Fat Albert at Miramar MCAS 2009

Photo Gallery

One of the biggest news concerning the Blue Angels' C-130 Fat Albert demonstration has to do with the ever popular Jet Assisted Take Off, or JATO. Turns out this is the last season that they will be doing JATO demonstrations! I had noticed the cutback, as JATO demos were becoming more and more scarce. In fact, I haven't seen one in a very long time - even at the bigger shows. The official story is that JATO bottles are no longer being manufactured, and that they are using up the last of the stock. I think budget cuts have something to do with it as well, but it's just a guess.

So naturally, I was very excited to be able to catch not 1, but 2 JATO takeoff demonstrations at Miramar! So forgive me if there seems to be an over abundance of Fat Albert take off sequences. This is the last we'll be seeing of it!!
- Bernard Zee

Saturday's Afternoon Show

Here's Fat Albert doing a normal take off for the Saturday afternoon show. Gear is retracted, but he's staying close to the ground.

Here, he flashes by show center, where the Blues Narrator LT Ben Walborn is standing.

He then pulls up in a fairly aggressive (for a C-130) climb angle.

One of the closer, and more photogenic passes. You can see a guy in the glass bubble - probably taking pictues of the crowd!

Interesting shadows as he banks away from the sun.

Man, Ben can say that longer than I can hold my breath. MUCH longer!

Saturday's Twilight Show

OK, so it's pretty dark come time for Fat Albert's take off. Barely enough light to make out the plane in the picture. Still, the spiral vapors formed by the tips of the propellers can be seen as Fat Albert takes off. Probably should have gone into the Grand Stands, as there was a lot of 'stuff' blocking the view from where I was at.

Here, he just hit the JATO rocket ignition.

With all 8 rockets going full blast!

More vapor spirals can be seen. Wishing I had that monster F2.8 lens about now! :-)

Levels off, but the rockets are still going. Couldn't really photograph the rest of the show. Too Dark! Fat Albert did its normal routine, but we could barely make it out in the gathering darkness. Half an hour earlier would have been nice!

Sunday's Show

We get to see the JATO demo again, but this time in daylight! A little different than the night routine, the rockets are lit well before rotation.

This results in takeoff speed achieved much earlier.

Clawing for altitude with the rockets helping.

The definitive JATO shot!

Aww... no more wockets.

BZ Miramar 2009 Gallery Index