Air show began in 1960, called 'Space Fair'

The cover of the program for the 1962 Space Fair, a predecessor of the air show at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu.

The cover of the program for the 1962 Space Fair, a predecessor of the air show at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu.

First of two parts

For many of us, the air show at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu holds memories of when our parents brought us here as children, especially that one-of-a-kind sound of jet engines screaming through the sky.

The first Point Mugu Space Fair was held in 1960 as the space race was under way. Carnival rides, including a Ferris wheel, and circus-size tents filled the ramp in front of Hangar 553. Static display aircraft from Point Mugu, then a Naval Air Station, included the P-2 Neptune. Flight demonstrations featuring the Army Golden Knights and an Army helicopter took place during the morning and afternoon.

Throughout the 1960s to the early 1970s, the Point Mugu Air Show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet demonstration team and NAS Point Mugu home-based squadrons. These included Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 4, which flew the F-8 Crusader and F-4B Phantom II, and the Naval Missile Center, which flew A-4 Skyhawks and A-3 Skywarriors. Some jets even dropped live bombs to demonstrate an aircraft’s strike capability.

Civilian air show acts during this time period included Dick Schram, “The Flying Professor,” in 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. Tallman was joined by James Appleby, who flew a French-made Nieuport Model 28, and they provided a turn-the-clock-back act featuring the two pilots dueling during the Space Fair. Schram and Tallman would later die in air crashes; Appleby died in 2010 at the age of 86 after breaking his hip in a fall.

During the 1970s an RF-8 Crusader from VFP-63 would usually begin the show 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, performed for the first time during the 1971 Space Fair, flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II.

That same year, Bob Hoover flew his yellow and black P-51 Mustang, another highlight of the show. Just last year, Hoover helped talk down the pilot of a P-51 that ran into trouble over Mobile, Ala. According to “Flying” magazine, the director of the museum that owned the P-51 called Hoover, because “Nobody’s got more time in a Mustang or knows more about them.”

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

The Royal Air Force sent an 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.

Point Mugu air shows were among the 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 show marked the last time live missiles were launched by Pacific Missile Test Center F-14A’s at an air show.

© 2013 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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CAPT. LARRY VASQUEZ

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ANDREA HOWRY, 805-989-5281

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Ventura County Star - 805-437-0000

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MARGIE COCHRANE, Ventura County Star

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NSWC Port Hueneme and representatives from eight allied, international navies joined forces on April 7 to establish a unified strategic plan for modernizing and sustaining the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) on a global scale, yielding enhanced worldwide fleet readiness and collective maritime strength against ever-evolving threats.
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