2014 Oregon International Airshow

Held later in the year than previous shows typically have been, this years Oregon International Airshow took place September 19th through September 21st. Of course, being later in the year meant the weather could be unpredictable with the possibility of rain playing a factor during the show. Things couldn’t have been farther from the opposite. With record breaking temperatures hovering around the low to mid 30’s the weather gods came through in a big way providing unbeatable sunshine through out the course of the weekend.

Kicking off Friday evening gates opened at 5:30PM for a fantastic “Twilight” show, during which, static displays were open to the public offering photographers a chance to not only capture beautifully lit flying displays but also any static aircraft also participating at the show. With many great acts wowing the crowds through out the evening the highlight for many was the USMC AV-8B Harrier II Demo. This was a rare opportunity to witness the unique demonstration put on by the Harrier in some outstanding lighting conditions. Another notable act during the evening was Screamin’ Sasquatch. A Barnstormers-er 1929 Taperwing Waco Body that literally has a jet engine strapped to it’s belly giving it not only more thrust than the weight of the airplane itself but one heck of a roar. As a result Screamin’ Sasquatch puts on quite an entertaining (and very loud) show with some great vertical manoeuvres. Caping off a great evening of flying was a superb fireworks display put on by Homeland Fireworks of Oregon.

While both acts mentioned performed on the Saturday and Sunday as well the headlining acts this year were undoubtedly the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Oregon International Airshow debut of the impressive F-22A Raptor. Staging out of Portland International over the course of the weekend due to insufficient runway length and security concerns at Hillsboro, 2014 F-22A Raptor Demonstration pilot Capt John “Taboo” Cummings put on an impressive display of power and manoeuvrability. With it's thrust vectoring nozzles directing over 70 thousand pounds of thrust from it's engines the F-22 seems to defy the laws of gravity during it's performance and was most certainly a crowd pleaser.

Marking their first appearance since 1993 the Canadian Forces Snowbirds were also a very welcome site in the skies above Hillsboro and for many attending the show, their first look at the team. The teams stop in Oregon was one of only five in the U.S this year as the majority of their shows are held in Canada. The stop also had added significance as all U.S shows were originally cancelled earlier in the year before being reinstated shortly there afterwards. Other notable acts throughout the weekend included the Bremont Horesmens beautiful three ship Sabre demo, Brent Handy from Redline Aerobatics with his Pitts Special, Sean D Tucker, Team Rocket, U.S Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and flybys from one of Horizons newly acquired Q400’s. The Snowbirds however were not the only aircraft form the RCAF supporting this show. The static lineup, although quite sparse due to the current economical times outlined in my Abbotsford report did have a Canadian presence with support from a 407sq CP-140 Aurora out of 19 Wing Comox and a Harvard II from 15 Wing Moose Jaw. The highlight for many on the static ramp however was a rare appearance of one of NASA’s F/A-18 Hornets. A workhorse of the fleet, the A model Hornet was only the 48th F/A-18 airframe built and also served a tour with the USN Blue Angels.

From a photographers stand point this was one of the best shows I’ve attended in terms of lighting. From almost the first flying act the sun is directly behind you and stays there for the duration of the show. The taxiway is situated directly in front of the crowd line resulting in great photo opportunities of pilots interacting with the crowd as they taxi out/in from their performance. Also, because of the airports smaller nature the hot ramp is as well very close to the spectators area offering an intimate overall feel with the constant buzz of airshow activities going on. Another note of interest is that the majority of attendees park off the airport grounds. Across the street from the main gate is a large parking area where people park then walk into the show resulting in very minimal waits when entering and exiting the show.

With superb lighting conditions, a great lineup of performers and a strong sense of overall organization the 2014 Oregon International AIrshow was a well run, enjoyable show to attend for both photographers and overall enthusiasts alike. With the 2015 show slated for July 17-19 the Hillsboro team is planning to put on another great show and proud to announce the return of the USN Blue Angels. Don't miss it!

report and photos Stuart Sanders