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After my visit to Duxford in July I still wanted to see a bit more this year. The choice was not difficult, because if you are a warbird enthusiast and you have already been to Duxford, there is only one more place to go to: Midland, Texas. Midland is the headquarter of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), a volunteer organization that preserves WW II-aircraft and tries to keep them in flying condition.
Where? Midland, Texas - USA
Each year at the beginning of October they are celebrating their homecoming show, the FINA-CAF Airsho. Traditionally the Airshow is splitted up in different theme blocks, with the 60th anniversary of D-Day being a special topic this year.
It all started with the trainer parade, that accumulated a total of 24 T-6 together in the air, followed by the "Tora Tora Tora" action, that was combined with a lot of pyrotechnics. Unfortunatly the wind was towards the crowd on Saturday, so I found myself covered with small pieces of ash and photos of aircraft behind lots of smoke afterwards. Pyro might be great, but not if it is covering the view of the spectacle...
The next event were some aerobatic acts including Julie Clark and the usual Shockwave Truck.
Afterwards it became a lot more interesting for the aviation enthusiast because the aircraft of the Pacific Theatre took of, including the only flying example of a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. A A6M3 Zero was in the air as well at that time, but has been successfully 'defeated' by the Navy fighters. During the display a F/A-18F Super Hornet was taking of and performed subsequently with the Corsair, Hellcat and Bearcat as the Navy Legacy Flight.
Then a typical scene of the Eastern Front was envisaged: a Russian Polikarpov I-16 Rata against the Tante Ju. Unfortunately the Rata was unable to take off due to a high crosswind on the runway. As a consequence the Ju-52 was outplayed by a P-51 Mustang.
The following act stayed on the European continent with aircraft involved in D-Day operations: B-25s, a A-26, C-46 and C-47, accompanied by knife edge passes of the Mustangs. In this connection the B-25s also remembered the famous Doolittle raids against Japan.
More bombers took off for the next act: Strategic Air Support. This was my most anticipated act as the only flying B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" was airworthy again this year! Accompanied by B-17s and a B-24 the sight was extraordinary. P-47s and P-51s performing knife-edge photo passes and the big heavy bombers flying their turns to please the crowd, accompanied by the usual pyro (this time the wind was more favourable). After the photo passes the bombers did land and the fighters performed the Air Force Heritage flight together with a F-16 Fighting Falcon, that performed a solo display afterwards as well.
The Maters of Disaster, a aerobatic and spectacle act involving three aircraft and the Shockwave truck, concluded the flight display and with a missing man formation the show was ended.
Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and as a consequence of this the Airsho's flight display had to be cancelled on Sunday for the very first time in 40 years. However I really had a great time in Midland among all those beautiful birds and could really feel the passion and the pleasure of the people looking for their machines.
If you want to experience this unique show, the next Airsho is scheduled October 1-2, 2005, don't miss it!
I'll end this report with special thanks to the CAF PR department for their excellent support and kindness during the whole Airsho!
Official Homepages: Commemorative Air Force FINA-CAF Airsho
Tora Tora Tora
The War in the Pacific
Bomber & Transport
Strategic Air Support & Pacific
Navy Legacy Flight
Air Force Heritage Flight
F-16C West Coast Demo
Air 2 Air
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Published: 17 April 2007