he fourth annual SBD Fest brought an ever-growing variety of aerobatic and other performances with the Patriots Jet Team again serving as the headline attraction while the U.S. Air Force A-10 demonstration team and the Red Bull Air Force provided new thrills.
The air show transformed the San Bernardino International Airport into festival grounds Saturday and Sunday as 12,000 of spectators were drawn by aircraft, skydivers, aerial stunt performances, a car show, motorcycles, vendors, wrestling and musical performances by Tierra, Sheyna Gee and the Gin Blossoms. Saturday evening the show was punctuated by the SBD Fest’s first fireworks show.
It was a year of firsts for the show that, for the first time, featured the world famous Red Bull Air Force and the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team.
The Red Bull Air Force brought a motocross stunt team as well as an aerial stunt team that performed in both fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter.
The team gave guests the rare opportunity of seeing aerial maneuvers such as barrel rolls and loops performed in a helicopter.
This year’s show benefitted The Unforgettables Foundation, a nonprofit created by Highland resident Tim Evans to help grieving families organize and fund funerals for their children.
According to SSgt. Betty Chevalier, public affairs lead for the A-10 Demo Team, this is the first year since 2011 that Air Combat Command has funded A-10 demonstrations.
The team brought two combat-ready A-10s, affectionately known as Warthogs, which after SBD Fest, the last show of the season, will return to the Air Force fleet for combat service. One plane was flown by Capt. Cody “Shiv” Wilton for aerial demonstrations and the second served as a backup and for static display.
The A-10 “Warthog” is a veteran of Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars and is the United States’ main aircraft purpose built to protect troops on the ground through close air support, Chevalier said.
This role makes it a favorite aircraft at air shows, especially among Army, Marine and allied veterans and soldiers.
“Everybody loves this aircraft and wants to see it,” she said. “Going out to air shows we meet veterans who share their love for this aircraft because it saved their lives. No other demonstration aircraft hears that.”
To fulfill that role the aircraft was designed to fly low, slow and with great agility, all flying characteristics that made it a great air show performer. While other jet aircraft cover great distances making brief passes and maneuvers in front of the audience the A-10 remained in front of the audience for almost the entirety of its performance.
Because its mission of protecting ground troops keeps the Warthog within range of enemy fire survivability is also a key design element. The Warthog is the fleet’s most heavily armed and most heavily armored aircraft, Chevalier shared.
The plane is built around a 30-millimeter Gatling gun that fires 70 Coke-bottle-size rounds per second and is designed to be able to continue flying with the loss of an engine, a half a wing, half a tail and complete hydraulic failure.
The A-10 closed its demonstration in a heritage flight, flying in formation with a Korean War era F-86 Sabre.
The F-86 and the T-33 (based on the P-80 Shooting Star) served as the show’s examples of the military aircraft that operated out of the airport when it was the Norton Air Force Base.
SB Strong pull
This year’s show continued the SB Strong Pull tradition with a tug of war challenge between San Bernardino’s law enforcement and firefighters.
The event, sponsored by San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, began as a way to remember the lives lost during the 2015 mass shooting. Int its first two years it was a plane pull with teams of law enforcement officers and firefighters competing to see which team could pull an airliner the quickest.
This year a 10-man San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department team challenged and defeated a team of San Bernardino City police officers on Saturday for the chance to challenge last year’s winners, San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Before a large and vocal crowd of supporters the sheriff’s department won this year’s bragging rights.