MILAVIA > Air Shows > NAS Oceana Air Show 2012 Last updated: 16 November 2012

Air Show Report : NAS Oceana Air Show 2012


On September 14-16, 2012, another edition of the NAS Oceana Air Show was organized by the U.S. Navy. Dave O'Brien contributed his photo report of the show.

NAS Oceana Air Show 2012

Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach VA once again welcomed the air show community through their gates. After Mother Nature was less than cooperative for the show last year with three days of rain, pretty much cancelling 90% of the 2011 acts, she more than made up for it with three days of great weather this year with temperatures in the mid 80s °F.

Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show 2012
ATAC Kfir C2 arriving for the static show
ATAC Hunter Mk.58 arriving for the static show
EA-6B Prowler of VAQ-129 "Vikings", the Navy and Marine Corps' Prowler training squadron
US Navy HCS-84 "Red Wolves" HH-60H Rescue Hawk in retro HAL-3 "Seawolves" Vietnam c/s
VAW-124 "Bear Aces" E-2C Hawkeye CAG bird
VFC-12 "Fighting Omars" F/A-18A+ Hornet in the new aggressor c/s
VFA-81 "Sunliners" F/A-18E Super Hornet
VFA-34 "Blue Blasters" F/A-18C Hornet
VFA-106 "Gladiators" F/A-18E Super Hornet

NAS Oceana Fleet Demo

As the US Navy's Master Jet Base on the East Coast, the air show includes a great act that Oceana calls the Fleet Demo. This consists of both Legacy and Super Hornets taking off and acting out a mock attack on a target: Coming in from different directions, showing the different attack patterns the Navy uses and a little pyrotechnics for some special effects.

Fleet demo Super Hornets ready for take-off
VFA-81 F/A-18E Super Hornet take-off
VFA-106 F/A-18F and F/A-18C take-off
Fleet Demo formation
F/A-18C Hornet, note the ATFLIR pod
VFA-34 F/A-18C Hornet
F/A-18E Super Hornet refueling F/A-18C
F/A-18E Super Hornet tanker
VFA-106 F/A-18C attack run
Hornet formation breaking
F/A-18F Super Hornet
F/A-18F Super Hornet
F/A-18F Super Hornet
F/A-18E Super Hornet
F/A-18E Super Hornet egress with afterburners lit
Pyro simulating the Hornet's strike attack
F/A-18E Super Hornets break
F/A-18E breaking away from a F/A-18C

Hornet Solo Displays

The US Navy of today operates both the F/A-18C/D Hornet, nowadays dubbed the Legacy Hornet, and the newer F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) "Gladiators" based at NAS Oceana provides the East Coast's Tac Demo with both Legacy Hornet and Super Hornet. The F/A-18C Legacy Hornet Demo opened the show on Friday, and headed up the US Navy portion of the show on Saturday and Sunday. The F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo flew an incredible demo in the afternoon, providing lots of vapor shots for all the photographers.

VFA-106 Legacy Hornet Demo taking off
F/A-18C Legacy Hornet
F/A-18C Legacy Hornet tactical demonstration
F/A-18C Legacy Hornet high-speed pass
F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo
F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo by VFA-106
F/A-18F Super Hornet high-speed pass

US Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight

The F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet each teamed up with the SB2C Helldiver for the U.S. Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight, showing the Navy's carrier-based airpower of yesterday and today. This SB2C-5 is owned by the Commemorative Air Force and is the only Helldiver flying today.

SB2C Helldiver
SB2C Helldiver dive bomber
F/A-18C Hornet and Helldiver Tailhook Legacy Flight
SB2C Helldiver returning from Legacy Flight
SB2C Helldiver with wings folded
US Navy Legacy Fligth with F/A-18F Super Hornet

Air Force Jet Displays

Not to be outdone by the Navy, the U.S. Air Force took center stage with a QF-4 Phantom II demonstration. The QF-4 is a drone conversion of the Phantom which can also be flown remotely to eventually become a target of a live missile, ending its impressive career. The F-16C East Coast Demo from Shaw AFB met up with the Phantom to perform the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight. Sadly, once all the QF-4s are gone, surplus F-16s will be the next aircraft to be converted to Full Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) drones. The better performance of the F-16 compared to the F-4, means the QF-16 will be more representative of fourth-generation targets.

QF-4E Phantom II display
QF-4E Phantom II of the USAF Heritage Flight
QF-4E Phantom II dirty pass, gear and hook down
F-16C East Coast Demo
F-16C from Shaw AFB
F-16C afterburner
F-16C turning in for the Heritage Flight
U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight
F-16C Fighting Falcon and QF-4E Phantom II formation
Second pass by the USAF Heritage Flight
F-16C and QF-4E breaking formation
F-16C afterburner turn
QF-4E Phantom II final pass
QF-4E Phantom II taxiing back

Yak-9 and L-39

One interesting performer among the civilian acts was the Yak-9. Serving the Soviet Union, this Yakovlev fighter first saw combat in late 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad. In production from 1942 to 1948, the Yak-9 is the most produced Soviet fighter. But this example was only built in 1997, using mid 1940's parts that had been found in a Russian warehouse they explained. The Yak-9 teamed up for some passes with the Black L-39 subsonic trainer to show how the propeller-driven fighters had to outmaneuver the faster jet-engined fighters that they encountered later in the war.

Yakovlev Yak-9 close-up of "Mini-Me"
Yakovlev Yak-9 low-level maneuvering
L-39 with VX-9 "Vampires" c/s
L-39 deploying air brakes to slow down
Yak-9 and L-39 in close formation
Yak-9 and L-39 formation fly-by
L-39 with VX-9 Det Pt Mugu F-14-like tail, VX-9 inherited the insignia from VX-4 "The Evaluators"

Red Devils Parachute team

To have a spectacular parachute display, the Oceana air show had the British Army's Parachute Regiment display team. The Red Devils performed their Mass Jump from a US Navy C-2 Greyhound of VRC-40 "Rawhides". The C-2 is an excellent jump platform and was used in the past to airdrop special operations units such as the SEALS until the airframes approached their landing limits and had to be preserved for the vital role of Carrier Onboard Delivery. Since the C-2s have undergone a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the "Rawhides" can now fly airdrop missions again.

C-2A Greyhound take-off for the Red Devils' airdrop
British Army Red Devils jumping from the USN C-2 Greyhound
British Army Red Devil parachutist with Stars and Stripes flag
British Army Parachute Regiment Team Red Devils
Red Devils parachute display
Descending C-2A Greyhound
Like the E-2 Hawkeye, the C-2 has been upgraded with NP2000 eight-blade props
Final shot of the C-2 of VRC-40 "Rawhides"

Black Diamond Jet Team

The civilian jet display team for the 2012 Oceana air show was the Black Diamond Jet Team This team flies four L-39 and two MiG-17 jets. The MiG-17s are flown by well renowned Dale 'Snort' Snodgrass and Mike 'Buick' Eberhardt, both USN retired veterans. These two guys are flying the pair as close as the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds do, they were amazing!

The Black Diamond Jet Team ready for display
MiG-17 of the Black Diamond Jet Team
L-39 of the Black Diamond Jet Team
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 take-off
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 take-off
Black Diamond Jet Team four L-39s and two MiG-17s
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17s breaking from the L-39s
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 pair flying by
Black Diamond Jet Team diamond formation
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17
The MiG-17 afterburner giving the Black Diamond display some color
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 high-speed pass
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 climb
The amazing MiG-17 pair of the Black Diamond Jet Team
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17s close formation
Black Diamond Jet Team formation

Blue Angels

Of course the best fitting jet display team for an air show at one of the Navy's Master Jet Bases is the US Navy's own demonstration team: the Blue Angels. After the USMC C-130 "Fat Albert" solo performance, the USN Blue Angels jets took over the sky. The four-plane diamond formation and two solo jets flew their aerobatic maneuvers perfectly as always, joining up for the six-jet delta formation to end the show.

Blue Angels flightline
Blue Angels C-130 "Fat Albert" display
Blue Angels C-130 "Fat Albert"
Blue Angels C-130 "Fat Albert" final pass
Blue Angels pre-flight checks
Blue Angels taxiing to the runway
Blue Angels solo high-alpha take-off
Blue Angels #7 two-seater high-speed pass
Blue Angels formation
Blue Angels vapor shot
Blue Angels diamond formation
Blue Angels diamond formation
Blue Angels main formation
Blue Angels formation break
Blue Angels vapor trails
Blue Angels two-seater

Friday's Twilight Show

The Oceana air show includes a great night show which they open up to the public Friday evening, after the Friday practice sessions are over. The Twilight Air Show started at 5pm with the F/A-18C Legacy Hornet which was teamed up with the SB2C Helldiver after the Hornet Demo had thrilled the crowds. This is the only operational Helldiver flying today. They performed their Tailhook Legacy Flight showing the Navy's airpower of yesterday and today.
After the Blue Angels' C-130 "Fat Albert", the Black Diamond Jet Team took to the skies next with a beautiful setting sun as its back drop. The evening show was closed with the F/A-18 Super Hornet afterburner fly-over and ended with fireworks.

F/A-18C Legacy Hornet Demo opened the show at 5PM
Blue Angels "Fat Albert" landing
Sunset Blue Angels "Fat Albert" fly-by
Blue Angels C-130 "Fat Albert" in evening light
Dale 'Snort' Snodgrass taxies his MiG-17 to the runway
Black Diamond Jet Team twilight display
MiG-17 lit up by its afterburner
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 pair at sunset
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 twilight formation
Black Diamond Jet Team MiG-17 low-level
Black Diamond Jet Team evening show
The EA-6B Prowler in night conditions

It was so nice to be able to see the full show this year after our 12 hour drive one way. I would like to thank the Public Affairs of NAS Oceana for their support and Mother Nature for making Oceana's 2012 edition a great show.

Next NAS Oceana Air Show: September 21-22, 2013

Report and photos by Dave O'Brien ( view portfolio )

First Published: 15 November 2012