Story and photos by Frank Lorey III


                The three-day Ramona Air Fair drew thousands of people into San Diego’s back country for the show’s ninth annual event.  Held at the small-town Ramona Airport, the show benefits the families of aerial firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

            Not surprisingly, Ramona is the home of one of the California Division of Forestry aerial attack bases.  A few years ago, one of the fire spotter aircraft collided with an air tanker on approach to the base, killing all on board the tow aircraft and scattering wreckage just short of the runway.

            This year, much of the emphasis was placed on hot air balloons, with many launches during the show and nightly displays of the ballons in “night glow."  Each day featured flying demonstrations of aircraft, including the CDF OV-10 Bronco spotter plane and two S-2 Tracker fast attack fire bombers.

            Helicopters of the Classic Rotors museum were also on display and did some flying during the show.  Other aircraft on display included Duncan Reynold’s replica 1929 Great Lakes trainer, a Yak-52, a Varieze, and the F8F Bearcat from the Commemorative Air Force Camarillo chapter.

            Rides were available in the balloons, several Stearman biplanes, and the Trimotor Air Tour’s replica Ford Trimotor out of Fullerton.  Performances were turned in by Jon Nash’s Zivko Edge, an Interstate, and Su-29 aerobatics.

            Chuck Hall’s P-51 Mustang “Six Shooter” flew with Bob Grondzik’s Skyraider, and other demonstration flights included an L-19 “Bird Dog” observation plane, along with several SNJ Texans including “War Dog” flown by John Collver.

            One of the highlights was World War II B-25 Mitchell “Pacific Princess”, an aircraft used in the recent movie “Pearl Harbor.”  When the aircraft was being refueled, a kitten was found underneath it.  The wayward kitten was given the name “Mitchell” and was adopted by an airshow visitor.

            The show concluded this year with an unusual fly-by featuring four ex-Soviet L-29 Delphin jets of the “Thunder Delphins” flight demonstration team following Grondzik’s Skyraider—a prop plane pacing the jets.  As they flew off into the sunset, visitors were already looking forward to next year’s event.



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All images on this page are Copyright 2002-2005 Frank Lorrey or Don V Black
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