Speed, flying power the stars at Mugu air show

first_imgAnd though the Thunderbirds, with their red-white-and-blue F-16s and razor-sharp precision moves, were the nominal headliner, many in the crowd seemed much more interested in the debut of the F-22 Raptor. The stealth fighter, rarely seen at air shows, managed to impress even seasoned pilots like Conners and Campbell. As it cruised down the runway, its twin turbofan-engines humming, a palpable sense of excitement bubbled among the enthusiasts clustered at one end. “The Raptor’s going up now,” one hollered. “Now the show really starts!” And then it did, as Maj. Paul “Max” Moga threw open the throttles and the plane shot forward like a Corvette peeling out off the line. As it cleared the ground, Moga pulled up sharply until the F-22 was accelerating nearly straight up. Back and forth, back and forth, Moga worked the new jet across the field, executing tight turns and skids that would have made a Formula One driver envious. The crowd ate it up. “I’ve never seen a plane turn like that in my life,” marveled Markus Michelson, a mechanical engineer and recreational pilot from Camarillo. “I’d definitely like to get a ride in one of those things.” He stared heavenward at the Raptor, which seemed to hang motionless at the top of its arc. Then Moga kicked in the afterburners and jerked the graceful plane away. [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY – First Lt. Russ Campbell’s head snapped around, tracking the F-15E Strike Eagle as it dove in low toward the runway. As the fighter raced above the tarmac, engines roaring like a thunderclap, Campbell broke into a grin and cheered his fellow Air Force pilot. “How do you put that into words?” he yelled. “It feels like there’s someone pounding on your chest, you feel the force washing out of the jets, your heart starts to pound.” Earlier in the day, Campbell was working, pulling on his olive-drab flight suit and a radio headset and talking his partner through a demonstration of the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet. But as the Eagle made its runs back and forth before the cheering gallery, Campbell was just one of more than 70,000 excited fans at the Naval Base Ventura County Air Show at Point Mugu. The show, aided by sunny weather and a popular headliner with the USAF Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, packed in visitors across the air station’s vast runways. Sons tried on their first pairs of aviator sunglasses as their dads puffed cigars. Grey-bearded men set up lawnchairs and sipped beer from plastic cups as younger guys hooted and bellowed with each pass of a screaming fighter jet. Wives and girlfriends dutifully snapped pictures of dudes posing in front of aircraft from another era. “It’s the speed, the noise, the near-death experience with the airplanes so close together,” said Capt. Brad Conners, a Navy fighter pilot who now serves as commanding officer of the base. “You get to see this stuff up close and personal.” last_img read more