AV-8B Harrier II Demo

The Patriots Jet Team

Heritage Flight: P-38J Lightning “23 Skidoo” & F-22 Raptor

Michael Wiskus, Pitts Biplane Aerobatics

Metro Fire Bell UH-1H Huey

Vultures Row Aviation, North American T-6 Texan Formation Flying Team

Greg “Wired” Colyer, Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star

PC 7 Team, 9x Pilatus Turbo Trainer, Switzerland

Bill Braack, Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car

Douglas DC-3 “Spirit of Benovia”

North American Sabreliner 60

West Coast Ravens, RV Formation Team

Marcus Paine & Carol Pilon, Third Strike Wingwalking

Lucas Oil Parachute Demonstration Team

Warbirds:

Bell UH-1 Huey

Chance Vought F4U-1 Corsair

Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Grumman F6F Hellcat

Lockheed P-38J Lightning “23 Skidoo”

Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero

North American B-25J Mitchell “Old Glory”

North American P-51D Mustang: “Wee Willy II” & “Kimberly Kaye”

Supermarine Spitfire MkXIV

 

Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for The Aviation Magazine

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