HARRIER AND THE ARCH
The 2012 Fair St. Louis took place yesterday, being the third year of the relaunched event. As in prior years this show was very unorganized on exact performers and flyby’s, with most confirmations coming from forums instead of the website. Instead of two days with four airshows, this ear only had one day with two airshows because of the the 4th falling on a Wednesday.
This year brought some of the most sought after civilian performers such as Skip Stewart, Rob Holland, and John Klatt. As in prior years, each show did not have all the performers as planned, which angered aviation fans who were wanting to see a specific performer. Again, this is has never been noted by the Fair St. Louis team and communication to them goes unanswered. It may be because of money or time constraints on specific performers, as this show is usually built at the last minute. Skip Stewart for example removed STL from his schedule in June but he still appeared at the show.
On the Military side, the U.S. Army Golden Knights made their first Fair St. Louis appearance along with the return of the USMC Harrier; this time the actual demo team. However because of FAA restrictions a full demo can not be cleared. Years prior have included flyby’s and Art Nall’s civilian owned sea harrier. A USAF heritage flight with an A-10/P-51 did occur during the morning show but was not present in the afternoon. Instead, that was replaced by a B-52 flyby.
The show was also headlined by the EAA’s B-17, which will be in St. Louis through the weekend giving rides and participating in various events.
So as is typical, some acts performed while others did not; some never even showed up. However for what it was, the show was still a fast paced 90 minutes that even had a few military birds for good measure. Improving this show is hard because you can’t fit in any real military demonstrations and flybys are hard to come by with budget cuts. The only thing I can suggest is better updating on the schedule and a harder push for military support. St. Louis is home to more than the harrier, and I think that should be included in the future. Then again, if the audience is still chanting for it after three consistent years, why change?
I wish I could write a proper review of this airshow.
The Fair St. Louis Airshow was brought back last year because of high demand. I mean, its a pretty cool sight to see planes do tricks under the arch who would not want to see that?
Performers wise, this year was a major step up from the last. There was a lot more military action included with this show where as last year was 100% civilian save an F-15K flyby from Boeing and a C-130 flyby from the Missouri ANG.
I got to go on a ramp tour before the show started (there were five shows in total between Sat and Monday each 90 min long) which was a very cool experience. Again I don’t own an SLR and my digital camera was not available so only a few droid pics were taken from the tour. I then headed to East St. Louis lookout station for the airshow. Its a nice little park with a three story high rise directly across the river and arch. Needless to say it was crowded with media and photographers.
Saturday’s airshow was to be opened up with a flyby by the B-2 Spirit. The thing about this park; you have to cross two train tracks to get into it. A train was just so happened to be stopped on one of those tracks for thirty minutes. By the time it moved the Spirit was already over the sky. It made a total of four flyby’s all of which I could not catch on camera because I was still on the road. Saturday’s airshow was not the complete show. The USN Legacy Flight and C-130 demonstration complete with special forces Black Daggers did not show up in time for the show. The airshow sponsors were smart enough to get the marines Osprey and Harrier to return to St. Louis after Marine week for the airshow. However they were not proper demonstration teams so each aircraft only did flybys.. the harrier did not actually hover. With the heat index at 105 degrees I called in quits about half way through since the rest of the show was civilian props. I planned to go back the next day and see the entire airshow as it should be seen with all the performers.
Sadly severe storms swept through the area that Sunday and lasted several hours even though there was only a 25% chance of precipitation (A STL tradition). On Monday I did not go that way because it was the fourth of July and sitting in traffic two hours there and back was just not worth the hassle when rain was still in the area.
So I have to say that for me Fair St. Louis 2011 was a disappointment. It was just a case of bad luck with broken trains, severe storms, and traffic that prevented this past weekend from reaching it’s full potential. The airshow organizers did a great job with handling the show, considering the only military support they get is flyby’s they made darn sure it was going to be the best flyby’s you would ever see. My only complaint was consistency. The website stated that all the performers were going to fly on each airshow, yet every airshow was missing something from the other. The B-2 was the only announced performer that was going to be making one appearance. Some times aircraft flew other times they did not according to other reviews and pictures I have seen.
I did manage to get some footage of T-38 talons and the Rhino recovering at Lambert. Interesting enough, the Rhino was based off Boeing’s flight ramp but the actual aircraft itself was not one of Boeing’s but from VFA-122, and there was no back-up bird either. Overall all performers did an amazing job with the tight air box of the Riverfront, and caused plenty of traffic jams over the bridge from distracted drivers. I hope the show returns next summer, this time with ACC/Naval support (Follow the Marine Way Guys).
Complete List of Performers (None of the shows had them all performing at once)
Update: I DID NOT take this picture above. It was released to public domain
from a news wire.