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Twenty Years of Andrews AFB Air Shows Aircraft 1987 to 2007

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US Air Force F-111.

Andrews Air Force Base is located in Camp Springs, Maryland. Sitting just east of the busy I-95 highway today, the site was first used as a military camp during the Civil War. In 1942, work began on an airport for the Army Air Corps. Beginning as a training base, it became home for Washington D.C.’s special air mission aircraft and crews.

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US Navy DC-130A drone – carrying Hercules.

It became a true “Joint Base” before the term was adopted by the U.S.. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps all had their own places on the sprawling airfield – which boasted parallel runways. In fact, the Navy side of the airport had its own location ID – KNSF, while the Air Force side was known as KADW.

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US Coast Guard TG-8A.

During the 1980s through to the New Millennium, the annual Open House and Air Show featured all full-time branches of the U.S. military on the big Air Force ramp. Add to that Coast Guard (Dept. of Homeland Security or US Navy at times), Air National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Civil Air Patrol and other American and foreign military organizations’ aircraft and one would see scores of diverse types of aircraft. Some years dozens of warbird aircraft would be invited. Other years, special ceremonies and/or anniversaries limited the aircraft (flying and static displayed) to mainly active military examples.

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US Air Force SR-71A.

Many of to the nation’s cutting-edge military aviation programs – both well-known and seldom seen – were assembled. In other years, the Joint Chiefs of Staff assembled, with all of the pomp and pageantry of high military honors which were paraded past spectators to open the shows. 

A sun – soaked Andrew AFB ramp during an Open House.

Weather at Andrews AFB was quite diverse for the annual shows. Normally held over the Armed Forces Day weekend in mid-May, the skies would bring heat, humidity and thunderstorms one day, severe clear and comfortable conditions for the next day, and cold and low overcast the last day. You’ll notice that in these photos! I’ve assembled a bunch of views from the past here… you can hover over a photo (below) to see the type if you want, some are preceded with the year the photo was taken in too.

A different view of an Andrews AFB ramp during an early Air Show Saturday morning.

Last Year and Next Year – Where We’ve Been and What We See Ahead

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U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight at the 2021 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show.

Our three digital aviation magazines Photorecon.net, ClassicWarbirds.net and CivilAviationWorld.com cover a lot of ground where history is concerned. Through our lenses and keyboards, we strive to bring interesting accounts of contemporary and bygone aviation endeavors to our pages, for anybody to enjoy. Our team of writers and photographers are already planning to attend certain aviation events in 2022 to continue our quest to record history, such as air shows, trade shows, military exercises and commercial flight adventures.

From our combined personal archives, we’ll publish past visions that took place decades ago, sharing our good fortune to be at the right place at the right time to take a snapshot of a historical airplane or a view an interesting event.

Here are some newsworthy items that we’ve noticed in 2021; we wonder what some of the new years’ topics in aviation may attract our attention and focus.

In 2021:

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Matt Younkin during his aerobatic routine at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

Air Shows Return! Air shows are great gatherings of people and machines which provide excitement and opportunities to exercise your imagination. With crowd restrictions somewhat eased in 2021, many yearly and biennial events were held, with some interesting limitations. One such show was the Pease Air National Guard’s Thunder Over New Hampshire, which was capacity-controlled to limit crowd size. Others, like Ontario’s Airshow London – SkyDrive and the New York International Air Show at Orange County Airport, have reserved spaces to park and watch the flying presentations from your own vehicle and seats, while there were no static displays. Still others, like the EAA’s huge AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 went on with few restrictions

British Airways has resumed A-380 service as passenger loads approach 2019 numbers in some markets.

Commercial Traffic Rebounds: Airlines are back to operating close to their high 2019 numbers as far as flights and passengers are concerned (at least in the U.S. – our most-heavily covered market). Fewer daily flights, sometimes using larger aircraft that weren’t seen in the past, seem to be a trend. New entrant airlines like domestics Breeze and Avelo, and international companies like Play and Norse Atlantic Airways ASA are just a few of some 90 new airlines that plan to begin service within the next years (according to the Wall Street Journal).

The Airbus 380 fleet, pretty much grounded as the COVID-19 worldwide passenger drop occurred, has made a return to the skies, at least for a short time as business and pent-up leisure demand requires the type’s capacity on some international routes. Belly freight, an important source of revenue for many airlines, went away when the mass groundings of 2019 and 2020 occurred. It is slowly returning, but…

New FedEx B-767-300F; the airline ordered eighteen of these in 2021.

Air Freight Traffic is Rising: What began as a worldwide emergency airlift of medical supplies to respond to COVID-19 is now an uptick in regular air cargo as sea and land cargo shipping has reached or exceeded capacity. In recent months, both Boeing and Airbus have sold new B-767 and B-777 and A-330 and A-350 air freighters at a higher than average pace. Even with passenger jets’ belly cargo space, new demand for air freight is blossoming. Problems with ground and sea shipping congestion have shown a spotlight on air cargo.

A Boeing B-737-MAX9 back in operation.

There are a few thorny issues that haven’t been resolved in 2021. Although the B-737 MAX jets have returned to service after a lengthy grounding, the prolonged certification process with the new Boeing B-777-9 and construction anomalies with some B-787s have delayed development and deliveries. Airbus’ new A-350 has some identified construction issues too.  Airliner orders are still being juggled, with some cancellations and delivery delays requested by customers, but some recent large orders have been finalized.

A new and possibly crippling blow to airport capacity during bad weather events is the much heralded 5G mobile network rollout, which seems to infringe upon radio bands that allow aircraft radar altimeters to be used to reduce their landing weather minimums. In a rare move, both Boeing and Airbus sent a joint letter to U.S. officials stating a large amount of flights’ safety could be affected.

What’s ahead in 2022?

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 A U.S. Air Force HC-130 dragging a pair of CV-22 Ospreys.

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We’ll be covering various special events and discuss military aviation history in ClassicWarbirds.net this year.

The year 2022 is the U.S. Air Force’s 75th Anniversary.  We’re watching for ceremonies and shows which highlight the technology and people who have made this force one to be reckoned with during conflict, and welcomed during times of disaster. Unfortunately, there has been plenty of both last year, here’s hoping next year will allow for reduced operational tempos.

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A New Boeing B-747-8F at the EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

New Air Freighters and Service. We’ll try to keep up with the ever-changing air cargo industry as it adds aircraft and new capacity where it hasn’t been before. Large carriers such as FedEx and UPS have recently ordered new Boeing B-767 freighters. B-737 and A-321 freighters are increasing in numbers too.

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Embraer’s new ERJ-195-E2 is one of a crop of new and more efficient airliners being fielded recently.

New Airline Startups and Services. We’ll keep up with new developments as well as look back at some long-gone companies which didn’t survive various events and economic hurdles. New airliner variants such as the Airbus A-220, Embraer E-195-E2, Boeing B-737MAX, B-777-10 and Airbus A-321neo/XLR and A-350-1000 variants are coming on line, we’ll have plenty of photos of these newer aircraft on our pages. There are new turboprop variants on the boards too!

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The Lockheed Martin F-35C is one of three main variants of the new fighter.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 has just won new orders from Finland, Switzerland and the UAE in 2021. Belgium and Poland will receive F-35s too, and more competitions may mean more airframes ordered. We’ll keep our eyes on this noteworthy system.

Warbird Events: Every week, ClassicWarbirds.net looks back at retired military aircraft. Sometimes it is a scrapbook of a certain type of aircraft, or a  recent air show, or a show from the past. Shows like the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and the EAA Warbirds of America presentations, or the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s air show at Reading PA are yearly favorites, but there are many more too.

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Openers’ Blackfly is an all-electric single person VTOL transport.

Electric aircraft and a new breed of air taxis are being designed, prototyped and some are even flying. Remote control and autonomously operated unmanned aircraft are a reality, we expect to have a few articles about some of the innovations taking to the skies.

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ClassicWarbirds.net covers military aircraft that have been retired from service, but still survive.

In closing, we’ll keep telling stories about aviation through our photos and words. We update our content on a weekly basis, so by all means keep up with our digital aviation magazines! Don’t be shy about telling your friends to take a look too, because we’re happy to share our passion of aviation with anybody. There’ll be plenty of Warbird news and photos from current and past events.

As the Assignment and Content Editor for these three aviation titles, I am humbled to be able to work with some truly great photographers and talented writers. We number around two dozen artists, historians, and scribes, telling our stories through photos, video and written words. I am really proud to be part of this group of passionate people!

Ken Kula

Bob Finch Visits the Military Aviation Museum

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Bob Finch visited Virginia’s Military Aviation Museum earlier this year, and toured a few of the hangars at the Virginia Beach facility. He also got to watch some of the flight operations from the grass runway. We’ve featured this museum in ClassicWarbirds.net in the past, and here’s a fresh look at some of the aircraft based there. 

Looking Back: MASDC/AMARC Bombers in Storage

 

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Photos by Del Laughery and Ken Kula

Here’s a look at various bombers stored in the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) and the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) in Tucson, Arizona. Now known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), the name changes happened last century. 

These are all bomber aircraft, from the diminutive Cessna A-37 to the heavy Boeing B-52. Most aircraft in these photos were retired… some donated parts to keep others flying, others were melted down to be regenerated  in new parts for new aircraft. A lucky few went to museums (like two of the B-47 hulks shown here) and a few more were pulled from mothballs and flown again.

All of these aircraft began their lives as bombers, but by the end of their careers, many were converted into other specialized variants, such as the EB-57 Canberras. The orange NB-52 was a testbed for new flight controls.