06/23/2012 Latrobe Air Show


Latrobe Air Show 2012 was held at Latrobe Arnold Palmer airport, just 45 minutes drive from my home.  It is a nice cross-country destination from Beaver County airport, and I have flown to this place several times.  In the most recent one, I shot an ILS approach in actual IMC for the first time there.

I visited there one day before the show to see practice flights.  NOTAM (NOTice to Air Men) indicated that the airport was going to be closed from noon to 4:30pm for the air show practice.  My plan was getting there early, taking pictures of Blue Angels flying in, and then watching the full show practice.

But, when I got there around 10am, Blue Angels' F-18s were already parked at the ramp.  According to a person at the airport, Blue Angels flew in on Wednesday, and did one practice on Thursday already.  I missed their landing.  Anyway, I parked my car at the terminal parking and stayed there to watch the practice flights all afternoon.

Soon, C-130 from 911th Airlift Wing flew in.  In fact, this C-130 did a high-speed low pass before landing.  But, unfortunately I could not see it behind the passenger terminal until it came close.  I didn't have time to adjust my zoom.

C-130 of 911th Airlift Wing.

Airbus 320 of Spirit Airlines

911th Airlift Wing is scheduled to close.  They received one year extension before closure, and now senators and politicians are trying to overturn the decision of closure.  I personally want them to stay and host Wings Over Pittsburgh for the coming years.

Then an airplane called the tower on the radio and asked if he could fly in the airport during the break between 1:45 and 2pm.  The tower refused the request because it is too closed to scheduled Blue Angels practice.  Since I heard that on the radio, I believed that Blue Angels was going to fly a little after 2pm.

Then, civilian aerobatic teams flew for practice, and F-18C flew some maneuvers, and finally it was the turn for Blue Angels.  It was close to 3pm.

F-18C model is getting rare.

We had some rain drops.  Also Convective Sigmet (caution for thunderstorm) was in effect over south western Pennsylvania, and Latrobe was on the edge of the Sigmet.  Despite the weather warning, the sky over Latrobe was cleared up by the time Blue Angels took off.  Blue Angels flew all full-show maneuvers.

If you want to take a close-up of a single Blue Angels airplane, aim at #6 after take off.  It does half cuban-eight and then makes a right turn toward the spectator area.

The next day.  I left home around 9am.  Even with a hard traffic jam, I expected to get there by 11am.  It usually takes 45 minutes.  It shouldn't take 2 hours.  But, something was wrong when I came close to the airport.  My GPS indicated I was 1.1 mile from the airport.  But, it took 30 minutes to move only 0.2 miles.  It was already 10:30am.  It should take some time to walk from the parking to the air show ramp.  It would take more than 3 hours if I was stuck there.

What appeared stranger was that cars from US-30 Eastbound was not moving, while cars from the other roads were moving.  Was there an accident?  I couldn't tell from my location, but I decided to pass those cars, drive beyond the intersection of US-30 and US-981 and turn back.  It worked.  I was able to get in the air show parking soon.  I didn't see any disabled vehicle or an accident.  Apparently, a moron was not able to join the incoming flow of the traffic and blocking all cars behind.

But, it was so clear that most of the traffic was coming from the intersection of US-30 and US-981.  Someone should have been directing the traffic there.  I saw no police officer at the intersection.

I missed some of the opening flights.  The first flight I saw was B-25 Mitchell "Panchito".  I see this particular B-25 in almost all the air shows in this area.  It's one of the familiar faces of an air show around here.

B-25 Mitchell "Panchito"

P-51 Mustang "Cincinnati Miss"

Until I came to the U.S. I never imagined that I could see B-25 and P-51 flying in front of me so many times.  I am so lucky.  Almost every time I come to an air show this feelings comes to me.

Alabama Boys showed a truck landing as they did last year.  For some reason I was not able to get a good picture of the demo.

When F-18C took off for the aerobatics, scattered clouds moved in to the area.  One chunk covered the sun and cast the shadow over the airport.  I took some pictures anyway, but the airplane appeared dark.  I don't think there is a magic (other than later image processing) to take a crisp and clear picture in this condition.  The shadow was only over the airport, and the background (sky) was bright.  Unless I increase the exposure compensation to +1.0 or maybe even +2.0, the airplane appears dark.  But, if I do that, the background will become plain monotonic white.

F-18C.  The timing was ok.  But, we didn't have light.

Then came Sean D. Tucker.  I go to an air show that hosts Blue Angels or Thunderbirds and end up with watching him also.  His aerobatic flight was still outstanding.  I was happy go see him again.

Sean D. Tucker's Oracle Challenger.

Aeroshell aerobatic team.

The Blue Angels' show starts with a demo of C-130 "Fat Albert" demo.  But, for some reason they used Normal Marines C-130 for this part.  The rumor is that Fat Albert is down for maintenance.

C-130 in a normal Marine corps marking flew substitute for Fat Albert.

It was followed by 6 F-18Cs.  Due to the scattered clouds, they flew a low show. Which excludes some vertical maneuvers.

Surprise pass.  Such a low altitude!

Line abreast loop became line abreast low pass because it was a low show.  I should have selected positive EF to make it brighter.

It was a nice air show.  I enjoyed and wish they are going to do it again next year.  If they can, I wish they hire a police officer to direct the traffic at US-30 and US-981.  The traffic jam was out of control.  Also, there were too few food stands.  Other typical air show had bunch of hamburger and hot-dog stands.  In this one, there was only one place we could get a hamburger.  This time my wife got some food for lunch, but if I had been by myself, I probably didn't eat anything because  I didn't want to get stuck in a food line and miss some flights.  If possible, I want them to put more food stands next year.  Or, maybe I would carry a lunch box next time.

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