As the 2013 air show season draws to a close, it was set to go out with a bang at the Salute America Air Show near Atlanta. The show, held on Oct. 5-6 at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport in Dallas, Ga. (airport details can be found on GlobalAir.com) featured a variety of aviation acts. Saturday night’s show included rare twilight aerobatic acts.
Many 2013 air shows were canceled due to the sequester budget cuts enacted earlier this year. The military jets and helicopters often featured at local air shows were in short supply due to the cuts in the defense budget. For the first half of the summer, the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels were grounded, prompting the cancellation of many air shows. The Thunderbirds resumed flying in July when the Air Force found money to fund the unit. At Wisconsin’s Oshkosh air show, the FAA charged the Experimental Aircraft Association to operate a temporary control tower at the field.
It is ironic then that the only active duty military aircraft featured at the Salute America Air Show were a pair of Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets. A star attraction was the Royal Canadian Air Force Hornet Demonstration Team which performed daylight and twilight routines. A second CF-18 was on hand as a static display.
Although no U.S. military aircraft were present at the Salute America Air Show, the pilot of the Canadian CF-18 unfurled an American flag from his cockpit in a show of friendship as he taxied in from his first performance on Saturday. In a return salute, a Lucas Oil skydiver in an American flag parachute streamed a Canadian Maple Leaf flag from his back later in the day.
Aficionados of World War II aircraft thrilled to a North American P-51 Mustang and Chance Vought F4U Corsair. Both warbirds performed separately and then joined for a formation flight in front of the crowd. The P-51, flown by Stan Musak, is a veteran of both WWII and Korea. Although Corsairs are also famous for their service in WWII, this particular airplane was built in 1945 and served primarily in Korea. The Corsair was flown by Jim Tobul.
The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team also performed in both the daylight and twilight shows. The team, sponsored by Aeroshell, a division of the Shell oil company that produces aviation lubricants and fuels, flies vintage North American T-6 Texans that were used to train military pilots in WWII. The four airplanes wowed the crowd with their coordinated formation aerobatics.
A second aerobatic team to perform was Team Aerostar. The team uses Yakovlev Yak-52s, Soviet-era Russian military trainers. After watching the three Russian airplanes perform, airshow fans could go to the vendor area to get a firsthand look at what it is like to fly formation aerobatics at the AOPA/Redbird Simulator trailer.
There were several solo performers as well. Lucas Oil sponsored Mike Wiskus and his Pitts biplane as well as a team of skydivers. “Skipper” Hyle performed in another AT-6 Harvard, the British version of the Texan trainer. Chuck Coleman flew an Extra 300L and Gary Rower demonstrated another WWII trainer, the Super Stearman biplane. Gary Ward performed in the ultramodern, carbon fiber MX-2.
Another popular performer was Bill Braack in the Smoke-n-Thunder jet car. The car is powered by a Westinghouse J34-48 jet engine that was originally used to power a North American T-2 Buckeye trainer jet used by the U.S. Navy. The 26 foot long car can be driven to almost 400 miles per hour by the engine’s 6,000 pounds of thrust.
During the day show, Braack in the jet car raced Mike Wiskus in the Lucas Oil Pitts. In the evening show, Braack thrilled the crowd with bursts of afterburner in a nighttime speed run down the runway.
The final act of the show was aerobatic pilot and musician Elgin Wells flying his one-of-kind Starjammer. The Starjammer is an aerobatic airplane that is equipped with lights and speakers for a unique after-dark performance that must be seen to be appreciated. A fireworks display followed Saturday’s show.
There were also many static displays for airshow patrons to enjoy. In addition to the Canadian Air Force CF-18, there were two vintage DC-3s. One was in the livery of a classic airliner while the other was a restored U.S. Air Force AC-47 gunship owned by the American Flight Museum. Phoenix Air, a local Georgia company that contracts with the military, also had one of its Learjets on display. Civil Air Patrol recruiters were on hand and a variety of general aviation aircraft that included a Pilatus PC-12, a classic Stinson 108, and Hughes 600N helicopter.
In a normal year, airshows are one of the largest spectator sports in the United States with tens of millions in attendance. Airshow fans can only hope that by next year, the federal budget crisis will have been averted and the 2014 season will see a return of the U.S. military demonstration teams and aircraft that are so popular.
If you would like to see more pictures as well as videos from both the day and night performances at the Salute America Air Show, please visit and like the Aviation Examiner Facebook page.
Team Aerostar flies their Soviet-era Yakovlev Yak-52 trainers on a formation pass at the Salute America Air Show at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport.
Team Aerostar’s Yaks
Team Aerostar’s three Yak-52s make a formation pass at the Salute America Air Show at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport. The airshow featured both day and night performances.
Team Aerostar Yak-52
One of Team Aerostar’s Yak-52s taxies in after their performance. The Yak-52 was a Soviet-bloc training aircraft that first flew in the 1970s. Many are now in civilian hands in the United States.
Super Stearman vertical climb
Gary Rower climbs straight up in a WWII trainer, the Super Stearman biplane at the Salute America Air Show at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport.
Gary Rower goes over the top in a loop in the Super Stearman biplane at the Salute America Air Show at Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport. Stearmans were produced by the Boeing Company and were used to train military pilots in WWII.
Stearman outside loop
Gary Rower goes over the top in an outside loop in the Super Stearman biplane at the Salute America Air Show at Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport.
The AC-47 Spooky is an airliner turned gunship. The Spooky served in Vietnam and this one is restored to match the airplane in which Sgt. John Levitow served when he performed the actions for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the U.S. The AC-47 is operated by the American Flight Museum.
Another Douglas DC-3, the civilian version of the C-47, on static display at the Salute America Air Show. Both the DC-3 and the AC-47 were open to the public. The DC-3, which first flew in 1935, is one of the most successful aircraft of all time and many are still in service around the world.
Watching the show
An RCAF pilot watches Lucas Oil pilot Mike Wiskus from the back of his CF-18 Hornet at the Salute America Air Show at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport.
The airshow flightline. From left: MX-5 (blue and green), Yak-52s (red noses), AT-6 Harvard (camoflage), T-6 Texans (checkerboard noses), and CF-18.
The signature gull wings of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair are clearly visible in this photo. Many will remember the Corsair from the television show Black Sheep Squadron.
The P-51 Mustang is one of the most famous aircraft of WWII. P-51s were featured in the 2012 movie Red Tails about the squadron of Tuskegee Airmen who served in the USAAF during WWII.
Closeup portrait of the Douglas DC-3. This beautiful airplane was on static display at the Salute America Air Show at Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport.
P-51 in flight
The P-51 during its aerial demonstration. The black and white stripes were used during the D-Day invasion to identify friendly aircraft. P-51s served in every theater of WWII.
Mustang and Corsair
The P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair formed up for a rare photo opportunity to salute veterans of WWII. These veterans have been called America’s “Greatest Generation.”
Corsair dirty pass
The Corsair makes a “dirty pass” with landing gear and flaps extended. The tailhook, which is used to stop the airplane during carrier landings, is also extended.
CF-18 inverted dirty pass
The CF-18 Hornet makes an inverted “dirty pass,” upside-down with landing gear and flaps extended, at the the Salute America Air Show.
CF-18 twilight pass
The twin afterburners of the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 clearly visible on a pass during the twilight performance at the Salute America Air Show. The airshow was held at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta airport in Dallas, Ga.
CF-18 twilight taxi
The CF-18 taxies in after the twilight show. The false cockpit marking is clearly visible above the nose wheel. This marking is unique to Canadian Hornets. The fluorescent strips are used for flying formation at night.
Team Aeroshell at twilight
The T-6 Texans of Team Aeroshell during their twilight performance at the Salute America Air Show at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Air Show.
CF-18 pilot with American flag
The Canadian air force pilot salutes America by unfurling an American flag from his cockpit at the end of his performance at the Salute America Air Show.
Lucas Oil skydiver
A Lucas Oil skydiver with an American flag parachute returns the favor by unfurling the Maple Leaf flag of Canada on his descent to the Salute America Air Show flightline.