2018 Blue Angels and the Rhode Island Airshow (June 9 and 10)

The Rhode Island Airshow was held at the Quonset Point State Airport in North Kingston during the first week of June. A range of air demonstrations were on show including the USN Blue Angels and the USAF F-35 Heritage Flight Team. This blog is about my experience over this airshow weekend. Hope you like the photos.


2018 RI (DLY_7764)Left Boston around 7.30 am and arrived at the Quonset Point State Airport a couple of hours later. Upon arriving at the car park, put together my camera gear for this photo shoot since you are not able to take backpacks into the airshow. Mounted a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and 1.4x II extender to one of Canon 1DXII camera bodies, which gave me a maximum focal length of about 300mm. This set-up would be mainly used for taking photos of the air demonstrations. To the other Canon 1DXII, mounted a Canon 35mm f/1.4L II which would be used mainly for static plane photos. Also took a small waist belt fanny pack to carry a spare battery, snacks, water etc. Upon entering the airshow, headed over to the Lockheed C-130 Hercules static display.

2018 RI (DLY_7778)As I was walking around the tarmac, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet caught my eye. Also noticed the beautiful cloud formation over the plane. So decided to compose a photo which included the top part of the F/A-18, with the blue sky and white clouds above.

2018 RI (DLY_7792)A Douglas DC-3 set against a blue sky.

2018 RI (DLY_7799)One of the vertical tails of a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was made famous in the movie Top Gun. This particular example is from the Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) “Grim Reapers”.

2018 RI (DLY_7807)Decided to head to the flight line area to get my bearings and think about where to stand for the air demonstrations. Parked near the flight line was a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, which would give an aerial demonstration later in the day.

2018 RI (A86I1282)The aerial demonstrations started around 11.00 am, with the Naval Academy Jump Team, followed by Mark Murphy in a P51 Mustang. At about 11.15 am, Greg “Wired” Colyer took to the skies in the Lockheed T-33 Ace Maker. This training jet was also known as the Shooting Star or T-Bird. One of my goals for this photo shoot was to try to be different. This meant not focusing on getting the standard tight plane photos, but to shoot wider to get photographs of the plane in the context of its surroundings. So looked around for a location where I could compose a photo with the spectators in the foreground and plane in the background, which meant being away from the flight line. The photograph above was taken with the 70-200mm lens at a focal length of about 100mm. For panning, a shutter speed of 1/20 sec was used to partially blur the spectators. The photo was processed in black and white in order to set the mood for when the T-33 was first in active service during the mid-1940s.

2018 RI (A86I1412)At 11.30am the Shockwave Jet Truck made a thunderous entrance. This truck is powered by three J34-48 Pratt & Whitney jet engines, with a combined horsepower of 36,000, that propels the truck to speeds over 350mph. Very impressive.

2018 RI (A86I1513)Walked to the far end of the spectator part of the tarmac and saw a Blue Angel up close.

2018 RI (A86I1621)The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aerial demonstration started around 12.35 pm.

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2018 RI (A86I1663)Next up around 12.55 pm was the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Heritage Demo with a North American P-51 Mustang. After the heritage demonstration, the full power of the F-35 was displayed during is solo demonstration. This was the first time I’d seen the F-35 in real life and was awed by the design and performance of this fifth generation fighter. Was really cool to see the F-35 light its afterburner and within seconds, disappear into the sky above.

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2018 RI (A86I1860)Next up was the WWII era Vought F4U Corsair.

2018 RI (A86I1902)Sean D. Tucker did some amazing aerobatics in the Oracle Challenger III biplane. Here’s a shot of Sean D Tucker speeding low across the tarmac to cut a ribbon.

At 2.15 pm, the USN Blue Angels took off from the tarmac. Blue Angels number one.

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2018 RI (A86I2054)Was great watching the Blue Angels perform their amazing aerial demonstration. Always amazed at how close the Blue Angels one to four fly to each other.


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Stayed at Rhode Island overnight so could arrive early at the airshow. As I was walking around the tarmac for static plane photographs, the New England Patriots Superbowl livery caught my eye on the nose of the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker.

2018 RI (A86I2099)Walked by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and got up close with the shark jaw livery on the nose of the aircraft.

2018 RI (DLY_7913)The Lockheed T-33 Ace Maker captured at 1/10 sec as it speeds over the spectators below.

2018 RI (DLY_8015)At speed with the Shockwave Jet Truck.

2018 RI (DLY_7995)With the large crowd at the airshow it was hard to get a clear view of the flight line. So took advantage of this by panning at a slow shutter speed of 1/5 sec and used the spectators in front of me for a colorful foreground. The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon moving past spectators after its air demonstration.

2018 RI (DLY_8130)Was really cool to see the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules swoop in from show center right after dropping its payload.

2018 RI (DLY_8401)Had to leave to leave the airshow early and wan’t able to stay for the USN Blue Angels. However, couldn’t think of a better way to end this blog then showing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II with afterburners on and speeding away into the distance.

Had a great time at the Rhode Island Show. Many thanks to the staff and volunteers for all their help. Thanks for reading this blog.

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