|By Leo Cachat|
The first couple of performers and show organizers arrived around 8:30 a.m. to prepare for the day's airshow starting at 10:30 a.m. I liked this start time because on a sunny day the sun hits the western sky early in the afternoon, and this makes for some tricky photography. Knowing this from being there in years past, I stayed on the northern most part of the ramp when the flying began to enhance my chances at getting the best photo opportunities.
As I walked back to the hot ramp after photographing the Super Hornets, some of the aircraft had been pushed out from the hangar onto the hot ramp. Also, Thunderbird No. 8 and the ground support personnel were busy preparing for a morning media flight.
At this point Thunderbird No.8, Maj. Petz, was in the cockpit ready to take a lucky lady for her ride. The hand gestures as they headed to taxi were extremely entertaining, mimicking the happy hand gestures in the movie Napolean Dynamite.
After Thunderbird No. 8 departed, I headed out to find the spot to photograph the airshow. The show started with the flag jump by the Lucas Oil Skydivers, and an airliner happened to be flying by allowing for a unique image.
The flying started off with a roar as the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet took to the sky. We were treated to 2 demonstrations, one by each aircrew. Each was equally skilled, and the demos were just about identical.
Andy Anderson and Jerry Conley flew the entertaining Red Star and the Dragon routine in which Jerry Conley portrays a Russian pilot and Andy Anderson portrays a U.S. pilot dog fighting over the skies of Southeast Asia.
The aerobatic pilots were all incredible, they included: Wayne Roberts in the Extra 300Z, John Klatt in the MXZ, Kent Pietsch in the Jelly Belly Cadet in which he attempted to land on the roof of an RV, Manfred Radius in his Salto sailplane, Mike Wiskus in the Pitts S-1-11B, Matt Younkin in his red and black Twin Beech - which is one of my all time favorite acts, Team Aerodynamix in their RV's and hometown pilot Skip Stewart.
In Part 3 we'll finish out our coverage with the Thunderbirds: from walkout to waveoff.