Text & Pictures: Chris Tonthat (an i2i Production) ©sbap 2021
 

The first weekend of October 2021 promised aircraft of all types to converge upon KEFD for the Wings Over Houston Airshow. Two major demonstration teams, The USAF Thunderbirds and RCAF Snowbirds, were the stars of the show along with a host of other actions. This was the first time in two years that in-person attendance was allowed with feet on the ground. People came from all over to enjoy the airshow on this warm (maybe too warm) October weekend.

New this year was a Friday afternoon drive-in show in addition to the scheduled Saturday and Sunday events. With limited tickets available, a small area along the ramp was set up for cars to park and view the airshow. Each car was directed to a random spot where occupants were allowed to picnic and enjoy the flying within the given space. Unfortunately the airshow organizer set up large VIP tents in front of the parking area blocking many of the flying actions, especially the low passes. Hopefully the organizer will improve on this next year. In the meantime, photographers stuck with the tent view slowly wandered beyond their given parking spaces to find better locations to get better shots. Perhaps at one point, all photographers found their way to the only open area with the best photo opportunity for the remainder of the afternoon show. With the sun in the back, the lighting was absolutely beautiful!

Before the afternoon event, I started the morning scouting for locations around the airport perimeter to catch the practice session and aircraft arrival along with fellow photographers.

The wind was relatively calm to allow aircraft to take off and land in either direction of the runway, but the tower kept switching the direction - almost like they were having fun watching us photographers running around the airport. Some took a chance in moving from one end to the other while some stayed put in one location. I am sure we all got some good shots and I am positive we all missed some great opportunities, but that was all a part of the game.

Saturday was another nice and warm day to start the official airshow weekend. Unfortunately with prior commitments, I was only able to catch some of the afternoon flying from a nearby park where the performers used the sky above to transition between passes. It was definitely not show center but it's always good to experience the aerial display from a unique point of view. It just goes to show that you don't always have to have the best seat in the house to enjoy and get some nice shots of the flying. Options are always good to keep the trigger finger satisfied!

Have a look and enjoy some of the actions from Wings Over Houston 2021!

 
Snowbirds in action with the Condor formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The Eagle formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Three-ship formation sneaking from behind the crowd
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Four-ship Inverted Split formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Connecting at the bottom of the heart loop
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Two-on-two encounter
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
One-on-one encounter
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Two-ship barrel rolling against each other
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Double-Diamond formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Big Delta head-on shot
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Big Vic loop
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Big Vic formation in straight-and-level flight
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Snowbirds bursting downward
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
#10 Snowbird flyby
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Dyess AFB C-130J-30 Super Hercules from 317th Airlift Wing used to transport the USAF Thunderbirds support team
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
C-17A taking off
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The Moose can climb!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
US Navy E-6 Mercury
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Mercury was stuck being too big to pass through show center setup
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Growler from VAQ-209 'Star Warriors'
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Growlers in traffic fam behind the Mercury
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Star Warriors discussing how to pass the stuck Mercury
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
CAG bird 'Vader'
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Growlers approach to KEFD
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Rhino pulling a few Gs
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Rhino going fast but not furious enough to break Mach 1
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The RIO smiling under the mask for the camera
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A Super Hornet landing
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The tail end that pushes the Rhino through the air
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A detailed look
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Mig-15 soaring up into the wild blue yonder
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Passing a few hundred feet directly above
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A 1950 vintage Mig-15
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
PBJ-1J Mitchell
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Heading north toward the action
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Devil Dog' Mitchell representing VMB-612 of the USMC
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Douglas A-26C Invader 
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
On londing approach from the south
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Short Stuff' is the nickname of the N26BP
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Wildcat coming in for a landing from the north
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
P-40E representing Colonel David Lee "Tex" Hill's Warhawk
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Warhawk of the famed AVG Flying Tigers
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Shangri-La Mustang
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Replica post-war-tour P-51D assigned to WW II ace, Captain Don S. Gentile
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
P-63F Kingcobra
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Only two P-63F were ever built by Bell Aircraft and this is the sole survivor...
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Spitfire LF Mk IXc MK959
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A beautiful sight in the air
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
B-17G simulating distressed flying from battle damage
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Bombay doors opened and ready to unload...
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
What else can look better than the iconic Flying Fortress?
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Friendlies at 2 o'clock high!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Texas Raiders' safely on the ground after the demonstration
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" players getting ready to start the battle over Pearl Harbor
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Replica "Val" and "Kate"
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Two more variations of "Kate"
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Kates dominating the attack while a "Zero" is derailed from the fight
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Kate and replica P-36 mixing it up. The P-36s scored two Zeros on Dec. 7th!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Another Zero simulating battle damage
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
F-22A Raptor
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
In full afterburner
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Run if a Raptor is coming at you like this!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)

A golden Raptor
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Reflecting the golden hours
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The motto says it all...Death With Finesse
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
USAF Heritage Flight
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Mustang and Raptor
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Representing the best of the best of each generation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Gen5 stealth fighter taxiing after the demonstration
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Looking for a stealthy parking spot
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Coming to a full stop as directed by the ground crew
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Thunderbirds performance while being recorded by a chase aircraft
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Initiating the Cloverloop Opener
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Recovering from Cloverloop Opener
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)

#5 coming straight for me!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Tight Diamond formation and Calypso pass by the solos
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Echelon pass carefully followed by the chase aircraft
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The solos executing the Opposing Inverted pass
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Initiating the loop in the Delta formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Not far behind is the chase aircraft
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Coming out of the loop
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The solos are having fun!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Doing the Delta Roll formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The Line Break loop as observed by the chase aircraft
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Reflection pass
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Coming out of the Diamond loop
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
There is the chase aircraft again...
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)

Diamond Pass in Review formation
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Bomb Burst with #2 recovering from the dive
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
The last one to come in for the landing
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
  

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