June 05, 2022

Miramar 2016

In 2016, I got to go to the Miramar Airshow, held at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, near San Diego. It's the largest military airshow in the US, with the cream of the Marine Corps on display, along with contributions from the other services.

Planes waiting for the display as I drove in

As impressive as the air displays are, probably the best thing about Miramar is the stuff on display behind the flight line. About three of everything the Marine Corps and Navy have is laid out for people to look at and go inside. The sheer scale of the show area and the number of things to look at (not just planes, either) keeps the lines manageable, at least so long as you're not terribly picky.

The Air Force's contribution

A C-2 Greyhound on display

Inside the cockpit...

and the back.

There was some older stuff on display, like this long-retired A-6 Intruder

And newer things, like this F-35B

Helicopters, like the MH-60R

And the CH-53, which you could enter

And even sit in the cockpit of

Plus various ground vehicles, like this EOD MRAP

There's also plenty of stuff I didn't get photos of, most notably a diver in an above-ground tank playing tic-tac-toe with visitors. The flight line was huge, and I only saw maybe a third of it before the really impressive airshow bits started and I turned back for the stands. Unfortunately, at this point the pictures get much worse because I only had a cell phone and that's not very good for taking pictures of high-flying airplanes. Also, I didn't take photos of several things, including the legendary Sean D Tucker and an AV-8B Harrier VTOL demo.

But the highlight of the air display was the MAGTF (Marine Air-Ground Task Force) segment, where the Marines brought out all of their toys and played with them in front of us, accompanied by pyro and commentary.

Fixed-wing planes started the show, with a KC-130, Harriers...

and Hornets.

Then came helicopters, like this UH-1Y with Marines dangling under it...

V-22 Ospreys landing troops...

and a CH-53E with a HMMWV slung underneath.

But this wasn't enough, so they ended it by sending their vehicles charging down the runway...

and having all of the planes fly over in formation.

To cap it all off, the tanks returned right next to the crowd.

This was followed by an F-35B demo.

In a hover, it sounded louder than a Harrier (which is already very loud) although that may have been how close I was.

Next up was the Breitling Jet Team, the world's only privately-owned jet display team.

They put on a good show with their L-39 Albatros jets

Although it lacked the raw power of the fighters that the Blue Angles and Thunderbirds use.

And lastly, we got to see the Blue Angels.

Who did their usual brilliant, and difficult-to-photograph, display.

I went back in 2022, with the Fatherly One and several readers. Pictures can be found here.


  1. June 05, 2022Philistine said...

    One quibble: I don't think "most" air display teams operate fighters, though they may have done so at one time. We're spoiled in the US, with both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels flying high-end combat jets, but the vast majority of air forces outside the US put their air display teams in trainer aircraft (various marks of BAe Hawk are very common), or even purpose-built aerobatic aircraft. See:


  2. June 06, 2022Alexander said...

    Bring lots of war > bring lots of water?

    What is the device in front of the Abrams commander with the black cap on the end? Some sort of optic/weapon? Or a folded down sensor mast?

  3. June 06, 2022Emilio said...

    Yep, along with the Red Arrows using the Hawk also the Frecce Tricolori use the MB-339 Trainer, even if they are moving to the M-345.

    The French also have some kind of air display team with some kind of trainer aircraft, I think...


  4. June 06, 2022Emilio said...

    Oh, by the way, next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force*, the Museum in Vigna Di Valle will reopen after a large renovation, and there will be a HUGE air show, probably in Pratica di Mare.

    I have already saw those for the 50th and 75th anniversaries, and there were six or eight air display teams

    *Four years after the RAF, 24 years before the USAF.

  5. June 06, 2022bean said...

    I knew that a lot of European display teams used trainers, but assumed for some reason that the L-39 was lower powered than a typical modern trainer. This isn't the case, and I will edit that at some point.

  6. June 07, 2022Emilio said...

    Well, the Frecce could choose between the M-345 and M-346, where the latter is more powerful, but went for the M-345, for their own reasons.

    BTW, before they moved to the M-339 they used the G-91, which was a fighter-bomber, winner of the NBMR-1 competition.

  7. June 08, 2022John Schilling said...

    The "Ukrainian Falcons" flew MiG-29s until they were disbanded in 2002. At least one of their old planes seems to have been pulled out of storage and put back in service, still in its airshow livery:

    https://twitter.com/Osinttechnical/status/1534365963352780802?cxt=HHwWhMC9kdvtlMsqAAAA https://www.airrecognition.com/index.php/news/defense-aviation-news/2022-news-aviation-aerospace/june/8427-ukrainian-air-force-sending-mig-29-of-its-defunct-falcons-aerobatic-team-into-combat.html

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