Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 Evansville ShrinersFest Airshow Part 3: Air and Water Action on the Riverfront

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience was pleased to attend the 2016 Evansville ShrinersFest & Airshow last Saturday.  We were very impressed with the hospitality and professionalism shown to us by our host, Tri-State Aero at Evansville, IN Regional Airport, the airshow performers, announcer Luke Carrico and the volunteers who made this great Midwest Aviation event possible.  The ShrinersFest lasted five days in venues along the riverfront, the airshow being just one of many activities offered during all day and into the evening.  The airshow performance box over the bend in the Ohio River offered a dramatic backdrop for low passes over the water, and presented a challenging photographic environment due to distance and sun angle from the main bank.  We continue our coverage with another look at the airshow performers and their incredible aircraft, along with some water show action as well. 

Part 3 of our coverage begins with a look at the waterfront perch where we viewed the air and water show action.  The announcer, air boss and U.S.Coast Guard staff were on station when we arrived following our airport visit, and the crowd was steadily gathering.  

The noontime and intermission water show contained a mixture of new and old, starting with FlyBoard (personal water jet board) demonstrations.  The water jet generated by the personal watercraft below (jet ski) is routed through sixty feet of hose to the FlyBoard, allowing the experienced rider to rise from the surface and maneuver using a wireless throttle control.  Special training is required to independently control the FlyBoard and obtain ultimate controllability of this skateboard of the water.    

The USS LST 325 and two landing craft with armed soldier reenactors aboard made their way to show center.  Guns booming, USS LST 325 laid cover fire for the landing craft that were already off-loading the troops on the rocky shoreline.  Booming fire from USS LST 325 added drama to the "Invasion of Evansville."

We began our coverage of the aerial performers at the Tri-State Aero FBO at Evansville Regional airport Saturday Morning.  We appreciate their hospitality, and we spent our morning visiting with the performers and their aircraft.  One of our first stops was the Tri-State Aero hangar where we found Bob Richards with his Pitts S-1S and Billy Werth's Pitts S-2C.  Both aircraft would be used in the airshow as solo acts and under the new combined show we affectionately call "Billy Bob." 

The Vanguard Squadron flew their three ethanol-fueled RV-3As in tight formation aerobatics, including hammerhead stalls, bomb bursts and a few trail formations.

Michael Kennedy then flew into the box from behind the crowd, elegantly looping his BT-13 Valiant Echoes through the air and showing how this early warbird trainer was used to prepare the young men who would later be flying in fighter or bomber aircraft against Axis Powers during WWII.

J.P. Mellor flew the beautiful AT-6G Texan Spanish Lady during the airshow.  It was great to meet him and Kathy Mellor at the airport Saturday morning.

Lee Leet flew a civilian Super Tucano, a roughly modern equivalent to the AT-6 Texan.

Two T-38C Talons from Columbus AFB, MS performed several passes in close formation over the riverfront.  The crews were at the airport Saturday morning and explained the features of the upgraded jet advanced trainers.  Several members of the Vanguard Squadron were also there to check out the cockpit.  

The F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo Team from VFA-106 at NAS Oceana, VA added to the military jet action.  The crowd was captivated by the abilities of this premier U.S. Navy fighter aircraft.  Pictured with the crew is the local rescue team getting briefed on the Super Hornet cockpit as part of the standard operations at airshow host airports. 

Paul Wood flew the Warbird Heritage Foundation A-4B Skyhawk, workhorse of the light attack squadrons during the Vietnam War era.  Here again, rescue teams are briefed on the jet's cockpit rescue procedures.

The highlight of many airshows each year is the spectacular, low-flying afterburning performance by Randy Ball in his MiG-17

The Aero Experience would like to thank the performers, Luke Carrico, Tri-Sate Aero and the City of Evansville for their hospitality and for organizing such a great event.