MCAS El Toro 1992: Hey, I Remember That!

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MCAS El Toro’s 1992 air show had quite a line up, with plenty of jet-engined performers. The 1991 Gulf War’s wind down allowed many combat veterans and their aircraft to be displayed at the show, but there were a few older warbirds that attracted quite an amount of interest too. The Marines’ AV-8B Harriers were in the midst of an equipment upgrade; some had already sprouted FLIR bumps in the bridge of their noses, and some were sporting lower visibility gray color schemes which came into vogue during the lead up to the conflict. OV-10 Broncos were slowly being phased out, replaced by more F/A-18Ds.  An Air Force F-117 - the “Stealth Fighter” – was shown on static display, as was a B-52G Stratofortress.

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Another static display jet, an Idaho Air National Guard F-4G “Wild Weasel”, was one of a few types that would soon finish its fighting career as the U.S. military retired many Vietnam War-era types in short order. Another type parked on static display was an Army OV-1D Mohawk, a Vietnam workhorse but soon to be retired too. A local West Coast – based F-14A Tomcat, operated by the flamboyant VF-114 “Fighting Aardvarks” was supported by plenty of crewmembers, and their sharp orange and black bus; VF-114 would be disestablished the following year. My standout jet during the Friday and Saturday shows that I attended, both for the practice show and first day of the airshow, was a Thunderbird Aviation F-8K Crusader. The jet was for contractor test flight missions, and while it flew in the hazy Friday afternoon skies during the practice show, it never took off on Saturday, much to my chagrin. A few museum pieces, including a MiG-15 and C-119 Flying Boxcar, were arrayed on the ramp too.

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Another warbird parked on the static line was a Grumman HU-16A Albatross amphibian, which was later sold, and moved to Australia. One more interesting aircraft was at first look, a DC-3 in stylish colors.  Upon further research, this transport was once a VIP C-47 (VC-47D to be precise), one of only a few modified as a staff transport for the USAF.

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