The entire family spent the afternoon at the Southern Wisconsin AirFest in Janesville, where the Canadian Snowbirds were the headline performance. But they were definitely not the only show in town!

The first aerobatic performance was from Susan Dacy, an airline captain out of Chicago flying an old biplane capable of simple aerobatics, but she put on quite a show, and ended her performance by racing a rocket powered Dodge pickup truck. The truck won the race, but it was very cool to watch. They claim the truck hit 330 MPH, and from what I saw, I pretty much believe it.

The US Navy came next, demonstrating the FA-18 fighter/attack airplane. This is an impressive plane, even if military aircraft is not your thing. It did a low-level pass at over 650 MPH with the afterburners on, and rocked the place like an earthquake. I wish I had been videotaping the girls instead of the plane, because when the roar of the engines passed by it was deafening (literally) and they hit the deck! They did not expect that at all. This plane also has unbelievable slow flight abilities which the pilot showed by making another pass that could not have been more than about 70 MPH. The rocket powered Dodge truck did not even attempt to race this plane 🙂

Up next was Mike Goulian in his Extra. He did a mind-blowing aerobatic performance with a lot of snap rolls, flat spins, hammerheads, loops, rolls and one stunt that I cannot even describe, other than totally out of control. I have been a pilot myself for over 20 years and I could not figure out how he did what he did. He is also a Red Bull racer and is competing in Detroit next weekend, so I will have to catch that on TV.

The US Air Force came next, demonstrating the F-15 figher. This plane is incredible to watch, don’t get me wrong, but the FA-18 is in another class entirely. The coolest part of this performance, at least for me and the others that understand its significance, was a formation flight with the F-15 and P-51 Mustang. The Mustang led the way with the F-15 just off its wing for several minutes of tight formation flying. It was very cool to see the best of the old-school (the P-51 is over 65 years old) fighters and some of the latest military aviation technology flying side by side. You just had to be there.

And of course the Canadian Snowbirds finished the show. The most impressive thing about them is the shear number of planes involved, 9 today. They are a lot of fun to watch, but spend a lot of time far away from airport rather than keeping their act overhead. This causes the kids (and some adults) to lose interest as there is usually a 1-2 minute pause between “interesting” things. They are good, without a doubt, but my vote is still for the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. They keep it tight and fast the entire show.