REPORT: Wings Over Houston 2018

The 2018 Wings Over Houston Airshow is in the books.  My four-day airshow started with the Young Eagles flight with Sean D Tucker and the arrival of the Blue Angels on Thursday.  Also arriving that day were some of the stars of the static display, includingan AC-130W Hercules from Cannon AFB and B-52H Stratofortress. As we watched, we also had an excellent opportunity to photograph a NASA WB-57 Canberra taxiing and taking off in front of us.

Come Friday morning, bad weather had arrived, so the ‘Special Airshow’ (a private show organised for children with special needs) had to be curtailed.  The USAF F-16 Viper demonstration team was the only jet to fly on the Friday.  The Blues had to scrub their rehearsal due to the low ceiling and rain.

By Saturday, the rain moved out, but the ceiling never lifted enough for most of the performances. We did enjoy an impromptu fireworks display, though, as they had to shoot all the airshow pyro off. Surprisingly the Blue Angels flew a really low flat show on Sat with just an 800 foot ceiling!

Sunday began with a sunrise tour of the active ramp. We had a special surprise that morning as the Collings Foundation launched their F-4 Phantom and F-100 Super Sabre for a photo flight. The aircraft were not flying at the show, so it was great to have the opportunity to see them in the air.

Sunday was a great day for an airshow, although the static lineup was smaller than usual due to the poor weather on the previous days.  Joining the  AC-130 and B-52 was a C-17 Globemaster from Wright Patterson AFB, two EA-18G Growlers from VAQ-209 “Star Warriors” (including the CAG bird) and a UH-72 Lakota from Louisiana in Aggressor colors.  The warbird lineup was again sparse due to the previous days’ weather, but included the newly-restored C-47 “That’s All Brother”, which also participated in the Sunday flying display.

The flying started at 11:00 with the flag jump and Debbie Rihn Harvey‘s Cap-232 routine.  After she landed Sean D Tucker gave us a short teaser of both his show and the two-ship routine he will fly next year – Wings Over Houston was set to be his final solo aerobatic performance.

US Coast Guard Air Station Houston came in next with their HH-65D Dolphin and and a fantastic demonstration of their rescue techniques, followed by the Phillips 66 Aerostars and their four Extra 300Ls, whom I enjoyed immensely. Tora Tora Tora then commenced their show – the northerly wind meant all the pyro smoke was pushed to the opposite side of the field, making for some excellent photography conditions.

The trainers were next, including a U-3A in Us Army colors. The U-3A is the military version of the Cessna 310 was used as a liason and utility aircraft in Vietnam. There were no Naval WWII planes that could make it to the show, so Army Air Corps warbird next, including one B-17, two B-25s, a C-45, C-47, P-40, P-51 and P-63.

Major John “Rain” Waters was next in the F-16 Viper demontration, which was both solid an fast-paced.  He also joined with a P-51D Mustang for a Heritage Flight, with the Mustang flown by Tom “Gumby” Gregory. It was his last Heritage Flight performance.

This was followed by John Klatt in the “Screamin’ Sasquatch” Jet Waco, followed by the final ever solo performance of Sean D Tucker in the Oracle Challenger. His routine is incredibly powerful and will be missed.  When he landed he taxied right in front of the announcer stand and shook hands and hugged the Blue Angel pilots and members of his family. The Blue Angels took off next and rounded off the show with their flawless display; I can’t recall ever seeing the Line Abreast Loop perfect.

Wings Over Houston returns next October, headlined by the USAF Thunderbirds.

Nathan Thompson is a professional flight planner from Texas. Wings Over Houston is his regular event.