Travis Air Expo 2011

Photo Gallery

Every 3 years or so, Travis Air Force Base puts on a nice Open House/Air Show. Located in Fairfield, CA (a little over an hour from San Francisco), Travis AFB is home to the 60th Air Mobility Wing. Known as the 'Gateway to the Pacific', Travis AFB has so much cargo and passenger traffic that it is ranked as the busiest military air terminal in the U.S.

The main attraction at this year's show were the Thunderbirds in their F-16s. Though they had a nice range of military aircraft on static display, the only other military planes that flew at the show were the local C-5, C-17, and KC-10, plus a visiting C-130 and B-2 bomber which made a couple of passes. The C-130 carried the parachute team, but the winds were too high, and that portion of the demonstration was cancelled.

Being the main logistical hub for the U.S. Air Force, my main focus for pictures at Travis concentrated on the heavies. Maybe not as glam as fighters, the transports and refuelers are every bit as important in winning wars. As the old saying goes - 'Amateurs talk tactics, but professionals talk logistics'!
- Bernard Zee

Accompanying me for the Saturday show were my wife and younger daughter. After making our way through security, and securing a spot on the fenceline, my daughter and I wandered over to check out some of the static displays.

We were in for a nice treat as the E-3B Sentry (AWACS) was open for tours!

It's not very common that the public gets to see the inside of the Air Force's premiere Air Traffic Controller in the sky. Most show attendees seem to know this too, as the line to get in got long fast!

Here, the cockpit area seems a little crowded. As the seats were already taken, we didn't linger much.

Inside were rows and rows of workstations where operators work with radar displays and communication equipment. The AWACS provides the Air Force with much needed situational awareness of the air space, directing friendly aircraft and alerting them to enemy threats.

Not to be mistaken for the entry way, the exit is at the back of the aircraft with no one in line. My daughter was a good sport, and cheerfully posed for me repeatedly :-)

The most distinguishing characteristic of the E-3 is the huge 30ft diameter rotating radar dome.

The E-3 is based on Boeing's commercial 707, which is no longer in production. The last E-3 rolled off the assembly line in 1992 after 68 were built.

There have been sensor upgrades to the E-3 over the years, and there are no current plans (or budget) to replace them.

Early in the morning, a trio of Travis planes took off without fanfare. First out was the KC-10 Extender (followed by the C-17 and C-5).

Then the C-5 Galaxy. These planes came back later to perform a couple of passes. I presume they stayed in some kind of holding pattern for the next few hours!

Another cool plane we visited was the KC-10 Extender. The KC-10 was from the 452 Air Mobility Wing based in March AFB (close to L.A.).

This is a shot of the tankers' tail boom. Those little wings on the boom allow the boom operator to position the boom to hook up to the other planes' recepticle.

Here's a not-too-cluttered cockpit of the KC-10.

Being relatively early at the show, there wasn't yet a huge line for some things. We were very lucky to be able to check out the boom operator position at the back of the plane.

Lying on the stomach, looking out the back of the plane, the boom operator 'flies' the refueling boom into the receiving aircraft's receptacle.

The inside of the KC-10 is surprisingly empty and spacious.

Back outside, a C-130 takes off with the Wings of Blue Parachute Demonstration Team on board. The jumps were later scrubbed due to high winds though.

This C-17 Globemaster III is named the 'Spirit of Fairfield'. A nice tribute to the town that hosts Travis AFB.

The C-17 is the newest large transport operated by the U.S. Air Force. Though it's not as big as the C-5, it can operate from shorter runways and is more versatile.

Being inside the huge airplane was a welcomed reprive from the blowing winds outside. But by this time, there was a huge line to visit the cockpit, so we gave it a pass.

The C-17 also differs from the C-5 in that cargo is loaded and unloaded via the rear ramp only.

In contrast the C-5 Galaxy can open up both ends and roll cargo on and off like some super freeway.

The C-5 holds the distinction of being the largest plane the U.S. has ever operated.

Its size and cargo hauling capabilities are legendary. The announcer even said the inside of the plane could house 8 bowling lanes!

Here's a view of the cockpit from the outside with the nose raised.

Really reminds me of a herring openning its mouth wide to feed!

Landing gear needs to be plenty beefy to absorb up to 840,000 lbs slamming down during landings.

The plane is in low-rider mode, to allow easier loading and unloading.

Posing with the C-5 engine.

The show would have started with a parachute drop along with the National Anthem, but high winds scrubbed that. Here's Patty Wagstaff openning it up in her Extra 300.

Patty pulling up sharpy after a low pass over the runway.

Next up was Eddie Andreini in his Super Stearman. Compared to a regular Stearman, the Super Stearman has a more powerful engine and an enclosed cockpit.

I like the way the light sparkles like gold off the wings in this shot.

Here's Eddie cutting the ribbon 20 ft off the ground while inverted!

Back on the ground, Eddie taxiis past the crowd in his biplane.

A favorite of mine, and one I can never seem to get enough of, is Bill Braack in his Smoke and Thunder jetcar!

That's an afterburning Westinghouse J34-48 engine generating 10,000 horsepower!

Here's a tail view of the flaming afterburner!

That jet engine was originally used in a North American Buckeye T-2A.

The jetcar is a real slender affair, and looks like it's mostly Bill strapped directly in front of the the engine, with some wheels attached!

A really cool effect, Bill sends up a huge plume of smoke, and then lights the afterburner to illuminate it.

At just 2,300lbs, the jetcar has some awesome acceleration!

When the parachute is deployed at over 300mph, it jerks the jetcar's right wheels clear off the ground. That must be some kind of ride!

Wearing some new fangled body armor, Air Force security patrol the grounds with their shotguns and M4s.

Steve Stavrakakis flies the Romanian IAR-823 in the Wild Things airshow.

Not widely known in the U.S., the IAR-823 was used as a trainer in Romania, and could carry up to 5 people plus rockets and bombs on its 2 hardpoints.

Steve actually has this really spectacular night show he flies with the IAR, where he uses a bunch of pyrotechnics and fireworks. No fireworks at the Travis show though.

Here's Bill Braack getting tow.

Evan Wolfe flew this T-28C Trojan, showing a bit more aerobatics than I normally see from that type of plane.

What's surprising is that even though the T-28 was designed as a trainer, it was used in combat as a Counter Insurgency aircraft during the Vietnam War.

The T-28 continued as a trainer in the Navy and Marines until the early 80s.

The 3 Travis heavies are lined up for their passes here.

The KC-10, C-17, and C-5 represent the aircraft flown by the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis.

The KC-10 Extender is an air to air tanker derived from the DC-10 airliner.

Tankers are used all the time as force multipliers, to increase payload, range, and loiter time for combat and transport aircraft. They're essential to the efficiency of the modern air force.

Here's a bottoms' up view of the largest U.S. transport plane - the C-5 Galaxy.

The loop around, and make another pass with the gear down.

Here's the C-17 with the full flaps and gear down making its second pass.

Even in a picture, the C-5 looks gigantic.

The center landing gear needs to pivot 90 degrees before being retracted on the C-5.

A shot of the C-5 on landing approach with the Thunderbird planes in the foreground.

The C-5 has this really unique sound as the engine throttle settings are changed. Quite cool sounding really.

The huge plane slows to a stop after a gentle touchdown.

Able to operate out of much shorter and even on dirt runways, the C-17 provides the Air Forces with lots of flexibility in Logistics and resupply. Even though Travis has some super long concrete runways, I thought this was an interesting shot. All that construction equipment in the background gives the impression that it's landing on an 'improved' runway surface. Ah, the power of the lens to shape reality! :-)

Another trait of the C-17 is that is very quiet. In fact, the only time we really heard it much was when it was applying reverse thrust as in this shot.

Tim Decker in his red and white Pitts S-2B.

Flipping his plane through the sky, I can only imagine how nauseated I would be if I were in there with him!

Flashing thumbs up safely on the ground.

That's Tim Decker!

Kent Pietsch in the 1942 Interstate Cadet.

Kent sucessfully lands his plane on the top of the pickup truck. I suspect he can do it the first time every time, but to build suspense, he only sticks it on the 3rd attempt!

Here's 'Wired' Greg Colyer in his beautiful T-33.

Greg flies a really cool routine, with some great low passes, and some very high speed ones as well.

The T-33 Shooting Star is the 2 seater trainer version of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star. The Shooting Star was designed in 1943 in response to the German ME-262 jet fighers. But the then P-80 was not ready for service before the war ended. The plane however did see extensive combat in Korea with the USAF (redesignated as the F-80).

Greg waving hi and being very mysterious behind his darkened visor.

Eddie Andreini flying a super aerobatic routine in the unusual Yak-9.

The Yak-9 was a single engined fighter used by the Soviets during WWII, and by North Korea in the Korean War.

The Yak-9U had great performance and was a good match against the German's ME-109 and FW-190s.

Another view of the bright red Yak-9U Barbarossa of Eddie Andreini.

Putting up a patriotic show is Julie Clark in her Beechcraft T-34 Mentor.

Here's Julie buzzing the field going fast and low!

There are some daytime fireworks to accompany her show as well.

Julie waving to the crowd with the stars and stripes in one hand.

This while standing on her plane, which is still rolling forward I might add. I have no clue how she's steering it. With her feet maybe?

John Collver in his AT-6 Texan 'War Dog' starts his performance. The AT-6 has this nice round, and loud sound - from the tips of the propeller going supersonic.

The AT-6 was an advanced trainer used during WWII. In flight, it has a certain leisurely grace to it that's relaxing to watch.
Oh Medic, medic! I could use some attention!

John's routine had to be put on hold for a while, as the firetrucks scrambled to put out grass fires from the earlier fireworks display.

These kids have all the good stuff!

Coors and Miller Lite representatives posing for a picture.

The show gets a nice treat from a B-2 flyover.

The bat plane was kind of high though. But still, better than nothing!

Patty Wagstaff was another civilian aerobatic performer at Travis.

Patty flies the Extra 300S, which is a purpose built aerobatic aircraft.

Closer view of the Extra 300S - which has carbon fiber wings, tail, and control services.

Spinning with a nice smoke trail is Kent Pietsch again - this time flying the cadel as a glider.

Using the sky as a canvas, Kent draws pretty designs using smoke from his wingtips.

The Interstate Cadet is actually a pretty decent glider, as Kent so aptly demonstrates.

Eagerly anticipating the main event...

Start of the Thunderbird Air Force demonstration show!

Flying their signature red, white, and blue F-16s - the Thunderbirds are world renowned for their high energy precision flying.

As in most things, the hardest part is waiting. The T-birds have a long run-up before they actually take to the skies. They're closing the canopies in sequence here.

Would love to get on that tower for the show!

Thunderbird 1 giving a thumbs up.

Lead solo pilot in the 5 plane. Note that the #5 label is upside down. Sort of an inside joke since the lead solo spends much of his time flying inverted.

The F-16 is affectionately called the Viper by the pilots. Named surprisingly after the colonial star fighters from Battlestar Galatica. Who knew there would be so many SciFi geeks in the Air Force? :-) Kidding, kidding.

Liked this shot of the planes lined up with the heat wave distortions from their engines.

And, after some large chunks of time, they're off!

4 take off together here.

But the solos take off seperately.

Nice opposing pass. Yeah, I get lucky sometimes.

The back to back calypso pass.

4 ship Diamond loop.

The solos look like a pair of scissors here!

Nice lighting a the diamond makes a pass infront of the audience.

Shot showing the Travis AFB logo on the tower.

When you see this, start looking to the left for...

The SNEAK PASS!! (See a bit of the afterburner against the blue skies.)

Whew! No one does it closer, or louder than the Thunderbirds!!

If I remember properly, there was a problem with the #6 plane (for a while), so here's #5 by himself for the slow pass.

Actually, this shot should be rotated. The jet is spiralling straight up!

Lots of people watching the show!

The solos join the main group to form the 6 ship diamond.

Thunderbirds splitting up with some California windmills as a backdrop.

Belly to belly mirror pass.

All too soon, the last pass of the show.

As the planes split off one by one, they create the necessary spacing for them to land individually.

The #1 plane right before it lands.

The T-bird paint scheme looks really nice on the Viper.

Safely back on the ground, the pilots shake hands with the ground crew.

And thus ends the flying portion of the show.

I missed their show earlier, but these are the Honey Bear Dancers.

Wandering around the grounds waiting for the traffic to thin a bit from the parking lot, I get a chance to take some more static shots. Here's the mighty B-1B Bone.

CHP show car in front of an Air Force helicopter.

F-15 Eagle from the 391st Fighter squadron.

B-1B nose art 'Plowin' Terrorism' from the 37th Bomb Squadron.

Jeep with a nice looking 1919 machine gun. Since this is California, it has to be a replica. boo!

An nice end of the day treat were these group of young singers.

Called the Honeybee trio - they sang quite a few classic (well, from the 30s and 40s anyhow) tunes.

They sounded really great too! Saw them again at the 2012 Chinese New Year parade. Wish them the best of luck!

T-28 Trojan.

Honeybees posing for a shot.

Making my way over to where the pilots were giving out autographs, I get a shot of T-bird #8 Kristin Hubbard.

Maj J.R. Williams is the #6 opposing solo.

Maj Aaron Jelinek is the #5 lead solo.

Capt Nicholas Holmes is the slot pilot.

Maj John Gallemore poses with my daughter. :-)

Capt Ryan Riley cheerfully signing autographs.

LTC Case Cunninham as the commander and leader.

Some B-52 nose art - 'Cherokee Strip II'.

The BUFF is a big plane - tough to get it all in the frame!

They opened up the Bone for cockpit tours, but the line was just insane! So no, didn't get to see the inside.

At least there's shade in line!

Nozzle end of the B-1B engines.

Mechanical indicators on the horizontal stabilizers.

F-15 glamor shot.

Check tags flapping in the breeze.

Gatling cannon on the F-16.

Air Force HH-60.

Close up shot on one of its sensors.

Lots of knobs and switches inside!

Time to go for the CHP Eurocopter AS 350.

Base security starts their sweep to get people off base.

A wider shot of the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Beauty and the Beast.

Always a sucker for the mighty GAU-8 Avenger!

This B-52 is from the 930 Bomb Squadron.

Can't help but admire this beautifully polished B-25 Mitchell!

The B-25 is painted as 'Old Glory'.

Twin Beech might be leaking a bit there.

'Beech Time' has some nice artistic touches! :-O

Fueling up the T-6 'Patches'.

I think that may be the owner openning up his UH-1 to some visitors.

Close up of 'Patches' nose art.

B737-700 C-40B 50730. Designed to be an office in the sky for senior military and government leaders.

These black T-38 talons must be from nearby Beale AFB!

And so is this U-2.

The E-2 Hawkeye is from VAW 117 aboard the USS Nimitz.

It's got the cool cusinart 8 bladed propeller.

Another view of the E-3 prop with some Travis planes in the background.

A USAF C-130 transport.

Some parting shots of the E-3 Sentry.

Still going strong after all these years.

C-17 'Spirit of Fairfield', based of course - at Travis.

Despite my ineffectual protest, I was told to '...make like a tree and get out of here'! Sure, I may be paraphrasing (more like ripping off Biff from Back to the Future) - but it was time to go. Thanks to the Men and Women of Travis AFB for hosting another great show! We had a great time.