|By Leo Cachat|
The flying started before the actual show kicked off as two float planes, a J-3 Cub and an Experimental Searey did some passes and showed everyone a water landing and takeoff. When the show got started, it was kicked off with a flag jump accompanied by Billy Werth and Gary Ward circling the jumpers before breaking off until all jumpers were on the ground. At this point the two started a dynamic formation routine which pleased the crowd - you could hear the crowd ooohhhing and aaawwwing as they performed.
As they finished their routine, five T-34 Mentor aircraft, brightly painted in different service colors and flown by a group from Tennessee, arrived to fly a beautiful formation demonstration. Then Steve Oliver in the Oregon Aero Skydancer appeared to fly his routine complete with smoke and a variety of looping and rolling maneuvers. It was a very nice demonstration, and was made even better by the fact that it was the first time I had ever seen this plane and performer.
At this time an unmistakable sound of a radial engine was heard high overhead and the Tora 101 Japanese Zero Replica flown by Douglas "Hollywood" Jackson entered the airshow box with guns blazing. The rat-a-tat sound of the guns gave each person a small idea of what it might have been like at Pearl Harbor. This aircraft was put through it's paces during a fifteen-minute demonstration before being chased back to the airport by the Rolls Royce Merlin-powered P-51D Mustang named "Quicksilver." This black and chrome Mustang, flown by Scott "Scooter" Yoak, showed off the power and grace that took over the skies in WWII with various barrel rolls, loops and tight turns with that unmistakable sound that only a Mustang has.
Then it was Billy Werth's turn to come back for his fast-action solo routine performed in his Pitts Biplane. Amongst all the aerobatics he performed, he also gets the award for flying closest to the water on several occasions, which really awed the crowd. This too was a performer I had never seen before, but really hope to see again - a very skilled pilot.
It was now time for Gary Ward and his solo performance, and if I hadn't been told I would have never ever guessed this gentleman to be 72 years old! (You didn't misread that - he is 72.) What a beautiful MX-2 and what a great pilot. His routine was as fast, hard charging and as grueling as any routine I have ever seen. What a crowd pleaser he was, and he received a well deserved round of applause after his performance.
Lima Lima then arrived in the box and performed their various formation and opposing maneuvers with the beauty and grace they always have. Their performance was capped off with the missing man formation in a tribute to all our service men and women over the years. This, too, received a great round of applause.
It was now time for the star of the show, one of the only active duty military jet demonstrations seen in North America this year - the Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet. This was a great demonstration showcasing the agility of the legacy Hornet fighter and attack aircraft. The aircraft itself was beautifully painted in the colors and emblems of the Canadian flag, and it really stood out nicely against the changing sky as the clouds moved in to occasionally block out the sun. This demonstration capped off this year's show, which by all indications was a great success.