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Pax Riverís Air Expo í01 a Success

By REBECCA MARCH
NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs Department

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Photo by James Darcy.  All six Blue Angel pilots fly together in a diamond formation during the team's finale at Air Expo '01 here Sunday.

Click on the thumbnail images for the full size photograph

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Photo by James Darcy.  A B-25 Mitchell flies in the parade of Warbirds during Air Expo '01 here Sunday.

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Photo by James Darcy.  The two Blue Angel solo pilots show off the power of their F/A-18 Hornets during their performance at Air Expo '01 here Sunday.

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Photo by James Darcy. Elgin Wells, Jr., takes his Super Decathlon through its paces during his first aerobatic performance at Pax River during Air Expo '01 here Sunday.

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Photo by James Darcy. Kent Shockley shows off the power of his jet truck  "ShockWave" despite the bad weather at Air Expo '01 here Saturday.

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Photo by James Darcy. A member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Jump Team descends with the American flag to kick off Air Expo '01 here Sunday.

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Photo by James Darcy. The Naval Air Station Patuxent River Search and Rescue Team short haul an aircrewman and a person in distress from the team's UH-3H Sea King after simulating the recovery of a survivor on land at Air Expo '01 here Saturday.

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Photo by Nick Minecci. A Grumman TBM-3E Avenger soars above the flightline, invoking memories of naval aviation during World War II.

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, MD-Past favorites and debut performers joined together to make Air Expo '01 Naval Air Station Patuxent River's best air show yet. 

Through the commitment of everyone involved in Air Expo, Pax River's two-day show, the first in Pax River history, was a success. 

"The hard work and dedication of the entire air show committee, as well as the numerous volunteers, workers and support groups in the community, made it all happen," Cmdr. Kevin Holland, air expo coordinator, said. "An event such as this is an extremely complicated and potentially hazardous one, and requires the expertise of a broad variety of functional groups to bring it together. Everyone single person involved put forth a 100 percent effort to ensure that our show was successful and safe."

The 100 percent effort put forth by the Air Expo staff was proven when the weather forecast for Saturday, May 26, looked bleak. But, despite Mother Nature's intentions, the show did go on. As soon as a window opened at about 11:30 a.m., those who weathered the morning did get a chance to see some of the show. Five performers -- Patty Wagstaff, Manfred Radius, Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, the A-10 Demonstration Team and Pax River's Search and Rescue Team -- went on to show their stuff before the rain started again at about 2:15 p.m. 

Sunday, May 27, dawned bright and sunny and the show kicked off as scheduled with a team from the 82nd Airborne jumping from a Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron C-130 Hercules. The National Anthem played as the team descended from 5,000 feet with the American flag. The team's landing marked the start of more than five hours of performers challenging gravity from the cockpits of military and civilian aircraft, executing everything from tactical demonstrations to aerobatic maneuvers.

Immediately following the jump team, the sound of propeller engines echoed across the show site as a parade of warbirds, including an FM-2 Wildcat, a TBM-3E Avenger, a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, a B-25 Mitchell "Panchito," and a Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair flew up the flightline. 

Patty Wagstaff followed, pushing her BF Goodrich Aerospace Extra 300XS to the limit during her "hardcore aerobatic" act. Wagstaff, the only female performer in the show, kept the fans' attention as she took her plane through multiple vertical snap rolls, lomcevaks, torque rolls and tailslides.

Pax River favorite Kent Shockley and his 36,000-horsepower Peterbilt truck, "ShockWave," raced down the runway twice May 27. During ShockWave's solo performance, AK2 Rodney Moats, who reenlisted during the May 26 show, rode along as the truck streaked down the runway at over 300 mph. When ShockWave raced Wagstaff later in the show, MS1(SW) Francisco Buenaventura, who reenlisted during Sunday's show, felt the truck's power as its three Pratt & Whitney J34-48 engines rocketed it down the runway. 

From his H 101 Salto sailplane, Manfred Radius tuned in to the crowd via radio as he soared down from an altitude of over 6,000 feet. During his descent, Radius performed outside loops, snap rolls, tail slides, inverted spins, vertical eights, rolling turns and other maneuvers. For his grand finale, Radius performed his world-famous inverted ribbon cut, where, while flying inverted, he sliced a ribbon suspended 25 feet in the air between two poles.

Pax River's Air Operations Department's Search and Rescue Team showed off its skill as it simulated the recovery of a person in distress on land. Red smoke signaled the survivor's location as the team rappelled an aircrewman down to the survivor and short hauled both from the team's UH-3H Sea King.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II's West Coast Demonstration Team showcased the Warthog's high and low speed maneuverability through a combination of rapid rolls, maximum performance climbs, descents and simulated weapons employment, demonstrated through a pyrotechnics display in center field. 

As the A-10 demonstration ended, retired Navy Capt. Dale "Snort" Snodgrass took off in his F-86 Sabre and joined the Warthog in a heritage flight. The always-entertaining Snodgrass then took his Sabre through a demonstration that highlighted the aircraft's maneuverability and tactical abilities.

Following Snodgrass, Air Expo newcomers, the F-117A Nighthawk Demonstration Team from the Air Force's 49th Fighter Wing, gave the crowd a good look at the stealth aircraft as it made three passes over the flightline. 

Guests at Air Expo '01 were treated to another show newcomer as the latest variant of the Navy's Hornet, the F/A-18F Super Hornet, made its debut performance. Boeing test pilot Mike Bryan piloted the aircraft through a bold performance of 22 maneuvers, showcasing the aircraft's capabilities and strengths.

Following the Super Hornet, the Navy's F-14 Tomcat demonstration team from "The Grim Reapers" of Fighter Squadron 101 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., took to the skies. The team highlighted the aircraft's power and agility through a series of choreographed maneuvers including a series of low, high-speed passes and a carrier touch-and-go. 

After the Tomcat touched down, the crowd turned quiet in anticipation as the Blue Angels' C-130 Hercules "Fat Albert" taxied onto the runway. Eight solid-fuel rockets attached to its sides propelled Fat Albert in a jet-assisted-take-off 1,500 feet down the runway. The C-130 climbed at a 45-degree angle and attained an altitude of 1,000 feet in minimal time. 

Following Fat Albert's lead, show headliners, the Blue Angels, awed Air Expo guests with the graceful, high-precision maneuvers of the four-plane "diamond" and the fast-paced high performance maneuvers of the solo pilots in the number five and six jets. For the team's finale, all six jets joined in the six plane Delta formation. 

With the touchdown of the Blues, the flying portion of Air Expo came to a successful end. "I was very pleased to be the coordinator of this event," Holland said. "And I have no doubt the next Air Expo will be an outstanding success as well."

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