The Great Tennesse Airshow Smyrna
TN May 12, 2012
The Great Tennessee air show of May 2012 suffered from rain, associated dampness, a low ceiling, and that murky light that follows, but we did not suffer from bad performances. Delivered to us was an awe-inspiring show that was not to miss.
Our air show is based around the availability of the Blue Angels to perform. No Blue Angels, no show, so I was pleased to be on the flight line when the Blue Angels arrived in Smyrna. I had the privilege of interviewing Marine Corp Pilot Capt. John Hecker. Capt. Hecker commands the C-130 named Fat Albert that follows the Blue Angels loaded with support and maintenance staff and 5 pallets of parts to make sure they’re always able to give their all for the audience.
Because of the low ceiling on both days some performances were abridged as disappearing into the clouds was easy to do. The Saturday crowd was packed even with random showers, but the Sunday crowd was much smaller.
Saturday was the big day starting with a flag draped parachute jump by members of the US Navy Seal Team. During their decent the audience was treated to the National Anthem . This was soon followed by a great performance by Jason Newburg in his green Oakley Viper . His initial smoking billowing pass was, for a novice such as myself, astounding to view.
Corkey Fornof performed in his well known LoPresti Fury, although devoid of its normal bright colors. His tales of his work as a stunt pilot added character to this part of the show.
The highlight for most people young at heart was the thunderous flyover of a B-1 Lancer Bomber from the United States Air Force. Its 4 General Electric engines seemingly made the ground shake under the audience.
International Aerobatic Club Champion Matt Chapman and World Advanced Aerobatic Champion Rob Holland performed as a duo and were joined in an unpowered flight by Dan Buchanan in his hand glider. Michael Wiskus in the Lucas Oil Pitts show plane showed how agile a well made plane can be when properly piloted.
The showstopper for me was when Scott Yoak took to the sky in his P-51 Mustang. The roar of its Rolls Royce engine showed the power behind the old warplanes that still fly and what was needed when they flew in wartime. Scott was later joined by Dave Folk in his Vought F-4U ‘Corsair’. Flying wingtip to wingtip they impressed the audience with the agility and power of these old warbirds….the planes, not the pilots.
Throughout the weekend people showed how much draw these pilots and their planes have despite the weather. Just as the Blue Angels were within minutes of finishing on their last day in Smyrna…the sun finally broke through the clouds as if nature was laughing at us.
Story and photos By Gunner Miller