Gwyn Kent and Ashley Wolf
Did you see all those planes whizzing around recently? If you didn’t then you definitely heard them. It’s because the Huntington Beach airshow was baack! It was the 3rd time Surf City has hosted The Great Pacific Airshow. It was held on Oct. 19th-Oct.21st at 11am-4pm all three days.
To get the show started, like always the SOCOM Para Commandos came swooping down and over the crowd, just to get everyone’s attention gathered. The SOCOM Para-Commandos are the only joint service parachute demonstration team in the U.S. military and only a few heavily trained people are chosen for it after loads of training.
One of the last performers, but certainly a crowd favorite were the USAF Thunderbirds, also known as The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. This 4 plane group is assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The group started in 1953 and are the third oldest formal flying aerobatic team. the USAF Thunderbirds are the third-oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world. Before them, there were only the United States Navy Blue Angels who formed in 1946 and the French Air Force Patrouille de France who formed in 1931. The Thunderbirds perform aerial demonstrations in the F-16C Fighting Falcon, and they also fly two F-16D twin-seat trainers. These planes fly faster than the speed of sound, the beachgoers had to be aware of the loud noise. These planes are one of the best performers and a crowd pleaser for sure. During one move called the calypso where one is upside down flying right above one flying right side up the planes can sometimes only be 18 inches apart and they can fly over 700 mph which is almost the speed of sound
Being well known for his ¨Screaming Sasquatch¨, Jeff Bourbon is no stranger to the Huntington beach airshow. Instead of his plane well known for its 2016 appearance in the show we got the YAK-110. This special aircraft has only one pilot and one jet engine, but two fuselages and two propellers. If the Yak 55 was good, imagine what two of them combined is like. After three years of planning and about a year or two for construction, The Yak 110 made its first appearance on June 3rd, 2018 for the Mountain Home Air Force Base airshow.
Michael Wiskus has never had a real profession besides being a pilot, in fact, he’s been doing it for over 40 years. Wiskus flies a Pitts S-1 biplane sponsored by Lucas Oil. This plane was small compared to the other planes but it was a great performer. He found his love for airplane stunts when his dad took him to his first airshow in his home state of Idaho, at age ten. When he was 14 he rode his bike to the airport every day for 2 weeks and begged the airport owner to give him a job washing the airplanes. You could say he was destined to be a pilot.
Having been a flying aerobatics pilot since 1984, Matt Chapman has spent quite a lot of time competing in aerobatics and has over millions of fans cheering for him at the airshow. Matt was honored with the Hilliard Trophy when he became the highest finishing U.S. pilot in the World Aerobatic Championships. Matt has been sponsored by Embry Riddle, an Aeronautical University, has inspired many of young kids to pursue a career in Aviation.
The Lyon Air Museum C-47 is one of the most complete and original C-47s currently in operation and is known as the ¨Willa Dean.¨ This aircraft has been soaring through our skies since 1941 and was founded by Major General William Lyon and is located in Orange County, CA. Being shown off at the museum are authentic aircraft, rare vehicles and related memorabilia with an emphasis on the defining event of the 20th Century, World War II.
Paul “Sticky” Strickland is a retired United States Air Force pilot. During his time in the USAF, he flew an A-10, F-5, and F-16 fighter pilot and he had over 270 combat hours and 3000 total fighter hours. He also once was a pilot in the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron the “Thunderbirds.” He is currently a pilot for Southwest Airlines. He got the nickname “Sticky” from his wife Gena, whom he has been married to for over 30 years.
One of the biggest performers is definitely the FedEx 757. This cargo plane is 155 feet long and has a wingspan of 125 feet. This plane can fly 610 mph, which is over 21 times faster than Usain Bolt, the current fastest person in the world. This style of plane, manufactured by Boeing, is also used for commercial flights and can hold anywhere between 200-295 passengers.
Greg Colyer took his first flight at age 7 and has been hooked on flying ever since. He has been flying for more than three decades after serving in the U.S. Army in the 1980’s. He began flying a T-33 he nicknamed the ¨Ace Maker¨ since 2007 and it is the incredible aircraft you can see him perform within many airshows, including this one, all across the country.
Definitely, the largest plane flying in this year’s airshow was the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, which happens to be one the largest military transport aircraft currently made. The C-17 is used for tactical and strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo around the world and sometimes will be used for medical evacuation and airdrop duties. This plane is definitely huge at 174 feet long and it has a wingspan of 169 feet 10 inches.
Being one of the youngest pilots in the air show business, Sammy Mason is in his early twenties and has been flying since age 16 and in 2014 became the youngest member of the U.S. Advanced Aerobatic Team when 19. Having begun aerobatic flying in a motorglider, Sammy has since flown in over 50 different aircraft types and currently pilots a Pitt-S1S.
Bill Stein began flying aerobatics when he was still a student pilot and has been dedicated to perfecting his skills ever since. He started performing at Airshows in 1995 and has been dazzling people ever since. He loves his job and is very committed. He trains every day so that his skills stay perfected. Bill enjoys giving back to the airshow community by coaching and mentoring new air show pilots. He flies a state-of-the-art plane called the Zivko Edge 540. He has also piloted air shows in the Pitts Special, Globe Swift, and the Boeing Stearman.