(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

CoNA, the Centennial of Naval Aviation was the major theme for US Navy airshows in 2011. Amongst those events listed as "Tier 1" was also the show NAS Oceana, and with Oceana being the US Navy's 'Master Jet Base' on the East Coast there were many good reasons to go there and celebrate this event.

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Where? NAS Oceana, VA, USA
When? 23-25/09/2011

Unfortunately after all it must be said that the event was a quite a disappointment. Partly of course because the weather did not play ball and some hours on Friday afternoon during the rehearsal were in retrospective the best part of the week-end.
Whereas the USN Fleet Airpower Demonstration could be preformed as well as most of the other fast jet displays, the Blue Angels display had to be cut short after one fly-by as black clouds were coming in fast and only some minutes later the whole ramp was flooded by a heavy rain shower. Furtunately there were at least some sunny spells during the fly-in of some aircraft.

 So 7260 700 470 90
 So 7260 100 67 85
 So 7527 100 67 85
 So 7689 100 67 85
 So 7782 100 67 85
 So 7784 100 67 85
 So 7802 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7114 700 470 90
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7114 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7160 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7195 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7716 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7717 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7821 100 67 85
  F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7178 700 470 90
  F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7178 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7176 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7177 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7187 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7722 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7732 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7742 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7743 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7765 100 67 85
 F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7775 100 67 85
F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7130 100 67 85
F 18F Super Hornet Demo 7151 100 67 85
  C 2 7564 700 470 90
  C 2 7564 100 67 85
 C 2 6874 100 67 85
 C 2 7549 100 67 85
 C 2 7632 100 67 85
 HH 65 Dauphin 7266 700 470 90
 HH 65 Dauphin 7266 100 67 85
 HH 65 Dauphin 7275 100 67 85
 T 34C 7308 100 67 85
 T 39 7259 100 67 85
 T 45 Goosehawk 7700 100 67 85
 T 45 Goosehawk 7711 100 67 85
 MH 53 6864 700 470 90
 MH 53 6864 100 67 85
 MH 53 7300 100 67 85
 S 60 6853 700 470 90
 S 60 6853 100 67 85
 S 60 6857 100 67 85

The weather from Friday was a herald for the rest of the week-end, and as the skies did not improve during the week-end, it is somehow no wonder that I have rarely attended a show with so few spectators as NAS Oceana 2011: the bleacher seats remained empty for the most part, and even later in the day it was possible to get a place along the fence line in order to get a view on the wet runway.
The low cloud ceiling on Saturday also only made it possible to bring the USAF F-16, USMC Harrier and an USN F/A-18 in the air, and with similar conditions on Sunday it was a long wait until the early afternoon when the program finally started.

 F 16C 7087 700 470 90
 F 16C 7087 100 67 85
 F 16C 7097 100 67 85
 F 16C 7099 100 67 85
 F 16C 7654 100 67 85
  FA 18C Hornet Demo 7514 700 470 90
  FA 18C Hornet Demo 7514 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7403 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7422 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7451 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7478 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7496 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7520 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7532 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7534 100 67 85
 FA 18C Hornet Demo 7882 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 6927 700 470 90
 AV 8B Harrier 6927 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 6930 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 6941 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 6943 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 6948 100 67 85
 AV 8B Harrier 7567 100 67 85

However, after the Fleet Airpower Demonstration the whole flying was once again called to an end and after the rain showers stated again it was finally cancelled. As a result of this after three show days amongst other show acts also the USN Blue Angels never performed in front of the public during this year's Oceana Airshow.

 C 130 Fat Albert 7727 700 470 90
 C 130 Fat Albert 7727 100 67 85
 C 130 Fat Albert 7738 100 67 85
 C 130 Fat Albert 7742 100 67 85
 C 130 Fat Albert 7745 100 67 85
 C 130 Fat Albert 7748 100 67 85
 C 130 Fat Albert 7750 100 67 85
  Blue Angels 7236 700 470 90
  Blue Angels 7236 100 67 85
 Blue Angels 7204 100 67 85
 Blue Angels 7221 100 67 85
 Blue Angels 7539 100 67 85
 Blue Angels 7680 100 67 85
 Blue Angels 7682 100 67 85

Compared to recent years, and what could be seen during Friday's rehearsal of the airpower demo, this part of the program seemed to be scaled down as well. The E-2C Hawkeye demonstration was missing and though there were some 10+ Hornets and Super Hornets in the air, the mainly did only some level fly-bys and it somehow seemed that the key aspect of these demonstrations were the pyrotechnics on the ground. But maybe I am still spoiled by the impressions when this show was done with the F-14 Tomcat...

 Airpower Demonstration 6920 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6920 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7071 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7074 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7079 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7083 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7084 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7574 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7575 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7599 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7609 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7614 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7673 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6970 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6970 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7620 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7794 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7800 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7825 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7889 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6983 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6983 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7003 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7014 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7020 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7045 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7656 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7660 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7843 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7847 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7854 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7866 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7881 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6983 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6983 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7003 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7014 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7020 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7045 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7656 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7660 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7843 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7847 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7854 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7866 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7881 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6977 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6977 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7042 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7047 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7058 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7625 100 67 85
 SH 60 6991 700 470 90
 SH 60 6991 100 67 85
 SH 60 7008 100 67 85
 SH 60 7644 100 67 85
 SH 60 7646 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6954 700 470 90
 Airpower Demonstration 6954 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6960 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 6979 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7030 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7065 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7577 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7580 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7581 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7588 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7663 100 67 85
 Airpower Demonstration 7669 100 67 85

A very nice sight would have also been the fly-bys of the DC-9 and B737 (or C-9 and C-40 respectively), but there is nothing more you can offer under such conditions:

  C 9B 7290 700 470 90
  C 9B 7290 100 67 85
 C 40 7295 100 67 85
 C 40 7296 100 67 85
 C 9B 6867 100 67 85
 C 9B 6868 100 67 85

As already mentioned the flight program on Saturday was more or less cancelled, and Sunday was not that much better. Looking at the Warbirds the Corsair, Bearcat, Dauntless and Wildcat were not to be seen, but at least the Skyraider and Avenger were up in the air. This goes also for the A-4C Skyhawk, which was in my opinion the best display of the day. And the rarest sight as well! Due to the lack of Warbirds in the air the US Tailhook Legacy Flight was also not shown, as well as many of the civilian airshow acts.

 A 4B Skyhawk 7647 700 470 90
 A 4B Skyhawk 7647 100 67 85
 A 4B Skyhawk 7666 100 67 85
 A 4B Skyhawk 7672 100 67 85
 A 4B Skyhawk 7690 100 67 85
 A 4B Skyhawk 7692 100 67 85
 A 4B Skyhawk 7698 100 67 85
  Skyraider 7582 700 470 90
  Skyraider 7582 100 67 85
 Skyraider 7560 100 67 85
 Skyraider 7605 100 67 85
 Skyraider 7634 100 67 85
 Avenger 7568 700 470 90
 Avenger 7568 100 67 85
 Avenger 7594 100 67 85
 Avenger 7612 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 6886 700 470 90
 F4U Corsair 6886 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 6889 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 6904 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 7552 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 7556 100 67 85
 F4U Corsair 7606 100 67 85
 Curtis Pusher 7386 700 470 90
 Curtis Pusher 7386 100 67 85
 Curtis Pusher 7387 100 67 85
 Curtis Pusher 7394 100 67 85
 Curtis Pusher 7541 100 67 85

So, should we blame the weatherman? Well, maybe not for everything... At least the damp conditions were good for some nice vapour clouds around the jets during their fast fly-by, even during the low shows.

And not only the look in the sky was appalling, but also the one in the static display. Many of the well-researched and created aircraft wearing CoNA schemes were missing, and with more than 100 Oceana-based F/A-18E/F Super Hornets it was more than remarkable that none of these jets was presented in the static display, missing as well as many other of the USN different aircraft types. The ideas of a Centennial Celebration are different for sure, and not everything that might be wished for or thought of is realizable, but leaving the big ramp so empty was in my opinion a missed chance to please the enthusiasts that travelled many miles – some even as far as from Japan - to come and see their favourite aircraft.

 Static 7692 700 470 90
 Static 7692 100 67 85
 Static 7694 100 67 85
 Static 7768 100 67 85
 Static 7789 100 67 85
 Static 7798 100 67 85
 Static 7817 100 67 85
Static 7534 100 67 85
Static 7544 100 67 85
 Static 7515 700 470 90
 Static 7515 100 67 85
 Static 7543 100 67 85
 Static 7774 100 67 85
 Static 7779 100 67 85
 Static 7791 100 67 85
 Static 7796 100 67 85
 Static 7823 100 67 85
 Static 7827 100 67 85

Oceana Airshow 2011 thus failed to live up to expectations, and I am not sure if it would have been that much better with glorious sunshine during the whole week-end. Considering to go back to the show in Oceana once again it might be a wise choice to wait until the Navy's worldwide obligations decline, leaving some more efforts and resources to provide for such a 3-day Event.

Some more photos are linked here and are availabel in higher resolution:

911  F 18f Super Hornet Demo 7170 911  Blue Angels 7216 911  F 18f Super Hornet Demo 7127

911  F 18f Super Hornet Demo 7716 911  F 18f Super Hornet Demo 7187 911  S 60 6857

911  T 45 Goosehawk 7708 911  T 39 7254 911  Airpower Demonstration 7620

911  Airpower Demonstration 7079 911  Airpower Demonstration 7074 911  A 4b Skyhawk 7656

911  Airpower Demonstration 7065 911  Airpower Demonstration 7581 911  C 2 7559

911  C 2 7112 911  Airpower Demonstration 7669 911  Airpower Demonstration 7587

911 Oceana F 16c 7099 911 Oceana Sh 60 7651 911  Av 8b Harrier 6941

911  Airpower Demonstration 7812 911 Oceana Airpower Demonstration 7058 911  Avenger 7612

911 Oceana Static 7692 911  Fa 18c Hornet Demo 7403 911 Oceana F4u Corsair 6893

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