THREE COAST AVIATION
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in southern Arizona is a wonderful place for an air show. Yuma is the sunniest place in the United States averaging 242 days of sunshine each year, 31 more than the next closest city, Phoenix. The base is home to an incredible assortment of aircraft including AV-8B Harriers and F-35B Lightnings of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, a variety of rotor wing aircraft operated by Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) and the F-5N Tigers of VMFT-401, the only adversary squadron in the Marine Corps. In typical Marine fashion they love to put on a high quality show, displaying all of their mission capabilities when the base is opened annually to the public. Impressive static displays are dotted with squadron memorabilia booths and a compact but impressive flying display that starts early which is beneficial for photography as the morning lighting conditions are the most ideal. There is also a Friday night evening show offering opportunities for sunset shots and glowing afterburners in the fading late winter light. The organization of everything, from parking to the flow of the aerial performances is terrific, exactly what you would expect from the Marines.
Yuma delivered exactly what I was hoping to see. The Harrier, Lightning and Osprey provided incredible angles during their Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) performances while the morning light was still favourable and the sky hadn't clouded over. The formations of helicopters and adversary F-5N's were not always camera friendly but they displayed wonderfully for the crowd and it was nice to see the sunset performance of the Search and Rescue Huey. My single day at the show meant I was not able to enjoy the Friday evening twilight show but I hope to rectify that in the future as this event will become a regular on my annual air show calendar.