Marines host 2018 Miramar Air Show

Photograph by John Battey

The Blue Angels show off the four-ship Diamond 360 formation.

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, were the headline act at the 2018 Miramar Air Show Sept. 28-30. The U.S. Marine Corps’ newest aircraft, the F-35B, was also on hand.

The F-35 is the world’s first 5th generation stealth fighter and is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft performed a demo of its STOVL capabilities and was also on static display during the show.

The demo was performed by VMFA 122 — “The Flying Leathernecks” — stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. It is the third operational squadron in the Marine Corps to fly the F-35B.

The Three-day airshow opened Friday morning with several civilian aerobatic performers, several warbirds including the P-51 Mustang, T-6 Texan, T-28 and an SNJ, and Shockwave — the three-engine Jet Truck making a dash down the runway at over 350 mph. The day also included a performance from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.

The theme of this year’s open house was celebrating 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. The air show, advertised by the Marines as the largest military air show in the United States, proved once again to be an absolutely spectacular event. The show featured the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings MAGTF simulated combat assault, and a rare demonstration by the U.S. Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane from Beale AFB, Calif. The U-2 was flown by Lt. Col. Scott “FONIX” Collins who previously served in the Marine Corps.

The two Blue Angels solos perform a maneuver called the Fortus with their landing gear extended and tailhooks down.

The world-famous U.S. Navy six-plane Blue Angels, celebrating 31 years of flying the F/A-18 Hornet, were the headline act and flew its entertaining performance all three days, much to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of airshow fans in attendance. The team flew a spectacular 45-minute routine showing the raw power and high performance, with 32,000 pounds of thrust,of the F-18.

The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 and have performed all over the world. Their 2018 schedule has them performing at 60 air shows at 32 different show sites.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration is the one portion of the air show that separates the Miramar show from all the others.

The four-element firepower demonstration features a simulated combat assault attack from the air as well as on the ground. The explosive display of Marine Corps capabilities included the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey and fixed-wing aircraft F/A-18 Hornet attack jets, AV8-B Harrier jump jets and a KC-130J Hercules refueling plane. In addition, helicopters flying were the CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and UH-1Y Huey/Venom. The ground elements included several tanks, assault vehicles and ground troops.

The U.S. Army showed off their precision parachute team the “Golden Knights” who jumped with the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs. The Leap Frogs are comprised entirely of U.S. Navy Seals and they use the Blue Angels C-130 Fat Albert aircraft as their jump platform.

Unfortunately for the crowd, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor pulled out of the show at the last second due to operational priorities.

The Blue Angel six-plane delta formation makes a flat pass toward the crowd, with smoke on.

Civilian aerobatic performances were a big part of the show, with the civilian jet team The Patriots flying a six-jet demonstration in their L-39s. The Patriots are made up of former Blue Angels and Thunderbirds pilots. Also flying was one of the 25 living legends of aviation Sean D. Tucker in his Oracle Challenger. Tucker recently announced he will be no longer fly as a solo performer, but will continue his career as a leader of a performance team. Kent Pietsch, John Melby, Jacquie B. and John Collver, in an AT-6 Texan, rounded out the civilian acts.

The flight line included several dozen static displays of military and civilian aircraft and mainly showcased Marine Corps aircraft, vehicles and weapon systems. Highlights of the static included several MV-22 Ospreys, KC-130 Hercules and several Huey, Cobra and CH-53 helicopters. Also on hand were F-18 Hornets from squadrons based at Miramar, and from Camp Pendleton. A U.S. Navy F-35C and F-18G Growler were also on static display. The U.S. Air Force had no aircraft on static display, with the B-52 bomber, C-5 Galaxy, F-35A, F-16 and F-15E all canceling their appearance at the last minute.

Miramar was once again one of the elite flying and static displays to be demonstrated in the United States during this year’s air show season. MCAS Miramar, commanded by Col. Charles B. Dockery, and part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commanded by Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams, were once again given the chance to show the public its fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, along with its state of the art equipment. The public was given a rare opportunity to meet its brave and courageous men and women in uniform as they train to support the war on terrorism.

A Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet from the VMFA-314 Black Knights gets Vapor on a high-speed pass.


A CH-53E Super Stallion, two UH-1Y Venom helicopters and an MV – 22 Osprey fly in tight formation.


A UH-1Y Huey/Venom helicopter hovers as troops depart the aircraft by rope.


The F-35B Lightning II shows off the agility and STOVL capabilities of the fifth generation aircraft.


An F-35B Lightning II from VMFA-122 performs a low-speed pass.


An MV-22 Osprey, the world’s first production tilt-rotor aircraft shows off its hovering capabilities.


The U.S. Air Force U-2 spy plane performs a low-speed, low-level pass showing its narrow wing design.