Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blue Skies and Blue Angels Smile Upon Memphis Airshow

By Leo Cachat
Last Friday, October 17, The Aero Experience was in Millington, TN for the 2014 Memphis Air Show rehearsal, (announcer, Danny Clisham corrected me when I referred to it as a practice show).  Photographers were allowed on the show grounds at 10 a.m., and that was the only down side of the day as I made the trip from Bonne Terre at 4 a.m. and arrived at 8 a.m. and had to wait. Once allowed onto the field, there was only an hour to photograph all the great acts participating in this year's show while they were on the ground. The weather was absolutely perfect, and everyone was in great spirits.  Rehearsal was ready to start exactly on time at 11 a.m. To tell you how great of a show this was, it started at 11 a.m. and did not end until a little after 4 p.m. with hardly any down time. Rather than explain the whole show, I'll let the pictures speak for it. It was well worth the trip.

As I left the terminal I headed right to where the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were parked at show center on the ramp, and I and was allowed to get some great shots. While there, I noticed the always friendly, professional and quite funny Danny Clisham at the sound tent. I met Mr. Clisham two weeks earlier at the Owensboro, KY airshow. He's a legend in the business and a quality individual.  I was honored to talk to him here in Memphis.  He was kind enough to pose for a picture in front of the Blue Angels in true "Hollywood" style.

From there I headed to the other side of the ramp to the hangar where the rest of the show planes were staging and getting ready for practice. I was quite happy to see a pilot  I met earlier this year at the Cameron, MO airshow, Andrew Wright, who flies the Carbon Fiber Giles 202. Andrew flies an awesome aerobatic routine that is anything but routine in a great looking airplane. He's a very nice guy, and it's great to see him flying more Midwest shows.  I look forward to seeing him more in years to come.

I also was blessed enough to talk with Andy Anderson, the pilot of the BAC-167 Strikemaster aircraft known as "The Dragon."  He is one half of the Red Star and the Dragon routine with Jerry Conley in his L-29 Delphin "Red Star."  Mr. Anderson brought his Strikemaster to the St. Louis Regional Airport Fly-In back around 2007. It was great to see and talk with him again, since the last time I had communicated with him was on an aviation website that doesn't exist anymore.  Their routine is very entertaining, complete with narration which simulates what two rival pilots from different countries might sound like from the cockpits of both planes while locked in a dog fight.  

My next stop was at one of my favorite acts and people on the airshow circuit today and that was Matt Younkin and his Twin Beech "Ellie Mae."  I stopped just for a second and chatted with Mr. Younkin about the season he had this year, and he said it was a really good show season for Younkin Airshows. He is a class act and I was privileged that he posed for a photograph by his airplane for me.

Next to them was another favorite of mine, Skip Stewart, and his airplane Promethius. This is Skip's home airport, and he did not disappoint on this day of flying in typical, exciting Stewart style.

Minnesota's CAF wing had their B-25 "Miss Mitchell" at the show. This beautiful silver warbird was a delight to see and hear as it made some impressive passes during the rehearsal show.

I was able to photograph Kent Pietsch's Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet, Michael Kennedy's BT-13 Vultee, Keith Davis' Pitts, Team Aerodynamix, Dan Buchanan, Manfred Radius, the Shockwave jet truck, Otto the Helicopter, Wayne Roberts' Extra and the U.S. Army Golden Knights.




...and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels!

Upon leaving the show, I decided to stop in the terminal and see if I could track down Capt. Dusty Cook, the U.S.M.C. pilot of the Blue Angels C-130 affectionately known as "Fat Albert." I have communicated with him on a social media site for quite a while, and I just wanted to shake his hand as a show of respect for what he and the rest of the team do.  I didn't have to wait long - I caught him as he was headed to the briefing room. I introduced myself, shook his hand and chatted for just a few seconds as I didn't want to take up a whole lot of his time (I could have talked to him about the C-130 for a couple days). There's just something about that big bird I really like. Capt. Cook is a great ambassador for the U.S.M.C., and seems to be just a genuinely nice guy. God Bless him and all the members of our armed forces.  I may not agree with what our government does all the time, but I respect the sacrifice our military makes.

I can speak for all of us in saying thank you to all the performers and show organizers at all the shows we have attended this year (and a few smaller events to come). It is because of men and women like you that we have a passion for aviation and a desire to share our experiences with those who can't be there.  God Bless all of you, fly safe and blue skies. Here's to the 2015 show season! 

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