|By Leo Cachat|
The apron was filled with static displays, including the B-17 Yankee Lady, a TBM Avenger, the Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet and an F-16 Fighting Falcon of the USAF Thunderbirds. The Kentucky ANG flew in a C-130, and a C-17 came in from of Charleston, SC.
Performers flying this evening included Michael Goulian and John Klatt flying dueling performances - Goulian swoops in and flies a few maneuvers and exit the box, then Klatt comes in and do his thing. This was a very cool way to see two top pilots in the air at the same time.
The Tennessee Ridge Runners flew next. They flew two T-34 Mentors and a North American SNJ. They did several different formation passes so the large crowd in attendance could see what pilots during the World War II and Korean War flew.
After the Ridge Runners landed, our attention turned to the fence line where seven cars and a van backed up in formation and parked. With doors opening the occupants emerged - they were the pilots and crew members of the main attraction, the USAF Thunderbirds. They all proceeded to the #1 jet, which was roped off in the static area, and signed autographs until everyone who wanted one received one. Young and old flocked to the area. The interaction was nice to see, and there were a few young people who hung on every word spoken by the pilots. I had a chance to speak with TB #7, Maj. Tyler Ellison, as he waited to sign autographs. He spoke of his experiences flying the F-22, and we shared our "airplane story" - the experience that started our passion for aviation. He was very engaging, and a great representative for the USAF.
After the Thunderbirds signed autographs for about an hour, they left, and the action in the air started again. The night portion of the show was about to begin with the US Army Black Daggers performing a night jump from Matt Younkin's plane. Gene Soucy flew into the darkness and lit it up with fireworks from his airplane while in flight. The gentleman next to us called someone on the phone and said: "I've seen a lot of fireworks in my life but these are the coolest I've ever seen! This is wild!" Matt Younkin then put on a performance that would be hard to match by anyone as that big beautiful Twin Beech arched through the air with lights twinkling and smoke pouring out behind him. What a great job of flying by both Gene and Matt.
The evening ended with a nice display of fireworks. I picked the Kentucky ANG C-130 as the plane to put in the foreground as I photographed the fireworks. It only seemed right, considering the city of Owensboro, KY had put on such a great event!