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The Fly Bys
The T-38
Length: 46 feet, 4 inches
Height: 12 feet, 10 inches
Wingspan: 25 feet, 3 inches
Speed: 812 mph
Ceiling: Above 55,000 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 12,093 pounds
Range: 1,093 miles
Armament: T-38A: none; AT-38B: provisions for practice bomb dispenser

    The first flyby was a pair of T-38 Talon trainers. This is the United States supersonic trainer, and is the military student pilots first exposure to high performance military jet aircraft. This is an old design, dating back to 1959. The F-5, a slightly different version of the same airframe, was used in the Viet Nam War as a ground support aircraft. The F-5 was known as The Freedom Fighter, or as the Tiger. It had fire control systems, more powerful engines, giving it a somewhat higher top speed, and hard points for mounting weapons.

    This is  Sikorsky CH-53, affectionately known to a several generations of soldiers as the Jolly Green Giant. These were mainly used as search and rescue helicopters, though they were often armed for defensive purposes. To a downed airman in the jungles of Viet Nam, there was no more welcome sight than that of this helicopter coming in for a pick up. These were also used for evacuation, and as transports for wounded soldiers. In addition, this powerful machine was used to transport boats, building materials, artillery pieces, and to transport any other items which were beyond the limits of the more common Huey helicopters.

The Sikorsky CH-53
Maximum speed 170 knots
Rate of climb 762m/min
Service ceiling 5,640m
Range  1,120nm
Length: overall 30.19m
fuselage length 22.35m
Width of fuselage 2.69m
Height: 5.32m
Overall Height, 8.97m
Empty weight: 33,226 pounds
Maximum gross weight: 73,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15,483 pounds (2,277 gallons/JP-5)

                                               I have included several different views of the Sikorsky here, as it flew by for a photo pass. The huge eight bladed rotor spins very slowly, and is easily frozen by the camera shutter. The machine seems to growl as it approaches.

                                               This long range, and very capable helicopter is equipped with a forward mounted boom, for in air refueling.

The C-130 is one of the longest lived, most versatile, and durable cargo aircraft in the world. This particular example is a local aircraft, based with the Wisconsin Air Guard at Mitchell field.. Variants of this design include the KC-130 tanker, and a gunship version with a 105mm canon, and a bank of six barreled mini guns.

The old "BUFF" (Big Ugly Fat Fellow), banks to circle the crowd, and to allow us all ample opportunity to take photographs.

Length 97 feet,
Height 38 feet, 3 inches
Wingspan 132 feet, 7 inches
Speed 374 mph (Mach 0.57).  Ceiling 33,000 feet 
Maximum Takeoff Weight 155,000 pounds
Operating Weight: 83,000 Pounds
Maximum Useable Fuel: 60,000 Pounds
Maximum Allowable Cabin Load: 36,000 Pounds
Range 2,356 miles with maximum payload;
2,500 miles with 25,000 pounds
5,200 miles with no cargo. 

Spooky (AC-47)
This old, slow radial engined piston plane was one of the most feared weapons of the Viet Nam War. This is the Spooky gunship, also known as Puff the Magic Dragon.  The Viet Cong knew it as " muttering death.", in reference to the fact that when it fired it's guns, it sounded as if the plane were whispering or talking. Any one who knows aircraft will immediately recognize the silhouette of the  classic C-47, better known as the DC-3.  This particular version of the thirties vintage airliner has a bank of six barreled miniguns. Each gun is capable of firing 6000 rounds per minute, 100 rounds per second. After a pass from one of these planes, the jungle looked like it had been cleared and plowed.

The lower photo shows the left hand side of the aircraft, which is the working side. The plane operated by banking into a long slow  left hand turn. The bank angle would bring the guns to bear on  the ground. The turn would continue, with the guns firing, and the plane circling the target area, until  ammunition ran out, or the fire mission was halted.

At the end of a mission, crew members would clear out the empty cases with shovels. The Puff carried 21,000 rounds of ammunition, and fired from three 7.62mm mini-guns, two of which are visible poking their muzzles out the window in this photo.
 A total of 53 aircraft were so modified, as an expedient for the war. These aircraft filled the role for which the A-10 Warthog was latter designed.

Maximum speed: 232 mph.
Cruising speed: 175 mph.
Attack speed: 120 knots
Combat duration: 7 hours maximum.
Service Ceiling: 24,450 ft.

Span: 95 ft. 0 in.
Length: 64 ft. 5 in.
Height: 16 ft. 11 in.
Weight: 33,000 lbs. loaded

S-3 Viking
   A pair of Navy S-3 aircraft fly low over the water. These planes are used as submarine hunters. The aircraft work by dropping submarine detectors called sonobuoys, to locate hostile subs. Once the submarine is found, the planes have the option of attacking with torpedoes, missiles, or depth charges. In contrast to shipborne submarine hunters, these aircraft are able to cover long distances and are virtually immune to submarine counter attack.
Length 53 feet 4 inches
Wingspan 68 feet 8 inches
Height 22 feet 9 inches
Weight Max design gross take-off: 52,539 pounds
Speed 450 knots
Ceiling 40,000 feet 
Range 2,300+ nautical miles
Armament Up to 3,958 pounds

A-10 Warthog

    This is the world's premier tank buster, the A-10 Warthog. The warthog is the Air force version of the story of the ugly step child who made good. This aircraft was initially designed in response to a set of requirements drawn up for the Viet Nam war. During that conflict, it was discovered that there was a real need for a traditional close air support aircraft, to assist the ground troops in the jungles, cities, and roadways of that country. A variety of jets and helicopters had been used, and they had proven somewhat capable, but less than ideal for this role. What was needed was a tough, maneuverable aircraft, which could remain over the battle area for an extended period of time, and be capable of delivering a large amount of ordnance.
    The Warthog was ideal for it's intended purpose, but  unfortunately did not go into production until after the war's end. It was thus a plane without a mission. Eventually, a number of these planes were deployed to Europe, for use a tank killers, against the huge Soviet tank forces deployed in that area. Fortunately for humanity, the long anticipated war between Soviet and NATO forces never occurred, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the A-10 once again found itself an orphan.
    The Air Force made several attempts to retire the plane, but there always seemed to be just one more mission which only the A-10 seemed able to perform properly. In the years since the initial deployment of the A-10 in 1975, there have been a number of small conflicts, requiring the special gifts of the A-10, while the huge strategic bombing raids, and massive air superiority battles for which the Air Force planned and equipped never seemed to happen.
    The real proof of the concept, and of the excellence of the A-10, did not occur until the Gulf wars. Massive tank armies were assembled for these wars, and the open desert made these wars of maneuver. The A-10, was transformed into what was in essence a flying tank. Against this potent weapon, the opposing tank forces had no chance. In the first Gulf War over half of the tanks destroyed, were destroyed by an A-10 presence which numbered only 174 aircraft. Though it's top speed of 420 mph makes it a bit slow by today's standards, there are two confirmed air to air kills for this aircraft in the most recent Gulf War.
    It was need that brought the A-10 to the forefront of the war, and raised it to it's well deserved place in the U.S. arsenal. The Air Force had previously not held this particular aircraft, nor the mission it was destined to fill, in very high esteem. The U.S. Air Force sees itself primarily as a tool of air superiority, and strategic bombing. Close air support of ground troops has traditionally been relegated to the Army, or has been done only with the greatest reluctance, by the Air Force. The main reason for the development of the A-10, was that the Army, tired of lackluster ground support from the Air force, attempted to field it's own close air support air unit. Even so, no one in the upper echelons of the Air force wanted anything to do with this project, and there was little ,enthusiasm and little involvement in the development of the airframe. This probably explains the excellence of the design. For years, transfer to an A-10 squadron was seen as a career breaker, with the much more glamorous, fighter and bomber assignments being the sought after postings.
    This thirty year old design can carry a massive amount, as well as a massive variety of ordnance. It is likely that the A-10 will be flying for another thirty years at least, and long after many of today's other front line aircraft have been retired.

    This is the F-16, one of the slipperiest, and most unstable fighter aircraft in the world. This plane was designed to be a the limit of instability. What this means is that the plane is at all times unstable, and about to go out of control. No human could fly this plane, no reflexes are fast enough, and it is controlled by a number of computers, and sensing systems which are collectively called the Fly By Wire system.

Length 49 feet, 5 inches
Height 16 feet
Wingspan 32 feet, 8 inches
Speed 1,500 mph
Ceiling Above 50,000 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight 37,500 pounds
 Range Over 2,100 nm
Armament One M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon with 500 rounds; external stations can carry up to six air-to-air missiles, conventional air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods.

A look up the "pipe".

The Heritage Flight

This is the heritage flight, which is something that the Air force likes to do at air shows. It was first done at a 1997 air show to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Air Force as a separate service. In this particular flight, we have a P-51 Mustang, along side of an A-10, and an F-16.

A side view of three of the best war planes of their day. Note how small the World War Two vintage P-51 Mustang appears along side of the F-16, and A-10.
The three approach. Taps was played over the speaker system as the three planes slowly  circled the crowd.

Three of the best combat aircraft of their day pass directly overhead., giving us all a good look at their now empty weapons bays and hard points. The Mustang was by far, the best plane of it's day, with the possible exception of the old P-38. The A-10 is today's best ground attack aircraft

At the end of the run, the three aircraft , separate each going it's own way.

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