Skyfest Michiana 17-18 August
Contrary to my three previous trips to the US, this one was centred round airshows. Thus it was that the weekend of 17-18 August found me wondering up and down the aircraft line-up of Skyfest Michiana 2002 at South Bend Airport, Indiana.
It was a good mix of old and new. The latter included displays by the B-1B Lancer, F-117 Stealth, A-10 Warthog and F-16 Fighting Falcon (the latter in formation with a P-51 as part of the US Air Force Heritage Flight).
On the display line was a US AF T-43 (military version of B.737), T-1A navigational trainer, a Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53Es, and a pair of A-10s. Also present were three helicopters from the Canadian Armed Forces, a CH-146 and two Bell 206s, the latter sporting both civil and military markings. The reason for this being that although training has been passed on to a civilian company, they didn’t bother to remove the military serials. Also from the Canadian Armed Forces was a Beech Super King Air.
The “old” included a P-51 NL2151D, B-25 N5548N, M.A.T.S. L. 749A Constellation N494TW, C-47D (N8704) and B-17 (N3193G) from the Yankee Air Force’s Museum based at Willow Run, Michigan, Grumman OV-1(N10VD), Grumman C-1A (N189G) SNJ-5, or Harvard, a T-33 (NX556RH) and NA F-86 (NX188RI). All of these aircraft put on a flying display. For the more technically minded, the MATS Constellation also carried a “cut-away” engine (parts from the external engine carefully cut out to reveal the interior) together with a chart explaining the various engine components and fuel flow.
Other displays were by a “Super Chipmunk”, a highly modified DHC-1, a Pitts S-2B, and helicopter rides by an Enstrom and a Bell 47 (which I saw being towed down the freeway).
“That scared my heart!”
Pyrotechnics would appear to be a staple part of US air shows, and these were put to good effect, a mix of dynamite and petrol shooting walls of flame into the sky as the B-17, B-25, Grumman C-1A and OV-1 passed overhead. (It also led to a young boy smilingly telling his mother “That scared my heart!”)
Other aircraft included a pair of Vultee BT-13s (one of which had the side panels removed to show how the controls ran), Canadian AF Beech 90, P. Navajion, a US Navy Beech T-34 and an all-white Aero L39 with US AF titles. It carried civil registration N1239PW and 93-1256/PW as a serial number.
South Bend has three runways, laid out like a Cross-of Lorraine. Runway 36/18 is the vertical “bar”, with runways 09/27 Left and Right forming the horizontal “bars”. The aircraft line-up was along runway 36/18, between the two-09/27 runways.
The display line was over the “upper” 09L/27R runway, with displaying aircraft departing from 09R/27L. Depending on your priorities, you can either photograph aircraft taxiing in and out, or go over to the display line.
Sun Position. When facing the display runway (towards the 36 threshold), the sun is well behind you to your right. It doesn’t come abeam to your left until around 18.15, which isn’t a problem, as the show ends by 17.00 local time.