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In 2011, Naval Air Station Meridian celebrates its 50th anniversary honoring the commissioning of the base in July 1961, along with celebrating the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
What a better way to celebrate than with an air show featuring the Navy’s elite Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. NAS Meridian Commanding Officer Capt. Charles Gibson has announced that “Golden Wings Over Meridian” is set for March 26-27. The Angels last performed at NAS Meridian in March 2008 for a record-breaking crowd of more than 90,000 spectators. The NAS Meridian air show will be the third stop during the Blue Angels’ 38-show 2011 season.
The NAS Meridian Air Show Committee is working diligently to book additional acts and demonstration aircraft. As in years past, the air show will be free and open to the public.
Famed air show announcer Rob Reider returns to NAS Meridian to narrate the air show. Reider is an entertainer, pilot, Midwest television personality, singer, performer, writer, and winner of five Emmy awards. This is Rob’s 33rd year as an announcer and his sixth as a full-time air show announcer. With 88 shows completed in the last four years, he’s excited about the upcoming season.
All of his entertainment, show business, video, and aviation experience have given him the ability to communicate the excitement of air shows to the audience. “I’ve never gotten over just how amazing air show performers are,” Rob notes on his web site. “Narrating a show is a wonderful opportunity to try to put an audience ‘into the cockpit.’ Besides, when I’m announcing, I have the best seat in the house!”
One of the most exciting moments during the air show will be when the classic Warbirds Demonstration Team takes to the sky over NAS Meridian. Known as the Trojan Horsemen, the pilots’ repertoires include both four-ship and six-ship formation demonstrations including formation aerobatics by the two solo pilots. The routine is a patriotic tribute to the United States Armed Forces with music and narration.
The team is built around the T-28 Trojan aircraft — a crowd pleasing, large, fast and loud warbird with combat history and a growling 1425 HP radial engine. The aircraft have smoke systems and sport authentic U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy paint schemes and markings to complement the patriotic theme.
The 16-member team consists of former military pilots, decorated veterans, instructors, airline pilots, and experienced civilian air show pilots with hundreds of years combined experience, unblemished safety records, and all required credentials.
The Black Daggers — the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team will also appear at the air show.
The mission of the Black Daggers is to perform live aerial demonstrations in support of Army Special Operations community relations and recruiting. Comprised of volunteers from throughout Army Special operations the Daggers have diverse backgrounds and are skilled in various military specialties including Special Forces, Rangers, civil affairs, psychological operations and signal and support. The team represents the professionalism and dedication of special operations forces.
Also scheduled to perform is the Viper West, one of two F-16 demonstration teams in the U.S. Air Forces’ Air Combat Command. Viper West is based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The F-16 Fighting Falcon, more commonly known to military pilots as the Viper, is a compact, extremely maneuverable multi-role fighter aircraft. The F-16 has proven itself in air-to-air combat as well as air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the air forces of the United States and other allied nations.
Also performing will be the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The aircraft has several advancements over the F/A-18C/D model including greater range and endurance; carries heavier payloads; enhanced survivability, and built-in scalable solutions for potential future systems and technologies. In addition, the F/A-18E/F was awarded the 1999 Collier Award recognizing the Super Hornet as the most capable and survivable carrier-based combat aircraft.
Another exciting performance will come from the F4U Corsair. Definitely one of the most distinctive designs ever employed by a fighter aircraft, the Vought F4U-5NL Corsair lives as one of the most famous fighters built during World War II. Its gull-wing design to allow the propeller to rotate without hitting the ground made it an icon for a generation of plane “buffs” who knew the stories of such groups as the “Black Sheep Squadron” who utilized the F4U-5NL. Used in Korea as a carrier-based fighter and night fighter, the Corsair showed its technologically advanced features to survive in an era where propeller-driven fighters were being replaced by jets.
The Northrop F-5 will thrill onlookers during its performance. The F-5 is the primary adversary aircraft used at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at NAS Fallon, Nev., otherwise known as TOPGUN. These aircraft are picked as adversary aircraft due to the similar flight characteristics of aircraft used by other nations.
Also performing will be the F4F Wildcat, SB2C Helldiver, SBD Dauntless, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell Doo Little, A-4 Skyhawk, T-2 Buckeye, T-28 Trojan and P-51 Mustang. NAS Meridian’ T-45C Goshawks will perform a fly-over.
Static displays include the E-2 Hawkeye, SBD-5 Avenger, C-17 Globemaster, C-1 Trader and SNJ-5 Texan.