NAS JAX Review
As I write I'm on an airliner headed home from the 2014 NAS JAX Air Show and I'm continuing to have the feeling that I first felt at the end of the Saturday's Blue Angels' performance. That feeling being that this was my favorite show of the year!
First of all, the lineup was an air show enthusiast's dream: The Blue Angels, Sean D. Tucker, Melissa Pemberton, John Klatt, Kyle Franklin, Skip Stewart, Patty Wagstaff, Gene Soucy (Showcat solo and wing-walking with Teresa Stokes), Matt Chapman, Paul Stender (multiple jet vehicles), F-22 Raptor, Heritage Flight with Lee Lauderback's TF-51, "Crazy Horse." Also appearing were the P-8 Poseidon (& P-3 Orion multiple passes on Friday), Rick Myers and the Firewalkers Pyro Team, The Immortals (Skip, Kyle, Melissa, Paul, and Pyro), Dan McCue in the Collings Foundation's Corsair, Dave Dollarhide flying the A-4C Skyhawk II, and last but not least, 2013 Scholl Award winner, Otto the Helicopter. The number of awards won by performers in this list is staggering - SIX ICAS Sword of Excellence recipients alone!
The weather was absolutely gorgeous; Sunday was the warmest day at 80 degrees and Saturday and Sunday were severe clear.
The new Boeing P-8 Poseidon performed a multiple pass demo with live-from-the-cockpit narration. On Friday it did its passes with a P-3 Orion.
The Met Life blimp, "Snoopy," in town for Sunday's Jaguars game, came to the field and "raced" Paul Stender in a Snoopy suit on his jet-powered doghouse.
Captain Dave Dollarhide flying the A-4C Skyhawk II and Dan McCue in the F-4U Corsair did their unofficial Navy Legacy Flight. It's not a first for that sort of thing but it was the first time that Dave had flown a Navy jet at JAX since 1973 when he flew Skyhawks here. He was totally jazzed about that.
Fat Albert performed a high-speed taxi in order to start engine #1. The starter had broken and the replacement they got had one part that didn't fit so they did the NATOPS approved procedure of a 50-knot high speed taxi to windmill start the engine. It worked both days!
Crowds were huge. I spoke with John Klatt after Saturday's show and asked him, based on his view from the airplane, how big the crowd was. He replied that it was a "no BS" 75,000 people. I posted that on Facebook.
It’s now Tuesday and after speaking with show officials that’s probably a very low number. Here’s what I learned: Adding up the totals from the metal detectors through which spectators passed, the thousands who decided to watch the show from the parking lot and the hundreds of boats on both days, the final crowd estimate given to me for all three days was 197,000! That’s terrific!
Traffic on the bridge just south of the base was stopped and on Saturday it took former Team Oracle Operations Manager and Narrator, Brian Norris, 3 hours to move about a mile.
It was great to have some current military static aircraft there. The Florida Air Guard's 125th FW had an F-15C Eagle. Also present was a C-17 from Charleston. There were a number of other privately owned statics from an S-2 Tracker to a BT-15 (...yes, a -15! - with a Wright engine instead of the P&W) and many more civilian and warbird planes.