The fifth annual SBD Fest air show brought aviation history and live entertainment together at the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) the weekend of Nov. 2-3.
This year’s show offered a wide variety of thrills and spectacles with numerous live aviation demonstrations and performances, several musical performances as well as live wrestling and motocross stunt shows.
The air show was created to honor the history and traditions of the airport’s past service as the former Norton U.S. Air Force, which held annual air shows until its closure in 1994.
There were plenty of veterans, especially those with connections to Norton, on the show grounds including several aircraft that had been involved in historic military actions.
D-Day Doll, a C-53 Skytrain, was visiting the airport as a WWII veteran that participated in Operation Overlord, the massive allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France also known as D-Day.
D-Day Doll served three paratroop jump runs at Normandy on June 6, 1944, first day of the amphibious assault.
In June, D-Day Doll was flown back to Normandy where it participated in the 75th anniversary of D-Day events.
Additional WWII-era aircraft were brought to the show by multiple chapters of the Commemorative Air Force.
A Mitsubishi A6M Zero and a Grumman F6F Hellcat took the air and center stage together when reenacting a dogfight that would have occurred had the two planes met when enemies in the Pacific Theater of WWII.
According to the air show announcer, this specific Zero is a WWII veteran that was retrieved from New Guinea and restored to flying condition.
While the Hellcat used in the demonstration was built during the war it was built too late to take part in the action.
Signifying the roles the two aircraft models played in the war, the dogfight began with the Zero chasing the American fighter as its light-weight maneuverability made it the dominate fighter in the Pacific during the war’s early years.
Eventually the Americans designed and built the Hellcat, specifically to defeat the Zero, and its power, heavy armament and rugged durability flipped the tables in the battle for air supremacy.
At the war’s end, the Hellcat and its American pilots had earned an impressive 19:1 kill ratio over Japanese aircraft.
Also present was “Heavy Metal,” a locally owned Sikorsky UH60 Black Hawk helicopter that took part in Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia in 1993. Operation Gothic Serpent is famous for the Battle of Mogadishu, also known as “Black Hawk down,” in which two American Black Hawks were shot down.
Unical, an aircraft recycling company based at SBD, purchased the helicopter with the intention of repurposing it for civilian service, but, when its significance was discovered, the company restored it to its historic military configuration.
Several of the past shows’ favorites returned including the precision formation flying of the Patriots Jet Team and the use of a Boeing 737 as the stage for music concerts throughout the weekend.
The concerts included performances by Johnzo West, The Expendables, Stone Soul and local bands Teen Music Workshop, Alive in the Lights and Tierra.
A few subtle changes made this show uniquely special including a dramatically beautiful fireworks show Saturday night.
“The fireworks against the setting sun was phenomenal,” said SBD Aviation Director Mark Gibbs, who noted that the fireworks show was moved from center runway to the west end of the airport for logistical reasons.
Also new was the performance of Jeff Boerboon in his one-of-a-kind Yak 110 exhibition stunt plane. Conceived as two Yak 55s put together, the plane features the unique engine platform of two propeller engines with small central jet engine.
The unique arrangement allows the aircraft to perform stunts impossible in other aircraft.
Boerboon debuted the Yak 110 in August 2018.
To see more air show photos online visit highlandnews.net.