Air show started out as 1960 Space Fair

An early 1970s Space Fair at Point Mugu draws a crowd. The Space Fair was held from 1960 to 1974, when the event name was changed to Air Show.

U.S. Navy photo

An early 1970s Space Fair at Point Mugu draws a crowd. The Space Fair was held from 1960 to 1974, when the event name was changed to Air Show.

This year marks the 43rd air show at Point Mugu.

For many of us, the air show holds memories of when our parents brought us here as children. The sights and sounds are one of a kind, from skywriting contrails to the roar of screaming jet engines.

The first Point Mugu Space Fair was held in 1960 as the space race was under way. Carnival rides and circus-size tents filled the ramp in front of Hangar 553. Aircraft from Point Mugu displayed on the ground, called static displays, included the P-2 Neptune, and flight demonstrations featuring the Army Golden Knights and an Army helicopter, took place during the morning and afternoon.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the Point Mugu Space Fair featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet demonstration team and Naval Air Station Point Mugu home-based squadrons. These included Air Test and Evaluation squadron Four (VX-4), which flew the F-8 Crusader and F-4B Phantom II, and Naval Missile Center A-4 Skyhawks and A-3 Skywarriors, which dropped live bombs demonstrating the aircraft’s strike capability.

Civilian air show acts included Dick Schram’s “Flying Professor,” flying his Piper Cub as a comedy act, and Frank Tallman, a legendary Hollywood stunt pilot, flying a bright red World War I Fokker DR-1 German plane. He was joined by James Appleby, who flew a French made Nieuport Model 28, and the two provided a turn-the-clock-back act that featured the two pilots dueling during the Space Fair.

Bob Hoover flying his yellow and black P-51 Mustang during the 1971Space Fair was also one of the highlights at NAS Point Mugu.

During the 1970s, an RF-8 Crusader from VFP-63 would usually begin the show by performing a photoflash loop while puffs of white smoke and photocharge flares were ejected from the aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, flew for the first time at Mugu during the 1971 Space Fair, flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II.

After the 1974 Space Fair, the name was changed to the Point Mugu Air Show.

The Royal Air Force sent a MR Mk 1 Nimrod, a maritime reconnaissance aircraft that flies at high subsonic speeds, to the 1979 air show. It was the first and last appearance by the Royal Air Force.

The shows at Point Mugu were among the very few to perform live AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air and Zuni air-to-ground rocket launch and bomb-drop demonstrations before an audience. The 1981 Point Mugu Air Show marked the last time live missiles were launched by Pacific Missile Test Center F-14As at an air show.

The U.S. Air Force SR-71A Blackbird gave many people a rare view of this special aircraft. The SR-71A made appearances in the 1981, 1983 and 1984 air shows.

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty Four (VAQ-34) flew for the first time during the 1983 air show. A VAQ-34 KA-3B Skywarrior demonstrated the air-to-air refueling capability of the newest tenant squadron at Point Mugu.

The 1986 Point Mugu Air Show celebrated 75 years of naval aviation. VX-4 displayed their 75th anniversary F-4S Phantom II in an overall dark blue paint scheme with gold markings.

The Blue Angels flew the FA-18A Hornet for the first time during the 1987 air show.

The Thunderbirds returned in 1989, flying the F-16A Fighting Falcon.

The Salute to Victory in the 1991 Point Mugu Air Show was held during July and featured the Blue Angels. Some static display aircraft carried nose art from the Persian Gulf War.

The 1992 show was highlighted by the Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Team. The show also marked the first time an Air Force F-117A Stealth Fighter from the 49th Fighter Wing and an B-1B Lancer bomber made an appearance on static display.

At the 1996 show, Point Mugu celebrated 50 years of test and evaluation excellence and featured the Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu, VX-9 Det. Point Mugu and the Blue Angels.

The show returned after a one-year absence in 1998. It featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon. The F-117A Stealth fighter also flew that year.

The Blue Angels returned to the 1999 Point Mugu Air Show. The Firehawks of HCS-5, working with a Navy SEAL team, demonstrated the Navy’s special warfare group.

Despite the lack of a headline act, the 2000 Point Mugu Air Show drew record crowds during its three-day run. Military aircraft such as the F-14, FA-18 and F-15 kept the spectators’ attention.

The Thunderbirds returned in 2001. Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu flew the NF-14 Tomcat and QF-4S Phantom II along with a FA-18C Hornet flight demonstration from VFA-125.

The Thunderbirds were also scheduled to perform in 2002, but the air show was canceled early Saturday afternoon after the crash of a Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu QF-4S (plus) Phantom II, killing the two-man crew.

Then the 2003 show was canceled due to the lack of a headline demonstration squadron. The war with Iraq was also a contributing factor.

The year 2004 marked the return of the Point Mugu Air Show. The headliner was the Patriot Aerobatic Team flying three Czech built L-39 jet aircraft. Other military acts include the F-15C Eagle, A-10A Thunderbolt II, E-2C Hawkeye 2000 and C-130E Hercules.

The 2005 Point Mugu Air Show headlined the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels, and the Navy Leap frogs parachute team. Military flight demonstrations included the FA-18F Super Hornet, E-2C Hawkeye, C-130J Hercules and F-16C Fighting Falcon.

The most recent air show, in 2007, was headlined by the Thunderbirds. Another highlight was the first flight demonstration by the Air Force F-22 Raptor, which brought praise from the air show audience. Other flying acts included the F-117A Nighthawk, F-15E Strike Eagle and the A-10A Thunderbolt II.

© 2010 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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