AIR SHOW

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If you’re a big fan of air shows like I am, the Cape Air Festival never disappoints! With thousands of visitors, the event offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for organizations to connect with the public against a backdrop of fun and excellence. Known for its high-quality performances, the two day festival attracts top-tier performers such as Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Aerostars Aerobatic Team, Susan Dacy and her Big Red, Matt Younkin, U.S. Army Golden Knights, along with many others.

The Cape Girardeau Airport is perfect for air shows. I know of no other large air show where the crowd can be so safely close to the action. Guests are encouraged to mingle with performers alongside their aircraft. It’s definitely an up-close and personal event. If you missed it this year, get it on your bucket list for 2015.

One of the stellar performances was by Col. Stuart Scott of the CAF– Commemorative Air Force, who piloted the North American B-25 Mitchell. The North American B-25 Mitchell is an American twin-engine medium bomber. It was used by many Allied air forces in every theater of WWII, and remained in service for years after the war concluded.

The B-25 first gained fame as the bomber used in the April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which 16 B-25Bs led by the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, attacked mainland Japan four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The mission gave a much-needed lift in spirits to the Americans, and alarmed the Japanese who had believed their home islands were inviolable by enemy troops. The raiders took off from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities without loss. However, 15 subsequently crash-landed enroute to recovery fields in Eastern China. These losses were the result of the task force being spotted by Japanese fishing vessels forcing the bombers to take off 170 mi (270 km) early, fuel exhaustion, stormy nighttime conditions with zero visibility, and lack of electronic homing aids at the recovery bases. Only one landed intact; it came down in the Soviet Union, where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated. Of the 80 aircrew, 69 survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.

Another aircraft was the three-man Avenger. Besides the traditional surface role (torpedoing surface ships), Avengers claimed about 30 submarine kills, including the cargo submarine I-52. They were one of the most effective sub-killers in the Pacific Theatre, as well as in the Atlantic, when escort carriers were finally available to escort Allied convoys. There, the Avengers contributed in warding off German U-Boats while providing air cover for the convoys.

In June 1943, future-President George H. W. Bush became the youngest naval aviator at the time. While flying a TBM with VT-51 (from the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30)), his TBM was shot down in September 1944 over the Pacific island of Chichi Jima. Both of his crewmates died. However, he released his payload and hit the target before being forced to bail out; he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Another famous Avenger aviator was Paul Newman, who flew as a rear gunner. He had hoped to be accepted for pilot training, but did not qualify because of being color blind. Newman was on board the escort carrier Hollandia roughly 500 mi (800 km) from Japan when the B-29 “Enola Gay” dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The Avenger was the type of torpedo bomber used during the sinking of the two Japanese “super battleships”: the Musashi and the Yamato.

The postwar disappearance of a flight of four American Avengers, known as Flight 19, was later added to the Bermuda Triangle legend.

Another pilot, Susan Dacy, put her 450 horsepower, Super Stearman, ‘Big Red’ through its paces with a dazzling display of barrel rolls, slow rolls, Cuban eights, hammerhead turns, loops and much more, in a style reminiscent of the barnstorming era of flying.

Next up was the United States Army Parachute Team, nicknamed “The Golden Knights.” It is the U.S. Army’s official aerial demonstration team. The Team travels around the United States, performing parachute demonstrations at air shows, major league football and baseball games, and special events, connecting the Army with the American people.

The Aerostars Acrobatic Team was also in the air. They are a precision aerobatic demo team whose aerial ballet captivates air show audiences large and small. They fascinate the crowd with a combination of graceful aerobatics flown in tight formation, spectacular breakaways followed by breath-taking opposing passes and awe-inspiring inverted maneuvers.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW DIGITAL EDITION WITH PHOTO SPREAD AND VIDEO. (July 2014 ISSUE)

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