Thunder Over the Blue Ridge brought many vintage aircraft as well as modern military birds once again to the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, WV. The crowds were light which made moving about the airfield very enjoyable. While you might not see as many planes as at a larger show like Andrews Air Force Base you definitely won’t have to fight to see everything.
Killing time before the show was easy. The Air National Guard had their aircraft open so that you could tour them. The C-5A is massive! Also early in the day, Dan Christian was flying a Yakovlev Yak-52.
Opening up the show was the North East Bonanza Group. The NEBG Formation Flying team had ten planes in the air for this “soft” opening. It’s nice to see a group of civilian aircraft having the chance to perform this way. Their motto is “Flight is the Reason.”
Bringing in the Stars and Stripes were the E Team Skydivers. The team out of Mason, Ohio uses a HUGE American flag in their jump. The flag is said to weigh more than 70 pounds! What a spectacular sight to see in the skies over West Virginia. The ground crew was ready to respectfully keep the flag from touching the ground.
All eyes were to the sky as Jerry Wells began his aerobatic routine. I have seen Jerry fly many times and his 1930’s Bucker Jungmeister biplane is one of my favorites. The bright yellow paint with Swiss Air Force markings stands out against the blue skies.
Charlie Schwenker is an area favorite. You can often find him performing at the Flying Circus in Bealeton, Virginia. This weekend at the Martinsburg Air Show he was piloting his German Extra 300 monoplane.
Several RC groups were on site demonstrating their hobby aircraft. Many of these miniature aircraft look so real that unless you have something in the photo to indicate their scale you would swear that they were the real McCoy!
One thing to stay away from at any air show is the chili dogs. Using the Port-O-Potties can be killer. Okay, just kidding. The Indy Boys brought out their Port-O-Jet to give everyone a chuckle. Paul Stender, its creator, says it packs in 1000 hp!
Bill Finagin once again fired up his engine to take to the skies over the Blue Ridge. This award winning pilot does some amazing things in his Pitts S2C biplane.
Probably the most thrilling part of the show was Jane Wicker. This courageous lady is a wing walker. Not only does she stand on top of her gorgeous Stearman (“Aurora”) but she even sits on the bottom wing as the plane is flown inverted!
Okay, how about some military fly-bys? Both a C-5A Galaxy and C-130 Hercules made a low altitude pass over the show field.
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the Lone Stars! This Army skydiving team from Texas bailed out of a perfectly good Blackhawk helicopter just to entertain the crowd.
How about a race? But what do you get to race a super fast aircraft? I know, a jet powered school bus! The Indy Boys challenged Bill Finagin to a race in their 42,000 HP GE J-79 jet powered school bus. While the top speed of the bus has been 367 mph, this time it made a respectable 311 mph!
The final act of the great day was Scott Yoak flying Bill Yoak’s P-51 Mustang “Quick Silver.” Based out of Lewisburg, West Virginia, Scott is an East Coast favorite. His low passes allow the crowds to enjoy the beautiful workmanship that went into restoring the aircraft.
Local air shows can be some of the most enjoyable. Get out and take in some sunshine. More photos can be found on our photo website – http://photos.bgcustoms.biz