Point Mugu Air Show Takes Flight

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Photo by Steve Geldman.

The two-day event brings thousands of all ages together for air performances and ground-based displays

With cameras, phones, and binoculars on hand, adults and children of all ages waited to capture a dual-premiere demonstration by the two U.S. armed forces flying teams, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, for the first show of 2023.

With an overcast forecast on Saturday, some audience members were caught off guard after some aircraft flew over them. Their first response was, “They just came out of nowhere.” 

Established in 1960, The Point Mugu Air Show was an opportunity to show the community what Point Mugu does and introduce them to the continuing innovations in aviation.

The air show celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Navy at Point Mugu (NAWC). The March event marked the first Point Mugu Air Show since 2018.

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Photo by Steve Geldman.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of women participating in Naval aviation. In 1973, six female aviators got their wings after training in Pensacola.

This years event was predicted to have nearly 150,000 visitors. On the opening day, Saturday, March 18, it took visitors over an hour to enter, with the line stretching nearly a mile away. 

Upon entering, visitors were greeted with Thunderbird and Blue Angels merchandise as well as a few tents with fried food options. The air show also includes the Red Bull Sky Dive Team, civilian air performers and static aircraft displays.

For 77 years, the Blue Angels have showcased the teamwork and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country for nearly 500 million fans. The Blues showcase the mainstay of modern Naval air power operating off U.S. aircraft carriers, the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet, along with the Marine Corps’ premiere logistics support aircraft, the C-130J.

This year, the Thunderbirds gave Ventura County Teacher of the Year 2022 Shannon Klemann a VIP ride on an aircraft. 

Klemann is a biology teacher at Adolfo Camarillo High School and was one of the small group of teachers to revise the districts science curriculum over the last seven years. Her hands on teaching style and her passion for teaching have enriched the lives of so many students. 

Lt. Col. Edward “Ed” Reynolds attended the air show with the Wings over Wendy’s booth and presented photographs from former U.S. Navy photographer Larry Kushner.

“We primarily participate at the Camarillo air show and Aviation Career Days, and this is the first one here at Point Mugu,” Reynolds said. “It’s a big show, and yesterday was amazing with all the middle school kids, practicing for the base, and [we also] had a chance to talk to the Thunderbird commander.” 

Reynolds currently leads a Monday morning meeting for Wings Over Wendy’s, where over 300 veterans meet weekly at the Wendy’s Restaurant in West Hills, California.

Kushner served aboard USS Hancock CVA 19 from 1967 to 1968, and had some of his photographs on display.

“This is the time I’ve been here at Point Mugu and it’s a very large show and the military flyers put on a spectacular presentation. Their flying skills are really fantastic; I was told that they’ll be around 150,000 people today,” Kushner said. “I usually photograph the Camarillo Air Show, but this show is different because they have the high-performance aircraft here at Point Mugu, so it’s really a great show.” 

This year the event also honored Women’s History Month. 

The crowd received a demonstration from Vicky Benzing and her 1940 PT-17 Stearman. Benzing is known for her incredible aerobatic skills and for setting the record as “Fastest Woman Racer” ever at the Reno Air Races.

The Thunderbirds were flying high around 1 p.m. Saturday and have performed for people all around the world multiple times a year. They are known to display the pride, precision, and professionalism the U.S. Air Force represents. Through air shows and flyovers, they aim to excite and inspire. In addition to showcasing the elite skills all pilots must possess, the Thunderbirds demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter jet, the F-16 Fighting Falcon.