The Great New England Air Show
The Great New England Air Show returns to the Barnes Air National Guard Base on August 12-13, 2017
After a four year hiatus, the Great New England Air Show returned to the Westover Air Reserve Base here in western Massachusetts for an August, 2012 engagement. The two day event drew over two hundred thousand visitors during a hot and sultry summer weekend. Despite the high temperatures visitors flocked to the tarmac to get an up-close and personal look at some of this country’s finest aviation hardware.
If you love the roar of an airplane engine, the scent of jet fuel in the air, and seeing some of the country’s top pilots showing off their skills then a trip to the air show can make for a fun and entertaining day.
The Air Show in western Massachusetts takes place every two years and alternates between the Westover Air Reserve Base located in Chicopee, Massachusetts and the Barnes Air National Guard Base located in Westfield. Both bases are set amongst the rolling hills of western Massachusetts and offer a beautiful backdrop for this very popular event.
It had been a number of years since I attended an air show so I was looking forward to this day with great anticipation. I was initially disappointed to learn that neither the Thunderbirds nor the Blue Angels would be performing this year but that did not deter from the amazing aerial displays that took place over the sky’s of western Massachusetts.
The Iron Eagles and the Geico Skytypers both put on an amazing acrobatic aerial display that had the crowd looking skyward in amazement. In addition to the aerial performances there were a number of high performance aircraft fly-bys that wowed the crowd.
“A Salute to the Greatest Generation” was the theme of this year’s air show and it was evident by the number of World War II era airplanes that were present at the show. Watching the B25 bomber make a simulated bombing run must have brought back memories for any veterans in attendance. The B25 Mitchell Bomber, named for aviation pioneer General Billy Mitchell, was made famous as the bomber used in the 1942 Doolittle Raid which was the first US attack on the Japanese mainland following Pearl Harbor. The B25 was also on static display at the show giving visitors an opportunity to get an up-close look at this famous aircraft.
On the ground was an impressive display of static aircraft that visitors could check out, and in many instances climb into.
Representatives from both the Air Force and the Air National Guard were on hand to answer any questions and proudly showoff their equipment. It really is amazing to get up close and personal with a giant C-5A Galaxy transport plane and its sheer size makes you wonder how on earth that thing gets airborne. The C-5A was one of the planes that visitors were allowed to walk through and I must say it was impressive and very, very big.
Among the numerous aircraft on display in addition to the C-5A were the: B1 Lancer, B52 Stratofortress, KC135 Tanker, F15 Eagle, C17 Globemaster, A10 Warthog, MV22 Osprey and the Blackhawk Helicopter in addition to numerous other vintage airplanes.
Attending an air show is the general public’s chance to check out some of the military’s latest hardware as well as some of the premier aircraft from years gone by. It is clear that getting the chance to poke around in one of these airplanes appeals to members of all generations as kids and elders alike explored these planes inside and out.
Throughout the weekend visitors were treated to a number of aerial performances that had eyes glued to the skies above Chicopee. One of the more anticipated displays was the flight demonstration of the Osprey which put on quite a show as it hovered above the runway and flew in every which direction including sideways and backwards.
For those who love the roar of an afterburner the F15 Eagle and the F18 Hornet both flew solo demonstrations which had everyone in awe of their abilities. There is nothing quite like hearing the roar of an F15 as the pilot points his plane vertically, hits the afterburner, and accelerates straight up into the sky. Another highlight to the weekend was the fly-by put on by the B2 Stealth Bomber. The B2 flew all the way from its home at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to grace us with its presence.
B-2 Bomber Fly-By
2014 Air Show postponed until 2015
The next air show in western Massachusetts was supposed to be in the summer of 2014 at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts. However, the Westfield International Air Show, as it is known, has been postponed due to a runway expansion at the airport. The wait will be worth it though as the Navy's Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at the 2015 Air Show. This is good news for western Massachusetts as it’s been awhile since they have made an appearance here (2010). The Great New England Air Show will return to the Westover Air Reserve base in May, 2015.
© 2012 Bill De Giulio