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Oregon Air Show is a High Flying SuccessTim King Salem-News.com
More than 22,000 attended the event Friday night and the crowds increased as the weekend passed.
(HILLSBORO, Ore.) - The Oregon Air Show was held in Hillsboro this weekend under beautiful summer skies. There were amazing stunts and gleaming airplanes and as always, those who attended stayed busy keeping up on the dazzling array of aviation magic and suspense.
The cover photo in this story was shot by Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org. I immediately recognized the plane as "MiG Magic" and I had the pleasure of spending a day with this stunt pilot once. Former Oregonian Bill Reesman came to Yuma, Arizona in 1996 and I was able to board a Lear jet and fly wing to wing with this blood red Russian MiG-17 jet fighter for twenty minutes.
My favorite line from Reesman was, "I spent twenty years in the Air Force learning to fight these things, and now I have my own. It is a great handling airplane, you fly it by the seat of your pants like a WWII fighter."
"Airshows aren't really about flying. They're about evoking emotion," Reesman said, and he should know: Reeseman has more experience dazzling crowds with the amazing MiG-17F aircraft than any other American pilot.
And if creating emotion is the key to a successful show, Reesman has no peer. He performs the world's only nighttime jet-fighter pyrotechnic act, called "Red Bull Meteor" and I have the honor of saying that I was there the first time he ever tried it. It happened in Arizona; we watched the display just hours after I had photographed the plane in flight.
He described the display a something that resembeled a large set of Roman Candles. With over 1,000 feet of fire coming off each wing, his jet took on the appearance of a shooting star as it streaked through the Arizona night back in 1996. The unique feat has been known to astonish spectators up to thirty miles away.
The MiG was just one part of the massive air show which draws visitors from all over the country. For more of Q's Air Show images, please visit: letmeshootyou.org/081008
Q Madp says the Patriot jets were the highlight of the annual event and few in attendance would disagree. The thing that sets these stunt jet pilots apart is that even though they are flying military jets, they are civilians.
This is an interesting point as a recent air show here featured the tragic crash of pilot Bob Guilford of Los Angeles, California, whose military jet plunged into a Hillsboro, Oregon neighborhood in July 2006.
The 2006 Crash
In our own comment section on Salem-News.com, other pilots were very critical of the entire notion of civilian pilots flying high performance aircraft that military pilots spend years learning to fly. One man who claimed to be a Naval aviator commented, "I can say this without remorse. I have over 7000 hours in high performance military fighter and attack aircraft. No matter how good a pilot he was, he never had the skills that are learned through military aviation experience."
That was similar to other comments that were critical of the pilot's last flight. However, most of the other comments were supportive about Bob Guilford's skills and his long list of aviation accomplishments. This weekend's performance of the Patriots Jet Demonstration Team might lay to rest arguments about civilian pilots being adequately suited to fly military jet fighters at an air show.
Today these are among the most affordable military jets that a person can buy. Although they have been used in actual military roles, the two-seat jet's purpose is to prepare Eastern Bloc pilots for aircraft like MiG's and SU Fighters. A MiG like the one Bill Reesman flies uses more fuel and is more powerful, but these L-39's are very fast and they are fully aerobatic. They also have a sleek and sexy look that greatly appeals to the eye, particularly during stunt maneuvers.
Another great part of the air show was the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachutists who seemed to appear out of nowhere. The Oregonian reported that "a crowd of thousands cheered the roaring military jets and applauded amazing aerobatics."
The newspaper also spoke to a 68-year old Navy veteran and private pilot named Gary Ross who said, "The maneuvers and stuff, that's pretty special, especially when you understand the G's involved." He noted, "Those guys are really pushing themselves."
The three-day air show began Friday and their nighttime performance and fireworks show drew an estimated 22,000 spectators, The Oregonian reported.
Then Saturday's crowd saw an even larger attendance.
The event organizers say the Air Show provides financial benefits to Hillsboro including over $1,000,000 that has been donated back to community projects from the Air Show event.
The individual who took these amazing photos of Bill Reesman's MiG-17 in action is a story in itself. Q Madp operates the only Website in the nation dedicated to featuring information on all those who have been lost in the current wars overseas. He makes a point of attending every military funeral he can to photograph the somber events for the families at no charge. If they agree, he shares photos of the memorial ceremonies with Salem-News.com and other news agencies. I encourage you to read about Q: The Mission of a Man Named Q. Our special thanks to Q for these photos.
And if you didn't select the link above to the other photos of Q's from the Air Show, here it is again: letmeshootyou.org/081008.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators. Tim's coverage from Iraq that was set to begin in April has been delayed and may not take place until August, 2008. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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