Jacksonville’s Muggy and Mystifying 2019 Sea and Sky Spectacular Air Show
Ever since I can remember, I have loved planes. In fact, it was my love of aviation that brought me from my childhood home in New England to Florida back in the late 90’s to study to be a pilot. So, it should come as no surprise that I love air shows. One of my earliest memories is standing atop a hill overlooking Pease Air Force Base (now Pease Tradeport) as one of the Thunderbirds flew right over my head – seemingly just a few feet above me. There is just something about an air show – the raw power of the planes, the almost superhuman skill of the pilots, and then there’s the back-to-back death defying feats on display for all to see. Its no wonder that even the threat of rain couldn’t keep out the crowds for the 2019 Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular this past weekend. Here’s just a taste of the sights from this weekend, and be sure to check out our full gallery for many, many more fine art images from the air show.
Not unlike the traveling circuses that crisscrossed America in the Nineteenth Century, the air show draws people from far and wide; the roar of jet engines like the siren’s call, beckoning us to look up from the everyday to the skies above. And its no wonder – over the last 100 years, aviation has come a long way – from the first fits and jumps along the dunes of Kitty Hawk to cutting-edge modern marvels like the F-35B, which can take off vertically and hover like a helicopter, yet accelerate to 1.5 times the speed of sound in a matter of moments. You can see this evolution of history and innovation in the two images above – the radial-engined GEICO Skytypers in their World War II-era SNJ-2 trainers above the modern supersonic F/A-18 jets, emblazoned with the iconic blue and gold of the Navy’s Blue Angels.
This year, we had the chance to be out during both the Friday practice and the Sunday performance. The weather was hit and miss all weekend, with Tropical Storm Olga’s impact being felt as bands of bands of associated weather moved through the First Coast. Though I miss not having the static displays, the variety of aircraft that took to the skies this weekend was exceptional – including not only a P-51D, but the much more rare P-51C flown so successfully by the Tuskegee Airmen, an F4U Corsair, the GEICO Skytypers and Aeroshell Aerobatic teams – and of course, what air show in a Navy town would be complete without a stellar show by the Blue Angels.
The Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular air show was the first opportunity I had to try out our new Canon 500mm f4L lens on aircraft – and it was also the first time I saw firsthand (and photographed) the illusive transonic cone, formed by an aircraft as it approaches the speed of sound. As an aviation nut, this has been a bucket list photo for me, and thanks to some particularly marginal weather and a fast-moving F-35, I was able to capture a series of cone images, like the one below, as the transonic cone blinked in and out of existence as the aircraft passed through particularly dense bits of air.
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