A number of them spanning more than fifty years occur to me in no particular order.
• About 1948/49 a Flying wing. Either a YB
-35 or YB
-49, my memory is not that good. A few hundred miles from Muroc, so evidently on a cross-country.
• About 1952/53 a huge formation of B-36s. Vees of three, cells of six, a total, to the best of our recollection of thirty six of them at about a thousand feet, southbound down the northern California coast. Awesome! The original aluminum overcast.
• About 1953, and again in about 1959, US Navy Blimps, southbound along the northern California coast at low level.
• 1965 over Fort Ord California - an XB-70 in a big turn back toward EDW
. My whole basic training platoon saw it and I'm sure glad we had just been given the "rest" command because we all would have stared at it no matter what.
• Yesterday - John Travolta's B-707 over the Reno Air Races. Notable only because they only made one pass and it appeared to be more than a thousand feet up. Not up to Reno standards!
• About 1963, a flyUNDER
. I was on top a seastack off northern California and a Navy P-2V Neptune went by about a hundred feet below us.
• 1966 standing atop Halfdome in Yosemite and a flight of Navy F-8 Crusaders went by a thousand feet below us, over Mirror Lake.
• About 1961, NorCal again, a pair of AD
, Skyraiders were coasting in and just as they approached the top of the first ridge of the coast range, an A-4 Skyhawk overtook them from behind and buzzed them upside-down. Kind of busted up their formation for a moment.
• 1957, Tonopah Nevada: Sputnik I. It was the only thing in orbit, it had to be Sputnik. We saw it just after sunset, a bright spot of reflected sunlight. Satellites look about the same today.
• 1965, Fort Rucker Alabama: A Grumman OV
-1 Mohawk, as a friend used to say "between the tarpaper and the roof." It was an overcast day and he was scud-running; headed for Cairns AAF
"special VFR" instead of popping up IFR and doing an approach. The whole event took less than a second.
• A few years ago, also at the Reno Air Races: The B-2 bomber. I've never seen the jaded Reno crowd so affected by a flyby. They fell absolutely silent. Most forgot to take video.
• Any graduation day at Fort Rucker back in the 60s. Formations of as many as a hundred Hueys over the main post, the golf course and headquarters.
• About 1954 or so, a small USAF
radar base: A flyby of two (presumably CA
ANG) F-51s. These were not the last Mustangs I ever saw that were military, that honor goes to a Cavalier Mustang used by the US Army as a chase plane in the late 1960s, but these were the last that had never been anything but Air Force fighters. I've probably had twenty P-51s perform a hundred flyover at my house in the past week but this is still memorable.
• About 1987, Beale AFB: An SR
-71 did a supersonic pass at 15000' but we still got a pretty good sonic boom.
These are the really memorable ones out of a lifetime of watching airplanes. My first military airshow was Hamilton AFB in about 1958, and hundreds since Having attended the Reno Air Races, not just the scheduled events but the whole week including arrival and departure days almost every single year since 1970 I've seen literally thousands of fly-bys that would be memorable by themselves but there are just so many...
Spitfire, Sea Fury, Me-109, Mig 15.17/21
P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-63,
A-1E, A-4, A-6, A-7, AV
F-84, F-86, F-89, F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-111, F-117, F-22
, F-8F, Corsair, FJ
-4 Fury, F-8 Crusader,
-ll, T-28, T-33, T-38, T-41, T-42
-58, UH-1, UH-19, CH
B-17, B-23, B-24, B-25, B-26, B-29, B-36, B-47, B-50, B-52, B-1, B-2
, C-17, C-47, C-119, C-121, C-123, C-124, C-130, C-131, C-133, C-141, CV
Grumman Duck, Widgeon, Mallard, Albatros
DC-8, DC-9, B-727, B-737, B-707, B-247
Curtiss pusher, Benson gyrocopter, GeeBee replica, Stearman, N3N, Staggerwing Beech, Spartan Executive, Lockheed 10, Various "Japanese" fighters made from T-6 and others, BD
-5, Temco SuperPinto, PBY "Calypso II
" flown by Philippe Cousteau, Spirit of St. Louis replica flown by Paul Poberezny, hand-built racing planes like The Pond Racer and Tsunami, too many to remember them all.
edit: Add this, as I clicked to post this, a pair of F-4 Phantoms flew by outside my window on way to their farewell pass at the Races.
[Edited 2006-09-18 19:04:39]
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.