2015 Dayton Air Show


I have visited Dayton Air Show on 6/20 and 6/21.  We drove from Pittsburgh to Columbus OH.  Had a lunch break in Belle's Bread at Kenny Center Mall, and headed to the hotel in Springfield.

The weather was the worst.  A strong high pressure was centered over Florida, around which clock-wise air flow was delivering hot humid air mass from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  On top of it, a tropical storm system was just passing through western Ohio, exactly where Dayton airport is located, on the day 1 of the air show.

The local TV station was nonetheless predicting the weather to clear up into the afternoon.  The aviation weather forecast called Terminal Aerodrome Forecast at 7:21AM was also predicting scattered cloud at 1200ft above ground, and overcast layer 12000ft above ground from noon.  Below is the screenshot from the TAF.  "FM201600 VRB04KT P6SM SCT012 OVC120" means from 1600UTC (1200 eastern daylight time), wind from variable direction at 4kt, greater than 6 miles visibility, scattered cloud at 1200ft, overcast cloud at 12000ft.  Which was a flyable condition.  If the weather turns out as forecasted, something may fly.  We left the hotel into a heavy rain.

Although we left the hotel later than a regular year, we saw fewer cars in the parking.  But, we were not the first.  We were not the only die-hard air-show fans.  We stayed in the car til 10am or so and then walked to the air-show are in a poncho.

A-4 Skyhawk of Draken International.  Draken International is a company that provides a virtual enemy (aggressor) aircrafts for military training.  I wish they had flown a demo, but static display only.

Airplanes of the Breitling Aerobatic team.

What I was looking forward to in this airshow was the Breitling Aerobatic team.  Dayton air show invites something different every year, and this time it was the Breitling team.

I came to aware of the Breitling team when Discovery Wings channel still existed.  The channel was using a short video clip between the program and the commercial.  The Breitling team was featured in the short video clilp.  It was short, but the quality looked very high.  I have been wanting to see the team since then.

Jet Truck performing in despite a heavy rain.  I don't think I have ever seen the Jet Truck excited the spectators this much before.

The problem was there was no way of flying in this bad weather.  TAF, which was originally predicting the weather to recover by noon, was then predicting that the recovery was delayed by one hour.  But, still it was talking about a flyable weather from 1pm.

My shoes were totally soaked and muddy, and puddles were everywhere over the grass spectator area.  There seemed to be no chance of flying activity, but ...

The rain finally weakened, and patches of blue sky surprisingly appeared here and there.  The air show official announced that they were working on extending the temporary flight restriction over the airport (which is an air-space reservation for the air show) by one hour and starting the flight demonstration!  Finally!

Mr. Sean D. Tucker's Oracle Challenger took to the sky first.  He did some weather observation, and then did his routine.

The weather really cleared up!

The next was the F-18 demo.  In this humid condition, I was expecting to see a puff of water vapor around the airplane during the high-speed pass.  Well, it didn't show too much vapor.  It was ok.

High-Speed pass.

Photo pass.

The Breitling team started the engines, finally!  But, the air-boss frequency was asking the team to keep the flight within 15 minutes to give time for Thunderbirds.  It is understandable, but wasn't 15 minutes too short?

Anyway, the team took off!  Although patches of blue sky were here and there, still scattered clouds are staying low.  They didn't do any vertical maneuvers.  But, one good thing was they dispensed flare while in a formation in the last pass.  That was very nice.

Dispensing flares in the last pass.

The Thunderbirds flew the last.  Thunderbirds were supposed to visit north eastern U.S. two years ago, 2013.  Looks like they take turns with Blue Angels.  Last year and three years ago were Blue Angels' turn to visit mostly north eastern U.S.  However, due to the infamous forced budget cut, Thunderbirds cancelled the show in 2013.  So, it was my first time to see the Thunderbirds since 2011.

Although it was a flat show, they flew an impressive performance as always.

Sneak pass after diamond 360

Four-airplane converging after level opener.  What a precise timing!

I was totally forgetting that an additional sneak pass was included in the flat- and low-show after solo minimum-radius turn.  I missed one opportunity.

I was happy to see Breitling and Thunderbirds.  Many people left the airport earlier due to rain.  I was expecting much less traffic jam than usual.  But, the traffic jam was not an issue.  The parking lot was like a swamp.

The best general-admission parking for Dayton air show is off Northwood blvd.  You get off I-75 exit 64, then turn west bound.  Then make a right turn at the T-intersetction.  The parking is on your left.  You will need to walk 10 minutes or so, but you won't have to ride a parking shuttle bus.  However, this parking is not a hard surface.  The rain was so intense.  Downtown Dayton suffered flood damage due to heavy rain while I was watching aerobatics.  The rain made the parking lot a muddy messy rough road.  The grass underneath the parked cars were dry.  Other than that, the mud was so wet and nearly un-passable.  I drove the shortest distance from my position to the nearest exit, tried to accelerate on the dry grass patches and not to stop over the mud.  Luckily my car made it.  But, I saw dozens of cars stuck in the mud.

Day 2.  The forecast was predicting a much better condition.  I expected most of the people who gave up day 1 would come.  We left the hotel early as usual years.  However, the general-admission parking was closed.  Nobody was guiding cars.  There was a sign showing the direction to the parking.  I followed the signs, but the signs disappeared after driving a mile or so.

I just continued on.  An unlucky bird struck on my windshield.  I hope the bird was ok, but probably died.

I stopped the car, checked the air-show web site on my iPhone, and found that all cars must go to old Emery Freight Building.  Where was it?  In fact, I already drove past the place.  Absolutely nothing indicating that place was for general admission.  People were there, but nobody was directing cars into the parking lot.  I thought they were vendors or some other air-show officials.  I wish they had posted a big sign saying "GENERAL ADMISSION PARKING." Isn't it the first thing they were supposed to do?  Had the sign be posted, I wouldn't have driven passed and didn't have to kill a poor bird.

A-4 Skyhawk is a beautiful airplane.  I wish I could see them flying.

This one flew all the way from Beaver County airport where I often fly a Cessna from.

I like this Jet Waco.  This one has a jet engine under the fuselage (so, it must require a multi-engine rating to fly, I suppose) and shows off an impossible climb and vertical maneuvers.

Of course it is nice to see Sean D. Tucker's Oracle Challenger in front of the blue sky.

The Breitling team flew in a much better condition than the day before.  By the way, I was able to find their radio frequency, but they were talking in French, and I could get nothing.

I tried to capture a water vapor around the airplane during F-18's high-speed pass, but it didn't make a big ball of vapor.

Thunderbirds omitted some vertical maneuvers, but it was very nice.  By the way, they changed the radio frequency.  I remember that they were always using a VHF frequency, but this time they were using a UHF frequency, which was not in my list.  I caught it by searching while the solo airplane was making an announcement before take off.

By the way, Thunderbirds do three sneak-passes in total!  It used to be just one after trail-to-diamond roll.  But, I didn't know they also do it after Echelon pass (from the left), and four-point roll (from the right). 

It means that there are three chances.  It is quite a challenge to capture the airplane in the middle with good zoom during the sneak pass.  It is a very high-speed pass.  However, the distance from the spectator area to the airplane is relatively close, and the photo will not be affected by the haze.


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