Joint Base Andrews AFB Air Show 2019

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Article written by Daniel O. Myers, photos by Bob Finch unless where noted.

With air boss Wayne Boggs coordinating the flying, announcer Matt Jolley describing the action and Jay Rabbit providing entertaining musical interludes, the Joint Base Andrews “Legends of Flight” air show was underway. Opening with a sterling rendition of the American national anthem, sung by the U.S. Air Force Band’s Tech. Sgt. Ashley Keeks, the U.S. Army Golden Knights jumping from their new Dash-8 aircraft, landed with perfect timing- feet on the pavement- with the American flag.

First to fly, was a flight of four 113th Wing DC ANG F-16C’s (WILD) accompanied by a 756th AFRC KC-135R (DEECEE) refueling the jets. The 113th Wing is the air component of the District of Columbia National Guard and is the only federal national guard unit. The Wing’s F-16s missions include not only maintaining a worldwide deployable fighter force but also defending the National Capital Region during special security events. These “Capital Defenders,” first established in 1940, have been flying the F-16 Falcon since 1990.

As the F-16s taxied backed to their hangers, a flight of four HS-1” MUSCLE” UH-1Ns passed in low-level formation, the length of the ramp and close to the Saturday crowd. These blue and white upgraded Vietnam era helicopters can often be seen flying around the capital region transporting military executives between Joint Base Andrews and the Pentagon.

History was brought to life with “Legends of Flight” demonstrations by B-25 “Panchito”, P-51s “Red Tail”, “Bald Eagle”and “Quick Silver”, and an F4U Corsair, all representing the “Class of ‘45.” A WWII P-17 Stearman trainer flew with ninety-nine years old retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles McGee. The retired colonel is a former WWII Tuskegee “Red Tail Squadron” pilot who trained at Tuskegee, AL where he first flew the P-17. During WWII, McGee flew 136 missions over Nazi occupied Europe. Following the WWII, McGee served in Korea and Vietnam. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1973, Colonel McGee amassed a long list of medals and awards for his service and valor. These included; the Congressional Gold Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 25 clusters, U.S. Army Commendation Medal, U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal with cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation along with several campaign and service ribbons. In 2011, Colonel McGee was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Of the more than 800 black pilots that trained at Tuskegee, AL, Colonel Charles McGee is one of only ten still living.

The Andrew’s show has a long reputation of having a huge collection of static aircraft parked on its large ramp. 2019 was no exception with displays ranging from the smallest civilian planes (micro-jet) to the military’s largest- B-52 bomber and C-17 transport. Modern day military assets were also on parade in the air. The Air Combat Command A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" demonstration was flown by Maj Cody Wilton. Stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB, the A-10C is the Air Force's premier close air support aircraft, providing protection to ground troops. “Tora, Tora,Tora’s Bomb Squad” pyrotechnics shook the ground and, filled the sky with flames and black smoke as the A-10 did simulated bomb runs.

 

Youngsters of all ages rushed to the fence-line when the Shock Wave Jet Truck belched huge flames and black smoke as it raced up the runway, clocked at 368 mph! The estimated 45,000 in attendance was then entertained by some exciting civilian performers; Patty Wagstaff, Michael Goulian, Kent Pietsch and Team Oracle. Team Oracle consists of the legendary Sean Tucker flying the Challenger III and in the Extra 300L, Jessy Panzer- the United Sates only female formation flyer. The Team’s performance began with close formation loops before splitting off into opposing solos. Like well choreographed dance partners, the couple simultaneously danced across the sky executing Hammerheads, Avalanches, Immelmans and Torque Circles. Following Tucker’s 2019 final air show appearance, his Oracle Challenger III biplane will be placed in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

This year’s show featured three formation-flying teams. The always fun-to-watch Geico Skytypers in their six SN-J’s WWII training aircraft filled the sky with white trailing smoke as they performed loops, rolls and opposing solos sequences. The modern military jet demonstration teams- U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels- thrilled the crowd with precise, tight maneuvers and surprise sneak passes. The last time the two teams performed together at Andrews was 2007.

Unfortunately, the flying portion of the Sunday show canceled due to heavy rains. Joint Base Andrews next air show is scheduled for May 2021.

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