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05/20/2016 Latrobe Air Show (Practice Session Only)

Latrobe Air Show was held 5/21 and 5/22 this year.  Actually, I was not aware of this air show when I was planning a trip to Japan.  When I knew about it, it was too late.  I already booked an airline ticket to fly back to Japan on 5/22.  Still I could see the practice sessions and the Saturday show.

It is a nice small air show, but if you visit, here is a warning.  Leave very very early.  There is one single intersection that everyone needs to go through to get to the parking.  Cars from the three directions converge to the intersection.  From my experience in the Latrobe air show in 2014, nobody was directing the traffic.  There was a massive congestion, which will take hours to get through.  There was even no sign to tell if I should stay on the right lane or left lane.  Some people just passed the line by going through the left lane.  If 10 cars passes while one car get through the intersection, cars on the right lane takes 10 times longer time to get to the intersection.  I thought I should stay on the right lane so that local traffic, especially emergency vehicle could pass through the left lane.  But, it was a bad planning of the air show organizer.  They should have posted some kind of sign.  Better kept someone to direct the traffic.

The best solution is to get there real early before the cars form a line.  I'll do so next time.

Also from my experience in 2014 show, the air-show organizer made another serious mistake.  They kept one food court near the show-center.  And, they put tables and chairs around the food court and covered by the tent.  The other food stands were just snacks, lemonades and soda.  I don't know if some vendors wanted to monopolize all the spectators, but that was a bad idea.  Massive line formed leading the food court around noon.  And while waiting in line, you see nothing in the air.  Big tent was blocking the view.  What kind of show is that?  I just gave up lunch then.  I hope they learned from the experience, but I don't know if it was better last year and this year.  (Because I couldn't go to the show after all.)

But, I think this air show does not prohibit taking food and water.  The solution would be just carry your sandwiches and water bottles.

The biggest attractions this year were Canadian Air Force Snowbirds and F-22 Raptor Demo Team.  But, I didn't know about this air show until too late.  I already purchased an airline ticket to fly back to Japan on the very weekend of the Latrobe Air Show.  Nonetheless, my flight was going to be Sunday.  I had chance to see practice flights on Friday and the Saturday show.  That was plan, and I even purchased a pre-sale ticket, but I didn't go on Saturday after all.  The forecast for Saturday and Sunday was dreadful.  Predicting heavy rain.  I couldn't drain myself before hopping on an international flight.  I just gave up.

F-22 Taking off for a aerobatic practice.

If you want to know when the air show practice is going to be, you can check NOTAMs.  (Actually, I recently realized even for the NAS Pensacola, they issue NOTAMs for Blue Angels pratcices over the base.)  According to the NOTAM for Latrobe, KLBE, the airport was going to be closed for air-show practice on Friday afternoon.  Nothing was issued for Thursday.  So, I didn't go on Thursday.  I only went there on Friday, but it turned out they flew on Thursday as well.  I should have been there Thursday and Friday.  If they do it again next year, I'll get two days off and go Thr and Fri.

I drove to the airport on Friday around noon.  What I wondered was if I should stay near the terminal or at the nearby shopping center.  The terminal parking is a bit away from the show center, but nonetheless it gives a very good view.  On the other hand, it was a rare opportunity for someone living in Pittsburgh to photograph a landing of F-22 and Snowbirds.  The nearby shopping center would give the best angle for the landing runway 23.  But, the wind was almost perpendicular to the runway, I could not predict which of runway 5 or runway 23 F-22 and Snowbirds was going to use.

I decided to stay near the terminal.  As I tried to drive in, the person at the entrance turned me back saying noone other than airline passengers are allowed in the parking lot.  It makes sense.  An airshow-practice spectators shouldn't occupy parking space for airline passengers.  I parked my car on the grass out of the parking lot, and walked 10 minutes or so to come to near the terminal.

There were like 5 to 10 people there expecting to see a spectacular air-show practice.  Soon F-22 started the engine.  And then cops came.  They told us to move out of the parking lot.  I explained him I parked outside and was standing on the grass and was not bothering anyone.  But, they just said everyone move out.

If you want to make a successful air show, one thing to remember is do not kick people out.  I was not there to save money for the air-show ticket.  I just loved to watch airplanes flying an aerobatic maneuvers.  There was absolutely no reason those airplane lovers had to leave, unless they are blocking parking spaces for passengers.  One person who was also kicked out of the parking lot was saying, he was coming to Latrobe to see the practice sessions and real air shows many years, whenever year they had an air show, and it was the first time he was kicked out.

I want to have a more friendly air show.  Latrobe is not.

F-22 flying an aerobatic.

F-22 taxied out for runway 23.  I tried to run back to my car and drive to the shopping center to see it landing, but it was too late.  Cops came exactly the worst timing.  I was standing in the middle between where I was trying to stay and where I parked my car.  Only I could do was watching it performing aerobatic flights from a not-so-ideal distance.

F-22 landed on runway 23.  I wish I were at the shopping center.  Well, but I could get a picture of F-22 behind the line of Snowbirds, which is a rare chance.  Maybe I should be just happy.

Then it was the Snowbirds' turn. 

Many times there is a rumor of disbanding Snowbirds.  I wish they don't.  They don't show off power like Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, but they more focus on precision and variety of the patterns.  I love watching them. 

Later F-18 took to the sky, but for some reason, F-18 demo team always takes off from left to right.  It was too far away from my location.  Then, F-22 took off again once again for practicing a heritage flight with P-51.  P-51 seemed to have some issues with the radio.  It took a while for them to join up.  And, it landed on runway 23.  The sky was getting a little bit cloudy.  I missed the landing photo with the blue sky as background, but it was good.

On Saturday, the weather was exactly as forecasted.  I looked at the FaceBook page of Latrobe Air Show, but apparently nothing flew.

I left Pittsburgh and flew back to Japan next day.  My next air show of this season was at Japan Air Self Defense Force base Miho.

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