Friday, June 8, 2012

Planes of Fame Airshow does it again

The Planes of Fame Museum held their annual airshow the first weekend in May 2012. This year’s theme was “1942 – Turning the Tide” celebrating the 70th anniversary of our entry and participation in World War II. This is clearly one of the finest airshows in the US. And this year was no exception. 

The regular aerobatic acts including Hartley Folstad and Margie Stivers in their Silver Wings Wingwalking performance started the day off with beautiful “ballet in the sky”. Long time Chino regular, Tumbling Bear followed with his high energy aerobatic routine in the Zlin. Clay Lacy returned again this year with his Learjet Routine which is always fun to watch. 


New features this year included fan favorite and award winning performer Sean D. Tucker, who brought his amazing Oracle Challenger III Biplane to wow the crowds. His aerial high-jinx included his signature Double Hammerhead, Centrifuge, Helicopter Pass and the series of three ribbon cuts, all in different configurations – Right knife edge, Left knife edge and inverted. 

One criterion by which we judge an aerobatic act is the number of people who leave their seats and rush to the flight line to watch. No one was seated during Sean’s high powered routine. Sean has infectious energy and passion for what he does. And it shows in every single performance. 


Another aerobatic act which kept the fans standing was Stewart Dawson doing a graceful routine in Rod Lewis’ Tigercat called “Here, Kitty, Kitty”. His ability to twist and turn that giant plane was amazing. He took “Kitty” through a series of Loops and Rolls which we are more accustomed to seeing in a smaller, lighter aircraft with the twin engines just purring.  Seriously, this was one of my favorites of the show. 

The Horsemen were also in attendance. In previous years we have seen them in two or three P-51 Mustangs or in F8F Bearcats. This year, with Steve Hinton joining as their lead, Ed Shipley and Dan Friedkin remained in their P-51s while Steve led with the P-38 named Skidoo. The trio put on a wonderful combination of Warbirds, formation flying and aerobatics. 


The final aerobatic performance of the show featured Dennis Sanders in Argonaut, the R-2800 powered Sea Fury. This demonstration is different from all the others because it showcases wingtip Self-Contained Smoke Generator Systems. The fans love the way “Argo” creates smoke rings while doing a series of aerobatic maneuvers. Again, this show is a must see and a fan favorite. 

Intertwined with all of these wonderful performances, the Planes of Fame Museum put on an aerial display of their incredible warbird collection. For the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, three B-25s took to the sky to remind us of the importance of that event to “Turn the Tide” – the theme of the show.


A trio of Japanese Zeros made several passes during the show and provided the fans with a memorable experience. Bearcats, Avengers, Corsairs, Dauntless, Skyraiders, Texans, a Fairey Firefly and a Hellcat were just some of the aircraft taking part in the well orchestrated airshow. 

If you like jets, the Korean War Dogfight between the MIG-15 and the F-86 would have delighted you.  And the Heritage Flight included one of my favorites, the QF-4 from Holloman AFB and two P-38s and a P-51. The final low passes by the QF-4 were as loud and impressive as anyone airshow fan would want. 

One of the best ways to enjoy a show like this – if you’re not flying in it – is to volunteer. I spoke to easily 20 people who take vacation time from their jobs and spend their time volunteering for the show. There are also opportunities to help by sponsoring the airshow or at least becoming members of the Museum. 

If you haven’t made it to Chino and the Planes of Fame Museum and Airshow yet, what has taken you so long? See you next year? I hope so! 


Reno Updates

All indications point to a green light for the Reno Air Races this year.  As discussed in the past, there are several hoops to jump through and we are clear of all hoops, but two. Let me explain. 

The first thing we needed was the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority providing us with a Permit to hold the event. This permit was issued on May 17th. While in the past, the RTAA gave 5 year permits, this year they gave only one – and issued additional requirements for insurance and for RARA to comply with the NTSB recommendations made in April. 

The insurance requirement increased to $100million and the premium will now cost $2million to secure. This is an enormous increase for a onetime per year event, but is non-negotiable. 

The final hurdles include the FAA Waiver – which should not be a problem. The FAA has said if RARA adheres to the NTSB recommendations, they will grant their waiver. 

Another hurdle is actually paying for the $2m insurance premium. Which brings me to the final hurdle – getting people to come back to the races and start buying tickets, merchandise and setting up those hotel reservations. 

We understand that until now, most people still felt there was a level of uncertainty around the event in September. Hopefully, the above update will satisfy your fears and we can move forward and see each other again in September. 

To quote Mike Houghton, “I am very pleased to announce that we have, indeed, secured our required insurance policy of 100 million dollars, and are absolutely confident that we are or will soon be in compliance with all airport authority stipulations.”

Looks good to me! 

June is PRS and I know I’ll be there to meet and greet the rookies. I hope to have a full report about all the new and exciting racers we will see soon! 

Also, keep checking the Air Racers 3D website to see when the IMAX film about the Reno Air Races debuts at your local theatre. 

Until then…. 
Fly Fast… 

(Special thanks to Anthony Taylor from Warbirdfotos and congrats on your first cover!)