Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu opened its gates to host the installations first Air Show in eight years, exciting crowds with the rare opportunity to witness the top two demonstration teams in the world at the same venue, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, Mar. 17-19.
“This was a unique Air Show,” said Maj. Josh Soltan, U.S. Marine Corps, “Fat Albert” C-130 pilot, The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. “This was a the only joint operation show of the season that includes the U.S. Air Force working with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to bring the services together and represent our mission to the local community. It was an honor to perform for the people of Ventura and hopefully we’ve inspired the next generation of pilots who will replace us.”
Capt. Robert “Barr” Kimnach III, commanding officer, NBVC stated this was a total “mission success.”
“It was an honor to host the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration teams and we are thankful for them and all the performers who gave our great community the “Super Bowl of Air Shows,”” said Kimnach. “Enjoying both teams, celebrating 50-years of women excelling in Naval Aviation and 2-days of sunshine between atmospheric rivers was a true gift for the Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles communities.”
The opening ceremony included the flight of the first all-women MH- 60S Sea Hawk pilots with the lead, Lt. Zoe McFarlane assigned to the “Merlins” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three, flying the National Ensign, followed by an all-women crew of the “Seahawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41. The National Anthem was performed by Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns, assigned to Navy Band Southwest and followed with the Blue Angels “Fat Albert” C-130J dropping the U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team “The Leap Frogs” over an excited crowd.
“Marking the 50th anniversary of women in Navy flight is a great milestone,” said McFarlane. “It was so special to fly for the Ventura community and I hope that our crew has inspired young girls to take interest in the tremendous opportunities the Navy has to offer.”
The Air Show was open to the public and attended by 205,000 civilians, volunteers and military personnel during the three-day event that featured aerial flight demonstrations, the Navy Parachute Demonstration Team “The Leap Frogs,” the “Destroyers” of Navy Band Southwest, over 30-static displays, interactive exhibits, a U.S. Navy Seabee showcase, and a Lt. Dan Band concert with Hollywood actor Gary Sinise.
“It’s an honor to be back at Point Mugu, performing for our military community, family, and friends with my Lt. Dan Band,” said Sinise. “It was a thrill to bring a little “rock n’ roll” following the great lineup of our military’s Top Guns, the Navy Blue Angels, and the Air Force Thunderbirds.”
Point Mugu has a long history of hosting Air Shows, with the first one in 1960, called the Space Fair, as the space race was getting underway. It was an opportunity to show the community what Point Mugu does while introducing them to the continuing innovations in aviation. 2023 marked the 75th anniversary of the Navy at Point Mugu, 50 years of women in Naval Flight, and the first show to feature dual-premiere demonstration teams, the Blue Angels, and the Thunderbirds.
Kimnach said the goal of the Air Show is to bring the community and military members together, while creating an amazing show, but added the event would not be possible without community support.
“I want to specifically thank our partners in the County, police, fire, emergency management, first responders, and city officials,” said Kimnach. “Without their support, this event could not have safely run. This includes the volunteers who provided critical boots-on-the-ground support, Sailor-power from Airborne Command & Control and Logistics Wing, Naval Construction Regiment One, Naval Air Warfare Center, Naval Test Wing Pacific, Navy Reserve and more. Together, this team accomplished something that will be remembered for years to come.”
Kimnach’s sentiments were echoed by thousands of overjoyed fans.
“We’ve been waiting years for this,” said Luis Gonzalez of Oxnard. “Our community loves the military, and I grew up watching these shows, but it is the first time I could take my kids to see this. Man, to have the Blues and Thunderbirds on the same ticket was something they will never forget!”
“Amazing! I still can’t believe I got to see the Blues and Thunderbirds at the same air show,” said Erica Pierce of Los Angeles. “I love visiting this area and I hope that the Navy gives the community an annual Air Show.”
“That was the ‘Sound of Freedom’ period,” said Christian Suárez of Oxnard.
Many officials took to social media to express their love of the Air Show.
“Thank you, Naval Base Ventura County, for this amazing opportunity to witness both the Air Force Thunderbirds & the U.S. Navy Blue Angels at the NAS Point Mugu Airshow this weekend,” said Jacqui Irwin, Assemblymember California’s 42nd District.
“I had a fabulous time at The Point Mugu Air Show this past weekend,” said Kelly Long, Ventura County District 3 Supervisor. “Thank you to the Naval Base Ventura County for putting on an amazing show and to the collaboration that took place by Visit Camarillo and Ventura County Lodging Association.”
“Grateful to Capt. Kimnach, for his invitation to watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels at the Point Mugu Airshow!” said Susan Santangelo, Mayor, City of Camarillo. “What a special opportunity to see the Air Force Thunderbirds fly at the same show!”
The show had more to offer than airplanes. Inside the base’s operations hangar, Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD), Fathomwerx and several community groups displayed interactive STEM exhibits, allowing children and adults the opportunity to explore science and technology careers available in the military and Ventura County.
“When you can introduce the interests that spark that excitement in young people, and tie it in to the base, it’s a win-win,” said Monica James, community relations liaison, NSWC PHD. “STEM is more than entertaining young attendees; it’s introducing them to the future and hearing the hopes and dreams they have is inspiring for us all.”
The Point Mugu Air Show, Ventura County’s largest public event, was open to the public, and attended by 205,000 civilians, volunteers, and military personnel.
“It is extremely rare to see these two teams (U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds) together in one place. In fact, this was the only co-headline show scheduled this year,” said Lt. Col. Justin “Astro” Elliot, commander, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. “We want to thank the Ventura community for hosting our first show of the season. We hope that we provided a positive emotional experience and made everyone proud to be an American.”
Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) is a strategically located Navy installation composed of three operating facilities: Point Mugu, Port Hueneme and San Nicolas Island. NBVC is the home of the Pacific Seabees, West Coast E-2D Hawkeyes, 3 warfare centers and 80 tenants.