Point Mugu Air Show: Thunderbirds and Blue Angels

By Robert Bernstein

While I am generally a man of peace, I love airplanes, even if they are warplanes. And they do occasionally come in handy. So, we were happy to hear that the Point Mugu Air Show was happening again after being shut down for three years. Especially given that they were featuring both of the premier performers in the world: The US Air Force Thunderbirds and The US Navy Blue Angels. Either one would be worth a trip to see.

I was dreading the traffic, but it turned out we got into a mess before we even got close. Between Carpinteria and Ventura, Highway 101 was closed from three lanes to two lanes. There is no alternate route. We crawled for about an hour to cover what should have taken five minutes. It would not have been so bad, except that we could see that there was zero actual work being done on the closed lanes. Does anyone know how long this is going to continue and if there is any legitimate reason for it?

But then we got into the air show traffic on Highway 1. It was still 90 minutes before show time, but it was not moving at all.

Fortunately, there was a dirt median at this spot where we were stuck. We turned back, across the dirt, and parked on a nearby road in front of a strawberry farm. We started walking, figuring we could at least see part of the show from there. In fact, we soon got to see Vicky Benzing performer in her Stearman biplane.

From her bio: “Born and raised in California, Vicky Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer. With over 9500 hours of flight time and over 1300 parachute jumps, Vicky has a passion for everything airborne. Her flying career has spanned over forty years and she currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders.”

After walking about a mile, we encountered some uniformed people from Point Mugu. They said it was just a half mile further, so we decided to keep walking. There must have been some misunderstanding about what “it” was that was just a half mile further. It was actually four miles to get to the show. And it had already started. But it turned out to be worth it. Because much of the action happens close to the ground and you need to be close. There is also a narrator explaining everything.

Here four Thunderbirds were in amazingly tight formation:

Then two of them headed straight for each other and just barely missed. It is at the very start of this clip and is almost too fast to see! So, I slowed it down 16x and repeated that bit in slow motion.

Here five Thunderbirds started out upside down and slowly looped above us.

Here all six Thunderbirds did a series of loops and ended this clip in a perfect split.

In between the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels were some other performances. This was a C130J cargo plane coming in nice and close for us.

This was a World War II “War Dog”.

Before the Blue Angels big show, they flew their own Blue Angels C130 cargo plane they call “Fat Albert”.

We then got to see the Blue Angels pilots get into their cockpits.

Soon they were in the air doing amazing stunts. Here is one of many head on “near misses” (shouldn’t they be “near hits”?) including a 1/4 speed slow motion repeat.

Here four Blue Angels split. Later, two came around for a head on near miss. I repeat at 1/16 speed slow motion.

Here four Blue Angels came in together. Two flip upside down. Then they came over us in tight formation.

Here four Blue Angels came close above us in tight formation.

These four came in right over us in tight formation and did a tight roll.

Here all six Blue Angels split into two groups of three and did a near miss in front of us.

We were then treated to all six Blue Angels doing a perfect “Delta Break Out” coming straight towards us for a memorable view and grand finale.

After that, people were rushing to the exits. Some who had been there since the gates opened at 8AM left during the Blue Angels show! We paused to pose with some of the aircraft.

We then made the four mile trek back to the strawberry field where we were grateful our car was still safe and sound. It was a lot of walking, but it was still probably faster and less stressful than sitting in traffic that entire time. I am guessing that many of the people stuck in that parking lot on Highway 1 did not get into the show.

Here was the strawberry field where we parked. It was sad to see so many that had been damaged by our recent extreme weather.

Here is the full program of the show:

Here are all of my photos. Here are all of my videos, and I may add some more. And here is the official Point Mugu Air Show site, but it is a bit difficult to navigate.


Written by sbrobert

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


    • Stories and brains indeed seem to go together, TAGDES. One of my early MOJO articles invited people to try to deal more with facts than stories. But brains seem wired for stories. Thanks for the correction about the Long-billed Curlews and thank you for the kind words about Ashleigh and me! He is a dear friend and I am honored to share the page with him so often! Yes, getting to and from the air show was half the story!

    • Robert, I had a brain fade, but thanks to the mnemonic I corrected the bird pics. They’re Long-billed Curlews, I’d been writing my list for my upcoming Phoenix trip needing the Curve-billed Thrasher and a couple of others. I also liked that you added the various shots of the area to make a story out of it like you and Ashleigh do at the MJ.

  1. Curlews. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for taking the time to look at my other photos, TAGDES. I remember the mnemonic that if the bill is curled it is a curlew.
    SACJON and JOHN WILEY thank you for the kind words. I feel bad that you did not get inside, JOHN WILEY, as I know you are the biggest air guy here. Glad that you were able to appreciate the event through my videos and photos. And thank you for the encouragement to take an introductory flight. I very much appreciate your aerial posts.
    One thing that was a bit unsettling for my wife and me: I saw a guy with a Proud Boys t-shirt. My wife said she saw an entire tent selling t-shirts that had a similar feel. I feel that we are the true patriots, especially given the fact that the Proud Boys were involved in trying to overthrow the government two years ago.
    This was not quite as bad, but it is also implying that if you don’t believe in a sky god you are not a true American. Sorry, not true. We are true Americans and proud secular humanists.
    It made my wife uncomfortable about attending another such event. I figure we are paying for this and we have a right to enjoy it! It was definitely fun to watch! Thank you all again for the kind words.

  2. Kudos Robert, on your great shots given the high clouds and low haze that had settled in by the time the Tbirds started, and how fast the aircraft were moving – especially close as you were there on the base! Thanks for sharing pix & vids of that amazing show. Your details about the freeway mess made me glad we’d decided to fly into Camarillo airport and hitch a ride “to” the show with relatives who live near there. The first route they tried was similarly jammed, moving 3 car lengths per 5 minutes, then they took another route that got us to the Hwy. 1 East entrance that was closed by then. I’m glad you made it on base, and found time to share that perspective with all of us stuck on the outskirts. As for your interest in aircraft, you might check out eaa.org and consider AirVenture – and Eagle Flights https://www.eaa.org/eaa/learn-to-fly/introductory-flights-for-free

March Edness 2023: Day 20, FINAL DAY

Op-Ed: Unreliable SpaceX Launch Schedule is Problematic