Air show brings historic planes to Tyler Pounds Regional

Published on Friday, 5 July 2013 23:26 - Written by BY BELEN CASILLAS bcasillas@tylerpaper.com

Engines will rumble and take off from Tyler for the ninth annual Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake Air Show at 6:30 p.m. today.

More than 30 civilian and historic military aircrafts landed at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport on Friday and will be on display at the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I encourage all to come out, see it, spend a little bit of money on it and keep it in the air,” said Pat Elliott, senior pilot of the B-17 Texas Raiders from Brenham who arrived at the airport on Friday.

Said by event organizers to be one of the biggest air shows this year in the state, aircraft fans can expect to see an array of plane and jets for both the staging of the aircrafts and the later air show.

“Airplanes have always been a passion for most people,” Carolyn Verver, museum board president, said. “I don’t think you have to be a person that hangs around in an airport a lot or is involved to enjoy seeing them fly.”

Famous war aircraft such as threeJapanese bomb from the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” group involved in the Pearl Harbor attack, will be on display at the museum, along with the B17 Texas Raider, restored and known to be one of the most active and visible planes riding the skies today.

Elliott, a retired continental airline pilot, began flying the B-17 Texas Raiders plane in 1980 when he joined the confederate air.

“I’ve always liked these old World War II airplanes,” Elliott said. “I love the nostalgia of it, the history behind it and it’s a tail dragger, a big tail dragger and that brings all the fun sometimes.”

The B-17 was structurally designed in a takeoff position to help lift off quicker once reaching a certain speed. This allows landing on mud or grass strip to be easier for the pilot. Intended for World War II missions, this B-17 Texas Raider never saw warfare. Now it is used as an example of other B-17s that were involved in combat.

Other ex-military war aircrafts, such as C47 nicknamed the “work horse,” the A-26 Invader, USMC B-25, Twin Beech 18, T6, T-33, P-40 “Warhawk,” will dazzle the audience this evening as they take off from the airport at 6:30 p.m. and perform the air show above Cedar Creek Lake.

“It’s pretty cool to watch,” said Randy Ball, event originator and MIG-17F pilot. “The skies will be really busy. Bring out your blankets and lawn chairs.”

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake Air Show, which Ball said is the third largest in Texas, will be hosted Saturday by the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation

More than 40,000 people attended the air show last year, making it one of the top air shows of 2012, Ball said.

This year the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation will donate all proceeds from the event to support The Fisher House Foundation, Hope for the Warriors and the Navy and Marine Corp Relief Society.

The funds given to The Fisher House Foundation provide a “home away from home” for the military families to be close to their loved ones during his or her hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury, according to the Fisher House website.

“Every dime goes to the organizations. We have no pay stubs,” Ball said.

Flights above the Tyler skies will be available on the B-17 for $425 per seat for half an hour for the middle of the plane and $625 at the nose. The plane with a maximum of eight seats per flight will be available for any who wish to experience a ride above clouds.

The P-51 Mustang also will be open for rides, offering a 30-minute flight for $1,995, hosting only one seat per flight.

“It’s loud and it’s fast…a lot of airplanes are coming out,” said Chuck Gardner, volunteer rider pilot at Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison.

“(It’s) really a neat experience for people who want to feel what it’s like to fly.”

For flight reservation information about the B-17 aircraft, contact the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum at 903-526-1945, or for the P-51, contact Chuck Gardner at 972-822-8091.