News: Air show displays walk through history
Story by Lance Cpl. Erica Kirsop
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - Although the aerial performances enticed guests to the 2011 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show, the increased number of vintage aircraft brought to celebrate the centennial of naval aviation also lured in visitors ages 8 to 80.
Embodying the theme, “Salute to San Diego: Birthplace of Naval Aviation,” this year’s air show marked the 100th anniversary of naval aviation and featured more than 100 aircraft from Naval and Marine Corps aviation history.
Heritage aircraft, both helicopters and planes, were brought in from various locations along the west coast. Seventeen of these aircraft came from the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, which is located at the north side of MCAS Miramar.
“We normally only bring out maybe five or six,” said Walt Nicoll, a museum volunteer and retired Navy fire control man. “But thanks to this being the centennial we were allowed to show 17 aircraft from our collection this year including a [TO-1/TV-1 Shooting Star], one of the Navy’s very first fighters.”
Multiple generations of spectators could be seen sitting in the static displays and asking questions to the service members, former military and museum experts attending and working the air show.
“I came out here with my grandpa who used to be a major in the Marine Corps,” said Katrina NeeDels, age 8. “I want to be a pilot one day and I like looking at all the things people used to fly. My favorites are the old helicopters with the straps across your chest.”
In drawing out various military and former military spectators, the air show served as a way for some of those who have served their country to reunite.
Retired Marine Corps Col. John Telles Jr. and former Lance Cpl. Lou Castellano, a TA-4J Skyhawk mechanic, not only served together but have known each other since the 1st grade. The two Marines came across each other while viewing the aircraft they both formerly worked with at the museum’s display.
The air show gives those who no longer wear the uniform but will always be part of “the brotherhood” of the Marine Corps a chance to meet and bond over the memories associated with aircraft they “have come to love” explains Telles.
Spectators from several countries were also in attendance scouring through the approximate one-mile stretch of aviation history.
Guests from various countries including Canada and Mexico photographed the numerous planes and helicopters parked along the flight line, each having their own reason.
One guest, Don Kotelko, a former member of the Canadian air force, photographed nearly 300 images for his personal collection of historical aircraft.
“I spend all my vacation time visiting air shows, but I have come to Miramar’s the most,” said Kotelko. “I love to fly the older stuff, and the newer stuff excites me. This being such a big show, lets me see a lot of what I love. The idea of aircraft and their history of progression fascinates me.”
Whether the heritage aircraft featured from the past 100 years of naval aviation on display served to help in honoring the tradition of military aviation, reunite guests or inspire aeronautic hopefuls, it is clear that the historic display of the 2011 MCAS Miramar Air Show has drawn in a significant portion of the approximately 750,000 attending guests over the three-day event.