April 2, 2012
Photos by Thomas B. Haines.
Ground-based Fourth of July fireworks displays will never be the same. Once you’ve seen fireworks shooting from a helicopter, streaming from a glider’s wingtips, or highlighting a nighttime aerobatics routine—choreographed to music—not even Macy’s dramatic New York City celebration can compare.
The Sun ‘n Fun night airshow, which drew smaller crowds and featured less dramatic aerobatics than the daytime show, still wowed spectators.
The Aeroshell team performed aerobatics from dusk into the night. With a minimal to nonexistent horizon as the dark settled in, the aircraft’s lights were visible as well as lit smoke streams resembling comets streaking through the sky. Two soloists performed tandem loops, with each coming down the backside, their aircraft bellies facing one another. Gasps could be heard up and down the flight line as the two aircraft passed one another.
Other performances included an aerobatic glider dancing with streams of white fireworks trailing each wingtip, a helicopter shooting fireworks in 360 degrees while towing the American flag, a homebuilt with lights timed to music that emanated from the aircraft, and a highspeed “taxi” by a jet truck.
After the airshow, Skyspot Advertising gave those in the Sun ‘n Fun campgrounds a reason to look skyward. Advertising messages scrolled across the underside of Roger Caram-Andruet’s aircraft, highlighting everything from Heaven’s Landing to AOPA’s tent.
The caustic combination of crosswind and an ice-crusted runway sent the aircraft skidding into a snow bank built up by plowing along the runway edge.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Feb. 18 signed into law a bill that will add liability protection for land owners who allow aircraft operations at their privately owned airstrips and farms.
J. Reid Garrison, an airshow performer and formation pilot who has been part of the story line at the major aviation events, including Sun 'n Fun and EAA AirVenture, across the years, was recently inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame.
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