Beaufort News

Pyro, jet cars and choppers: What else is on tap

Though the Blue Angels may be the headliners of the 2009 Beaufort Air Show, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort has lined up a host of other acts to captivate the more than 100,000 people expected to flock to Fightertown for this year’s show. The other acts scheduled to perform are:

• Fat Albert, the Blue Angels’ C-130: An all-Marine Corps crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel operate the Lockheed-Martin C-130T Hercules, affectionately known as Fat Albert Airlines. Fat Albert joined the team in 1970 and flies more than 140,000 miles each season. It carries more than 40 maintenance and support personnel, their gear and enough spare parts and communication equipment to complete a successful air show. Fat Albert cruises at a speed of about 360 miles per hour at 27,000 feet. Four Allison turboprop engines, which produce more than 16,000 shaft-horsepower, provide Fat Albert Airlines with the power to land and depart on runways as short as 2,500 feet.

• Rich’s Incredible Pyro: You’re bound to “Feel the Heat” at the MCAS Beaufort Air Show when Rich and Dee Gibson of Rich’s Incredible Pyro light up the airfield with their assortment of pyrotechnics. Using a carefully balanced combination of dynamite and gasoline, Rich and Dee have added an “explosive” dimension to modern military and World War II simulated attacks at air shows throughout the world. For a finale, their crew will create a “Wall of Fire” on the airfield. • Patty Wagstaff, Aerobatics Champion: A six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, Wagstaff has won bronze, silver and gold medals in international aerobatic competitions. She is the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic champion and one of only a few people to win it three times.

• Skip Stewart: Stewart is an Aerobatic Champion, has won several Gold Medals in regional competitions and has been awarded two Pitts Trophies. Stewart practices tirelessly in the airplane he custom-built himself to ensure the highest levels of proficiency. His show has been described as a “hard hitting, break-dancing, rock ‘n’ roll blowout.”

• Jurgis Kairys: Kairys’ interest in flying started at an early age, when he would watch planes take off and land at an airstrip near his home in Lithuania. His engineering and piloting skills were recognized when he was asked to work with the Sukhoi Design Bureau to develop the Sukhoi 26, 29 and 31 series of new aerobatics aircraft using new ideas to dominate the Unlimited World Aerobatics Championships. This was achieved when the aircraft won a number of championships in the European Championships and the World Grand Prix of Aerobatics. This legacy continued when the Su31 won again in the 2003 WAC in Lakeland, Fla.

• F-15E Strike Eagle: The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night and in all weather. The aircraft uses two crew members, a pilot and a weapon systems officer. Previous models of the F-15 are assigned air-to-air roles. It has the capability to fight its way to a target over long ranges, destroy enemy ground positions and fight its way out.• CF-18 Demonstration Team: A versatile, world-class fighter aircraft, the supersonic CF-18 Hornet can engage both ground and aerial targets. Its twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks off the ground. As the Canadian Air Force’s front-line multi-role fighter, the CF-18 is used for air defense, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation. Because of its superior power and speed and its exceptional tracking capabilities, the CF-18 has had great success in hundreds of military operations in Canada and around the world. The CF-18’s simulated attack usually consists of a demonstration that is a very dynamic and loud display.

• F-4 Phantom II: First flown in May 1958, the Phantom II originally was developed for U.S. Navy fleet defense. The U.S. Air Force’s first version, the F-4C, made its first flight in May 1963, and production deliveries began six months later. The F-4 Phantom II is a twin-engine, all-weather, tactical fighter-bomber. The aircraft continued to serve the Air Force, including a vital role in Desert Storm, until it was retired in 1996. The F-4 continues to serve in retirement as an unmanned, high-performance aerial target for live air-to-air and surface-to-air missile tests.• Air Force Reserve Jet Car: As it’s escorted to the runway, it looks like a long, low toy, but that big Westinghouse J34-48 jet engine sticking out of the back visually says, “Stand back!” When driver Bill Braack, a member of the Air Force Reserve for 20 years, cranks it, this jet car can hit a speed of 400 mph in eight seconds. If it traveled any faster, it would struggle to stay on the ground. Braack will beat air show performers foolish enough to try to match their planes up against the Air Force Reserve Jet Car. He even gives them a head start — and the Jet Car still wins.

• Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, Sky Soldiers Huey helicopter rides: Fly back in history with the veterans and aircraft that were there. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation is the only organization that is authorized by the FAA to provide public education flights in authentic military UH-1H “Hueys.” The highly experienced crews keep these historic and authentic aircraft in top condition.

Source: Beaufort Air Show