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Planes Fly over Millington in 2014 Memphis Air Show

By Tricia Hale

The Blue Angels

The Blue Angels

2 3 4 5 6 7

Last Wednesday, two Blue Angels landed at the Millington Regional Jetport. This was the start of what was going to be a great weekend for parents and kids of all ages. Lt Chamberlain, the narrator for the Blue Angels arrived first. He is also the pilot that flies the two seater version of the F/A-18 aircraft that the Blue Angels fly.
Waiting for the No. 7 plane to arrive were Jeffery Holmes, a teacher at Wooddale High School in Memphis. He was nominated and after meeting some strenuous requirements, was informed he would be the first flyer. Lt. Chamberlain took Holmes on a 45-minute flight following the Mississippi River north. Jeffery Holmes knew he was in for a ride during the take off, when they pulled more than 6 Gs, which is 6 times the normal force of gravity. Being a flight instructor and teaching an aviation class at his school helped prepare him for the ride.
Thursday, the rest of the Blue Angels and Fat Albert, the C-130 piloted by U.S. Marines arrived. During the day on Thursday and Friday, the other acts that would entertain the public arrived.
Saturday, the gate opened at 9 a.m. and people started arriving. At 10:15, three parachutists from the 101st Airborne Division, SFC Bryan Agge, SSG Randy Clark and SGT John Pitts exited  a Beech 18 aircraft flown by Matt Younkin. As they floated down, with an American Flag,  a MIA/POW Flag waving under them, Ally Coyle sang the National Anthem. Ally, a senior at Germantown High School, performed the song flawlessly.
Skip Stewart, a local pilot, took to the skies next. In the custom plane that he built, he dazzled the public with his flying. He made his plane, named Prometheus, move across the sky in ways a plane is not supposed to go. Flying straight up, he would reach his apex and hang there and slowly fall back to earth. Gaining speed, he would shoot across the runway, twisting and spinning. Watching him maneuver across the sky, you had to wonder how he could maintain control and where he learn to fly like he does.
Wayne Roberts, from Grenada, Miss., was next in the air. Piloting a Extra 330LX, a high-performance monoplane, Wayne performed a show filled with vertical climbs and  free falls , back to earth, reaching more than 250 miles per hours.
Chris Darnell has a fun job. He gets to strap himself into the seat of a big truck. Sounds boring? Not when you have jet engines behind you which will propel down the runway at speeds up to 320 miles per hours. He drives down the runway, creating a smoke screen and comes through it with fire coming out of his smoke stacks. With flames shooting out of the engines he slowly makes his way down the to the end of the runway. He turns around, and starts back down the runway. He hits the jet engines and he  zooms down the runway. In the afternoon portion of the show, Skip Stewart and Chris play around as he drives down the runway. As he come back, Skip starts to race him, moving out in front. Then the jet engines kick in and he leaves Skip eating his dust as he races past a wall of flames shooting into the air.
Kent Pietsch, flying the Jelly Belly,  an Interstate Cadet, entertains the crowd in a different way. While someone else is performing, Kent will fly his Jelly Belly across the runway, lose an aileron, carry on a conversation with the announcer, Danny Clisham, act drunk and perform amazing stunts with his aircraft. He will return for a second show where he attempt and more times then not, lands on the roof of a moving RV.
Andrew Wright, in a Carbon Fiber Air shows G202 and Keith Davis, in his Pitts biplane, performs shows showing the unique abilities of their planes. The carbon fiber plane is an extremely strong and fast plane capable of up to 10 G force. Wright does a show of rolls, tumble and slides that will keep your eyes looking up. Davis will not let you take a break as he flies across the airfield, turning on his smoke and streaks skyward.
He will twist and turn as he flies up and down the runway.
Jerry Conley and Andy Anderson fly two different Jet planes from the past. They fight their battle in the sky while taunting each other over the speakers, giving the crowd the thrill of an aerial battle.
Manfred Radius, from Toronto, Canada, soared through the skies in a sailplane. He sails up and down, silently moving across the sky, leaving smoke trails off the end of his wings. He ends his show by flipping his plane upside down and cutting a ribbon stretched across the field.
Dan Buchanan lost the use of his legs while landing a glider in bad weather. This has not stopped him from performing. He sails through the air attached, by wire, to a vehicle on the ground as he gains altitude. When he reaches the level that he wants, he release the wire. He will float through the air, with streamers and sparklers, doing flips and turns, as he slowly makes his way to the ground. As he is coming down, Roger Buis, the pilot of a Schweizer 300c helicopter will take off with Dan’s wheelchair hanging a hundred feet below the copter. He will lower it down to within a few feet of Dan, where with some help from his crew, Dan get on and wheels across the runway. Roger, meanwhile will fly his copter , named Otto around, and engage in a conversation with the announcer. Otto will play with a yo-yo, race around barrels and entertain the audience.
Michael Kennedy, a retired Lt. Col., enjoys flying his WWII BT-13 Vibrator. The Vibrator was a trainer that aviation cadets used during their first instruction flights.
Team Aerodynamix is a group of ten pilots that have built their own planes, and each one is different from the next. They are the only ten plane act flying in air shows. These pilots fly as close if not closer then their military counterparts. With the music coming out over the speakers, it is a thrill watching them maneuver across the sky.
Finally, the  Blue Angels take to the sky. Starting with Fat Albert, the C-130, that flies all the men and women that support the pilots and planes, from location to location. Fat Albert shows off its ability to take off and land on short runways. Watching the military bearing and professionalism as the pilots walk to their planes, mount the stairs, start engines and do everything together, is truly awesome. No matter how many times you watch these pilots fly as close as they do, you will continue to watch them in awe and with respect.
Spending the weekend out at the air show, you meet people. You stand back and watch children staring and holding their breathe as the planes perform their magic. You watch as Samuel Forte, the 3-year-old son of Joseph and Rebecca Forte of Bartlett puts his fingers in his ears as he watches, eyes wide open, Chris Darnell fly down the runway in his Shockwave Jet Truck.
You see a Navy dad and his three kids, the Theoret family out of Munford, walking around and enjoying the planes on the ground as much as the ones flying.
You watch as Jackson Byrd, son of Jason and Jamie Byrd of Arlington, meets Michael Kennedy, an nice pilot who took the time to talk to him.
The people who volunteer, who work months in advance, the ones who come out and take your tickets, help you get around are the best in the world. Everywhere you go, the vendors, the performers, the volunteers all take the time to make you feel important. The logistics in running an air show are a nightmare. Handling the traffic like the Millington police and the Shelby County Sheriffs did was amazing. Linda Coyle and Rita Turner made sure I got where I had to be when I had to be there. Super people running a truly awesome show. The Blue Angels are the headliners, but as someone told me it takes everyone to make a great show In two years, they will be back, and I will have a front row seat.

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