Please forgive us, oh FighterSweep faithful, for not bringing you our weekly dose of afterburner yesterday. But we haven’t forgotten about our weekly treat of reheat. This week’s edition will be a one-off, a Burner Saturday, if you will, thanks to the Werewolves of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA-) 122, who are in northeast Tennessee this weekend to bring some added noise to the NASCAR race fans at Bristol Motor Speedway.
During the sequestration of 2013, the military suffered drastic cutbacks that had wide-ranging ramifications. Maintenance, training, and operational budgets were severely affected, and major exercises such as Red Flag and Northern Edge were canceled.
On the public front, the military was forced to withdraw support of airshows and flyovers, and aerial demonstration teams like the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were grounded for the majority of the season. The result? Hundreds of airshows and open houses were curtailed, if not canceled entirely, and big events like the Bristol NASCAR races sadly went without jet noise for a couple years.
While flyovers are still somewhat a rare breed as the hoops to jump through are numerous, the folks at Bristol Motor Speedway still go to great lengths to bring jet noise to an area which doesn’t typically see tactical aircraft stopping in. Over the years, we’ve seen Marine Corps Hornets, USAF A-10s and Air National Guard F-16s, and US Navy T-45s as just a few of the visitors who have participated in the NASCAR race flyovers.
The last time we saw VMFA-122 here for the race festivities, they were known as the Crusaders, a name that the squadron held for a period of over 50 years following World War II. However, before they deployed to the Middle East in 2008, the squadron changed its name to the Werewolves – another historical moniker that VMFA-122 used around the World War II timeframe. Much controversy has surrounded the Crusaders name, but it is yet again reflected in the latest color jet, complete with a shield and Mach Altus (their knight mascot’s name) on the tail as they seem to slowly be reverting back to their Crusaders namesake.
VMFA-122 and their Hornets offered up some noise and afterburner this evening to numerous fans, both aviation and NASCAR. It’s sure nice to have them in town, and we look forward to meeting the squadron again in the future, be they the Werewolves or the Crusaders.