Davis Monthan Air Show

Every two years, Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson, AZ, puts on an air show. I happen live down the street from the base (almost literally!) and I’ve been able to go to three of the shows, so far, and it’s always a blast.

Davis Monthan is home to a bunch of Warthogs, with at least three A-10C squadrons: the 354th Bulldogs, the 357th Dragons, and the 358th Lobos. A-10Cs are kind of a big deal here, you might say, so it’s no surprise that a Warthog is conveniently placed at the public entrance to the air show.

One of the great things about static displays is that you get to get up close and personal with the aircraft - see things you might not be able to observe when they’re flying overhead. Such as this LED landing light on this Hawg.

Airshows are great for kids, too. Here my son, in his newly purchased favorite shirt, is checking out the aft end of an TGM-65.

And here’s a close up of the targeting pod, which should look very familiar to DCS fliers out there.

The static displays this year consisted of a lot of units - too many to show photos of each.

Another “severe clear” day in Tucson, AZ.

This C-130 is heavily modified to support Blackhawks in the CSAR role.

Looks like this Predator has been … caught.

The technology inside this little ball is amazing. It even has TWO warning stickers on it! Serious stuff.

Not all the displays were strictly aviation related, either.

Who’s the bomb? I’m the bomb.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety – our equivalent of most states’ Highway Patrol – had an impressive display this year, including this line of souped up vehicles.

What display of aviation technology history, present, and future would be complete without a series of jumping castles?


Getting up close to military hardware is always nice – getting to climb into the cockpit is a dream come true.

Unfortunately, everybody feels that way, and lines can get out of control.

Luckily we were there early, and got to see a few of the static displays before the lines got too bad. I don’t know about other airshows, but the crowds are very unpredictable. There maybe a 2 minute wait one moment and an hour wait just a little later. It’s a really strange phenomenon that would be interesting to study…if there weren’t so many shiny airplanes to look at, first.

My son demonstrating an advanced VRS escape technique … well, most of it. His feet can’t reach the rudderantitorque pedals.

The C-5 Super Galaxy is so large, it defies description. “Immense”, while an accurate description, doesn’t quite convey the behemothery of it. “Gargantuan”, “grandiose”, “gigantic”…all fall short of the mark. It’s just huge.

This image needs googly eyes photoshopped in and a loop going “nom, nom, nom…”

This aircraft can literally swallow a tank.

The aft end is as impressive as the front end. This aircraft was made to move stuff, a lot of it at a time.

Someone decided the aircrew needed a sunroof.

Those leading slats look about the size of our minivan.

The B-1B bomber is always a crowd pleaser as well.

The extended wings of the B-1 has almost enough surface area to cover the line waiting to get up to the flight deck.

Here’s a targeting pod that the Falcon fliers should enjoy seeing.

The little strakes up front look like whiskers the Bone uses during it’s low-level high speed ingress to the target.

Fully articulated nozzle.

The aft bomb bay has a spindle that selects and ejects stores like a vending machine: a highly advanced, incredibly expensive, and quite deadly vending machine.


There are numerous vendors on-site as well, most of them selling shirts, patches, hats, toys, and trinkets in support of one effort or another. The various squadrons at DM had vendor booths as well as outfits like the Disabled American Veterans group, the Army, Marines, etc. But most of the vendors are selling junk at ridiculous prices.

This particular outfit sells “simulator rides” for $10 a seat. The “simulator” is a sweaty box with two seats and a monitor up front showing a video made with 1990’s technology backed by a kitchy soundtrack while spinning you around the roll axis in no apparent relation to what’s happening on the screen. I nearly threw up - not from the vertigo, but from the realization I paid $20 for me and my son to ride this thing. Ergh.

Here was a “Safe Driving Simulator” booth that was getting no love. Seriously, what’s not to love about learning to drive safely? We get nitro boost and rockets while learning to drive safe, right?

One quite reputable organization at the vendor line was the DAV organization. They are a non-profit organization that focuses on ensuring disabled veterans and their family are able to continue to live their lives. I was fortunate enough to be selected to ride in their B-25 bomber pictured above along with war hero retired USAF Colonel Richard Bushong.

Further down the flight line from the big aircraft, numerous smaller aircraft were on display under shade-friendly shelters.

The F-35 may have a cloud of controversy around it, but it is still one sexy aircraft.


I am always impressed at the sheer size of the F-15. Sure, it’s no C-5 Super Galaxy, but it has a strong presence.

The Eagle’s 20mm cannon is almost hidden in the right wing root. Sneaky, sneaky.

I think I love the Osprey because, in a way, it represents myself. Just like me, the Osprey can’t decide if it wants to fly fixed wing, or rotary.

In walking around the CV-22 I found a few items that I couldn’t guess their function. Any Mudspiker’s have any input?

Looks almost like air inlets, but what an inefficient design. Why not just a flush air inlet? Is this an exhaust vent? Why all the complexity?

What is this probe? There are two, one on each side of the nose. There do not appear to be any holes, although it does appear to be heated for anti-ice protection. Is this a fancy angle-of-attack indicator?

I almost walked by this aircraft, thinking it was “merely” a T-38. Closer inspection showed it was an L-39ZA with an interesting payload on its chin.

You know you’re in a nice aircraft when the guns are chrome plated.

The stealth aircraft section of the static displays always seems to be under-appreciated.


Hopefully you didn’t see a “Made In China” one in there too…

Super photos. Love the rotary vending machine on the B-1. As for those probes on the Osprey…no idea. The fact that they don’t move makes me wonder if it is part of the air data computer…temperature probes or something…

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Of course, there were aerial displays for most of the day - starting at 10 and going for the rest of the show, with the Thunderbirds being the highlight event. Unfortunately, my camera doesn’t do any of the live action any justice, so I don’t have very many pics to share here.

A Harrier II showing off over the flight line. Impressive to see in person.

Warthogs always steal the show, for me.

Border patrol shows off their fancy Blackhawk and tactical deployment in a well done skit. I’m always very impressed with the pilot’s ability to maintain the hover and only wonder if there’s a Doppler-aided autopilot helping him/her out.

CJ-6s showing off some snappy formation flying.

Ooh! Warthogs!

I had to leave early for a friend’s kid’s birthday party – I know you parents out there are nodding your heads in sympathy – but there were the Thunderbirds, which I mentioned earlier, a couple aerobatic shows, parachuters, and the F-22 demo team, which I regret not being able to watch.

@Kombat_Karl made the road-trip out to Tucson for the show, and I’m hoping to hear his impressions of the even as well, maybe share a few better pictures of the aerial action. Unfortunately, the two of us weren’t able to meet up at the show, but there’s always next time!


@EinsteinEP My guess - and it is just that, a guess - is that’s the panel for chaff/flares.

Hey man,

this looks like a awesome day with a perfect weather.
My son like these events too and can`t wait till we move to denmark for the Aben Hede show.



According to page 8 of this pdf, it’s an avionics cooling air intake grille. Seems awfully complex for something that sucks in air. Maybe each of those swirly thingies are acutally fans?

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If you looked at the ec130h there you may have met some of my nav school buddies

Interesting. Black magic.

Black magic I say.

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DM was my first duty station,1982-1985 I worked every air show. The impressive rack and unit that drives the B1 bomb rack cost over $1 million back when they stationed them in Grand Forks AFB in 1987. I have an old friend that was on the design team for the Osprey, I’ll ask him about the strange vents though it does say Avionics Inlet next to them, also what the probes are.

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I made it out to the show, and got a few performance pics I’ll share when I get some time to get them off of my camera. It was definitely worth the road trip out, and I got to make the trip with some online Arma/Flight sim friends, so we got to do the whole meet-up in person thing, which is always nice after playing sims with each other for near to 4 years.

@EinsteinEP Bummed I missed you! I’m sure we probably passed each other a couple of times during the day. My phone was completely dead by the time we got there at about 11 (My fault), and honestly once I got in and looking around I was pretty distracted anyway…Maybe I’ll make it out to the next one. There’s always the Luke show coming up too… :smiley:

All in all it was a good show, the Tbirds made a good showing, even with one pilot out sick/injured/hungover, the display was stunning, especially for a first timer.

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Here’s some pics I got.