Maryland Fleet Week Airshow Day 2, October 7, 2018
I decided to head down to Baltimore to try and catch the airshow portion of the 2018 Fleet Week celebration. It was said it would be visible from the Ft. McHenry National Monument. The original game plan was to go on Saturday but work called and offered me a little overtime. So day two it was. I got off work at 8 in the morning, hopped in the car and I was parked in Baltimore by 10 AM.
A little back story. I was originally going to drive to Ft. McHenry, and park somewhere close by. Well after reading the Fleet Week Airshow FAQ’s, I bagged that idea and decided to take a water taxi over to the site. I pre-purchased parking at a lot 2 blocks from Fell’s Point which cost me $10 for the day. I also purchased the water-taxi ticket which was sent to my phone. It cost me $5 for the day. There was only about a dozen folks on the water taxi. It took around 20 minutes to get across the harbor and to the dock of the Fort. There was a basic security check point consisting of a bag check and a quick wand of the metal detector.
I had to hit the rest room, then I made a quick stop to the gift shop, followed by a stop in the parking lot. There was a bunch of food trucks and I was a hungry. $19 and an order of egg rolls, a Mexican wrap and a Coke and I was full.
I walked along the site and found the “SHOW CENTER”. There was a group of big lenses already by the fence on the right side of show center. It was nice to talk shop with the other photographers.
The site was not as crowded as it could be. The weather was was overcast and it was very humid. The forecast called for clearing later in the afternoon. I checked on Facebook on Saturday to see if I could find the best place to watch. That is where I learned where show center was. Two, that is where I learned the weather was pretty crappy. In fact it was so crappy that the Thunderbirds could not perform.
Fast forward to Sunday and the show start time. The Black Daggers, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) parachute demonstration team were to open the show, but had to cancel due to safety concerns.
The atmospheric conditions along with the fact that most of the show was performed facing the sun made photography a challenge. I did manage to snap some ok shots but they were nowhere near the caliber I was hoping for. On the plus side there was a ton of vapor shots on the jet aircraft.
We had unscheduled visitor, it was a Navy MH-60S which must of been doing some official business but it was still nice to see our Military hardware in an operational role.
The Maryland Fleet Week Airshow started off with the Canadian National Anthem, followed by the Star Spangled Banner.
The Baltimore County Police Department helicopter:
The Baltimore City Police Department helicopter:
The Baltimore City Fire Department fire boat:
A Flyby with a C5-M SuperGalaxy from Dover AFB, DE :
Yes, I actually screwed this shot up but it looked so cool that I went with it.
GEICO Skywriters vs. MISS GEICO speedboat:
The speed boat hit speeds in the 190mph range.
The Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 demo team:
The CF-18 demo was great, there were Vapor trails, pretty much every pass. The pilot was very talented, I really wished I had better light to capture their performance.
Air Combat Command A-10C Thunderbolt II Demo Team:
This was my first time seeing the A-10 Demo Team. The pilot did a great job, and their social media crew used some of my photos.
A-10 / P-51 Heritage Flight:
This was the highlight of the show for me. Anytime I can see an old warbird fly I get all giddy. I did snap some ok shots, which were composed well but the light wasn’t. Anyway in one of the shots you can see the reflection of the P-51 on the A-10. Yes they polish those planes and it shows.
Unite States Coast Guard Helicopter rescue demonstration:
The United States Coast Guard MH-65 out of Air Station Atlantic City performed a simulated rescue.
Scott Francis and his MX/MXS aircraft:
Scott Francis and his MX/MXS airplane. What can I say, Scott is a master of energy and it is amazing to watch him show off his craft.
United States Air Force Thunderbirds:
The headliner was the USAF Thunderbirds. This was my third time seeing them this season. Again they put a great show but half the show was in direct sun, so most pictures were taken going to the left
Once the show was over it was a mad dash to get to the dock for the water taxi. It took me around 45 minutes to board a water taxi. It was a fairly orderly, there were just that many people. Once docked it took five minutes to get to my car. Two and a half hours later (there was an accident on I95) and I was home.
Takeaways from the 2018 Maryland Fleet Week Airshow:
Parking at Fells Point and taking the water taxi was a good call, even if the return trip had a 45 minute wait.
There really isn’t a need to get to Fort McHenry too early. An hour before the Fleet Week Airshow starts will ensure you get a decent seat.
Bring a folding chair, plenty of bottled water and a bag lunch if you don’t want to spend a ton of money at the vendor trucks
Photography will be so-so due to the show center staring directly in to noon / early afternoon sun.
In all reality organizers didn’t promote the air show like they should of. It would of been real easy to say the Fleet Week Airshow is at Fort McHenry and you may catch glimpses at other sites. For example if you were at the Inner Harbor you might of seen the Thunderbirds once or twice but you would of missed most of the show. Actually the best view was probably had by those out in the harbor on private boats. The had a full view of the show and good lighting for photography.
Anyway, if there is a 2020 Fleet Week Airshow I will be there because it was still a good time even with the minuses.