The T'birds came around and practiced twice, once around 7:45 and the other around 2.
The one at 7:45 was a lot weaker, almost like a warm-up. They kept flying north and south and didn't hit the afterburners too much. They flew between the mountain and the chapel quite a bit too.
The show at 2 was somewhat better. They performed more aerial stunts, although I will admit it still seemed pretty weak. Weather started getting worse, so maybe that played a part in some of the stuff they did.
Towards the end of the 7:45 practice though, they came ripping full afterburner about 100 feet right over me. What a feeling!
You should have sat in parade field stands at least for the parade, or been over by the chapel overlook. There was a DA-20 (like a cessna), C-21, a 4 ship of A-10's, 2 ship of F-16's and then the F/A-22 with the F-16 in trail. The F/A-22 used the thrust vectoring after passing over the field, and then hit the burners and climbed.
Also, between the parade flyover and photography flyover the F/A-22 and F-16 were refueled overhead by a KC
The F/A-22 then flewover the Academy again like 6 times followed by the T'bird F-16, alternating north and south, for photography purposes. This is the first time the F/A-22 has ever flown over the Academy.
Lighting would have probably been bad for all of these though, except for the 7:45 practice. Seems like awesome shots with the chapel and T'birds in the background would have been possible.
If you guys are coming out tomorrow, I'd recommend getting here early as the President will be here and it may be a mess (even though he's flying in via helicopter). Also, I believe the shoulders to I-25 are going to be closed off, as might the viewing area off of 25, so factor that in.
There's also supposed to be anti-Bush protestors at the South Gate, and pro-Bush ralliers at the North Gate.
On normal days, the north gate is open to the public from 0630-1830, but because of graduation, and the President being here, it may be only open to those holding military ID
's. If it's open you'll only be able to make it as far as the Visitors Center. You can park there and walk to the cadet chapel where there is an overlook of the Cadet Area. You may be able to get some good shots there.
There is also an overlook north of the academy (keep going straight on the North Gate road) that is elevated and looks over the whole Cadet Area etc.. May be able to get some head on shots there if the sun isn't an issue.
I dunno how the show will be tommorrow. I imagine most of it will be over Falcon stadium, so if you don't have a ticket to graduation, you may be out of luck. That being said, a lot of the turnaround and "re-formations" will be over the springs and the rest of the Academy, so you may still be able to get good shots.
If you guys had posted this thread a little earlier or something, I probably would have been able to hook you up with graduation tickets, or get you into Falcon Stadium today. If any of you are planning to hang out by the chapel or anything, lemme know. I've got prior commitment till about 12, but may go watch em from there around 1...