August is the time for air shows, and I was able to get to one that is fairly close to home, the Rockford, IL AirFest. I haven’t been to the Rockford air show since it resumed after a lapse in time, but I wanted to head to this one. The headliner for the event was the F-22 Raptor. Now if you’ve read my site a little bit, you’ll know that In attended the EAA air show in Oshkosh, WI last year. The Raptor was there too and it put on a heck of a show, but the ceiling was low and there were storms in the area, so it didn’t do its full routine. I was hoping for better weather this year.
I wasn’t disappointed by the weather. Sunny with broken clouds provided a bright, magnificent day – so much sun that I got burnt (forgot the sunscreen!). I didn’t spend too much time at the static exhibits since I arrived at the show just as the aerial portion was just beginning – a Czech built Albatross was flying as I entered the grounds.
Highlights of the show
I usually go to air shows for the rip and tear of the air as jet aircraft scream by and I wasn’t disappointed by this show. I really enjoyed the Navy/Marine heritage flight. The F-18 put on quite an individual show. At the end of the F-18 show, the two aircraft paired up while in flight and did several fly-bys in front of the crowd. In all of the shows I’ve been at, I’ve never seen a WWII Corsair in flight – it was great! After several photo passes, the Corsair came in for a landing. As the craft was slowing down after landing, the F-18 screamed over the top in a high speed fly-by that excited the crowd.
The AH-64 Apache helicopter and the Sea Harrier also put on good shows. The Apache cruised up and down the flight line showing off its capabilities. The Sea Harrier flew as a normal plane does in flight but then it also transitioned to vertical flight. I’ve seen several different Harrier versions in flight and it never ceases to amaze me how an aircraft can transition from straight flight into a vertical mode.
Towards the end of the show, a B1-B did a series of fly-bys before coming in to land at the airport. This aircraft flew from its base in Texas to put on the show in Rockford. The B1-B come in low and slow with the wings extended and then did a couple high speed passes with the wings swept back. It’s always amazing to see how long it takes for an aircraft of this size – traveling at high speed – takes to turn around.
Lastly, the F-22 put on a HECK of a show. If you look at some of the pictures I got, you’ll see that it was able to pull vapor off of its wing and controlling panel surfaces. It is an amazing aircraft. This plane combines stealth, supersonic speed and a high tech weapons system into one lethal airplane. Toward the end of its solo performance, the F-22 paired up with P-51 Mustang for an Air Force heritage flight.
Lowlights of the show
One of the things that bugged me about the Rockford AirFest is that they have pavilions from sponsoring companies that obscure the view of the runway and flight line. While I can understand the need and desire to keep sponsors happy and reward them in some way, there has to be some way to do it so that all paying participants can fully enjoy the show.
But I’ll probably be back – maybe not next year,but I’ll be back. Check out my gallery of images from the Rockford AirFest!