California Capital Airshow
Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow takes place at the beginning of each fall at the Mather Airport just southeast of Sacramento. Mather Field/Air Force Base served as a military installation from 1918 until 1993 and was home to an incredible assortment of aircraft starting with the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny at the end of World War I, B-25 Mitchells during World War II, and B-52 Stratofortresses and KC-135 Stratotankers during the Cold War.
The show has the benefit of being located close to a terrific variety of bases in California as well as warbirds. Unfortunately, the main runway is a fair distance from the crowd and the weekend show is harshly backlit, making photography less than ideal. In 2021 the event included a Friday evening show for the first time.
I was only able to attend the Friday evening show but based on the lighting conditions on Friday vs the weekend, it was easily the best choice for photography. The show has such a wonderful benefit of drawing aircraft from local bases and museums, and featured military aircraft from Beale, Fallon, Fresno, Lemoore, Travis and Ventura County as well as official demonstrations by the CF-18, F-22 and EA-18Gs. There were also displays from the Planes of Fame Museum including their P-38H Lightning that was part of the Heritage Flight with the Raptor and the two-ship display by the F-86F Sabre and MiG-15bis.
It's hard to pick a highlight from such an action packed lineup that had incredible light and the moon as a backdrop, but the pair of F-15s from the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard stole the show with their collection of passes that included a wonderful amount of afterburner.