Having attended airshows in the UK and Europe I finally grabbed the opportunity to attend an American show as I was visiting the USA at the right time!
USMC Miramar has a hell of a reputation, being the former home of Topgun and featuring in the film of the same name, a chance to go to San Diego could not be passed by. I was warned that conditions for photography would be difficult as you face directly into the sun. What I didnt expect to find was weather conditions that rivalled the best (worst) that RIAT normally throws at us!
I’d arrived in San Diego in glorious sunshine, after picking up the hire car I quickly made my way to Coronado beach, in case there was any activity at NAS North Island and more to see the famous hotel as used in one of my all time favourite films, Some Like it Hot!
So waking on Saturday morning to hearing the rain absolutely tipping it down filled me with dread, but hey I’m British, it rains, I could cope! Being a newbie at an American Show I applied British rules and turned up early. The USMC guards, although polite, made it clear that I want welcome yet and should disappear, so off to sulk in a car park for 55 minutes.
Having finally gained entry after 8am I was easily able to follow traffic and park the rental car up near some parked CH-53’s – A good visual reference as to where I had left the car. I’d put Miramar on a same scale as Waddington, so the walk from the car park (on the base) through security was relatively short.
I will pre warn anyone attending an American show for the first time, look at the rules. It clearly stated that to carry your “stuff” in you would need a clear bag. I saw several groups being turned away, with cool boxes and rucksacks. Getting through on Saturday was easy, a quick check of the passport and “You’re good to go…”
So, overcast, damp conditions would have normally meant lots of atmospherics, however the display was exceedingly bereft of “Heavy Metal” action. On the Saturday the USMC only flew the F-35 in the ground attack role demo. This together with the F16 Viper display team, who thankfully didnt break the plane this time, was the only single fast jet action. Yes we had the Arrows and the Blue Angels but it was disappointing to not have the F-22 team present or any F/A 18’s fly in those conditions as they had done on the previous day’s show (which I had to miss).
Sunday, conditions were far nicer, though the sun was out and directly in front of us. Still had to have my passport checked and answer a number of questions, finally I was good to go! Being a Novice I camped in the bleachers again (Grandstand for us Brits) when I really should have stayed mobile and lower down. However a great display by Marine F/A18’s together demonstrating Marine power.
The Red Arrows put on another fantastic display. Red 10 was slightly more exhuberent thatn when he speaks to UK audiences! Only an 8 ship again as Red 2 had just about made it back to the UK to see the birth of his baby! Must admit, I had a bit of a tear in my eye as they did their full thing, flying the flag and doing Britain Proud.
The Blue Angels finished off the show, smoke, precision ground manoeuvres and mad wingtip flying in a supersonic jet. Fan-bloody-tastic!
Overall, an extremely enjoyable couple of days at the base, difficult to take decent photographs, yes, but a great show. Oh and what is it with Yanks and bloody jet powered Fire Trucks (with Rolls Royce Engines!)?