For the third year in a row (4th time overall), the Omaha Composite squadron was invited to help at the Wingnuts Flying Circus in Tarkio, Missouri.
This year, the largest contingent of members was present, with a total of six Senior members and 15 cadets (10 cadets from OCS, 4 Cadets from the Burke H.S. squadron, and 1 member from the 155th Composite squadron). Both seniors and cadets arrived at the airfield in two squadron vans around 1300 hours after a quick lunch break. The team familiarized itself with the airport environment and
quickly headed to the local High School where we were provided with the gym facilities as sleeping quarters. The gym was separated into male and female quarters, with a 10 person tent available for the female cadets for privacy. Once settled in, the work began. Half the team headed for the airport, while the other half loaded several trailers with tables and chairs which were needed at the airport for the Saturday morning breakfast and Town Hall Meeting which precedes the air show. Everyone was briefed on hydration, sun screen, bug spray and rest due to the high temperatures expected over the weekend. Senior members brought coolers filled with ice, drinks and food for those with special dietary needs.
Having returned to the gym for the evening, the cadets gathered for a safety briefing and a refresher of CAP’s Aircraft Ground Handling training video, and a discussion of other safety items which applied specifically to the fly-in airshow environment.
Friday morning, the work began promptly at 0800 hours after a quick breakfast at the local convenience store. There was even some time to hold a promotion ceremony for C/TSgt Catrionna Garrett to the rank of Cadet MSgt after passing her drill test the night before.
Cadets arrived at the airfield and began a FOD walk and trash pickup detail, swept the hangars, taxiways, and even leveled the grass and taxiway areas by using fill-dirt and gravel to facilitate the transition of aircraft form the grass field onto the taxiway. The crowd lines were
layed out and cones placed around the airfield to identify the location of low spots and ditches which could pose a potential hazard to aircraft. A few performers began arriving at the airfield, including the world famous Red Bull aerobatic helicopter, which has become one of the air show favorites over the past three years. An afternoon air show rehearsal gave the performers a chance to perfect their maneuvers and become familiar with the airspace, and the cadets used this as an opportunity to practice their assigned crowd control tasks by keeping unauthorized personnel from the active airshow space beyond the crowd lines.
Lunch and dinner for our squadron volunteers was kindly provided by the air show organizers. After a quick trip to the local convenience store for food and personal supplies, the team headed back to the High School gym to relax, play a few games of basketball and frisbee, showers, and headed to bed in preparation for the busiest day of the weekend.
On Saturday morning the team arrived at the airport at 0700 hrs and was provided a Pancake and sausage breakfast upon arrival.
Cadets were separated into three teams in order to rotate the various tasks evenly among them. One more FOD line walk was performed and team members began deploying around the airfield to predetermined locations as general aviation aircraft began arriving. An FAA team setup a temporary control tower with a specially designated frequency to deal with general aviation arrivals and air show communications. Things quickly picked up as 180 aircraft arrived in less than a four hour period. Two active runways, one of them a grass field were necessary in order to accommodate the heavy influx of traffic. At 1200 hours, the airspace was closed to incoming arrivals and the main event started with the singing of the National Anthem by Martha Bosworth, as a parachutist descended from a C-130 with an american flag in tow. On the ground, members of the OCS and Burke H.S. Squadron presented the colors simultaneously.
The aerobatics began promptly with several individual routines by both male and female pilots in various types of aircraft, including many WWII aircraft restored into flying condition by the Commemorative Air Force like the F4-U Corsair, P-51D Mustang, AT-6 Texan, Japanese Mitsubishi Zero, etc. Various historical aircraft flew in formation and demonstrated their capabilities over the airfield as a local WWII veteran from Tarkio, recounted his experiences over Europe as a B-24 pilot.
One of the main attractions at the airshow was the unique Red Bull Helicopter, piloted by Chuck Aaron, the only pilot licensed by the FAA to perform aerobatics in a helicopter in the United States, and one of only three such pilots in the world. This awe inspiring performance is truly one of the most exciting routines in the air show circuit. Chuck, also known by the call sign “Malibu” was gracious enough to let one of the OCS cadets install a couple of GoPro cameras inside the helicopter in order to record what is to be one of his last performances before he retires from aerobatics. A great privilege indeed!
For a video of the aerobatic helicopter routine click below:
After landing, 4 members of the US Special Operations Command parachute team boarded the helicopter and climbed to 10,000 feet as part of a High Altitude, Low Opening demonstration and precision landing demonstration.
The grand finale for the airshow was the reenactment of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The team of aircraft from the “Tora Tora Tora” team arrived from Texas on Friday in their beautifully restored Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” replica fighters, Aichi D3A “Vals”, and Nakajima B5N “Kate” Torpedo Bombers.
The aircraft departed the airfield as the announcer narrated the hour by hour events of December 7, 1941. Soon the Japanese Zero fighters arrived in formation over the field and strafed the runway as explosives went off across the airfield to reproduce the sound of machine-gun fire on the ground. Soon the entire flock of Japanese aircraft was bombing and attacking the airfield as explosions and smoke filled the air and covered the runway. A lone P-40 Warhawk departed to engage the Zeros attacking the airfield. The demonstration ended with the replaying of the memorable speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on December 8th, 1941:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
As the speech to congress came to an end, the giant formation of Japanese bombers and fighters overflew the field and a pyrotechnic explosion engulfed the airfield in what was the most dramatic performance of the airshow.
After the Air Boss declared the airshow was officially over, the General Aviation ramp came alive with spinning propellers and moving aircraft. Both Cadets and Seniors assumed their positions on the taxiways to assist in the orderly flow of aircraft from the grass fields onto the active runway, where one of the Air boss flagmen was dispatching aircraft at the rate of one every 20 to 30 seconds.
After the last few aircraft departed, the Air Boss canceled the airspace restrictions and reopened the airspace for regular traffic and reestablished normal airport operations. Cadets and Seniors took down the Crowd lines, picked up trash, swept hangars and sat down for a short break before eating dinner. Everyone finally headed back to the High School gym for mandatory showers and deodorant, and an early lights out.
The work and temperatures were exhausting, but the satisfaction of being part of something that will leave a lasting impression for years to come made it well worth the effort.
On Sunday morning, everyone slept in. A few team members began to awaken around 0730 and packing their belongings before heading to the airport for a final cleanup. By noon, all remaining visiting aircraft had departed, leaving only the local historical aircraft on the field. All the cadets present were rewarded with a flight in several of the WWII aircraft on the field as a show of appreciation for their hard work in helping put together a flawless weekend performance.
Here are a few of the 14 total flights which were given to the cadets in appreciation for their efforts:
The Omaha Composite Squadron would like to thank the Tarkio Municipal Airport (K57 – Gould Peterson Memorial Airport) staff, the pilots, FAA and all other volunteers who hosted us and allowed us to be a part of such a great and memorable event. We hope that events like these will help awaken the desire in our cadets to pursue their goals in aviation and service to or great nation.
Click on the thumbnail below for a large assortment of photos from the weekend:
|Wingnuts Flying Circus 2015 – Tarkio, Missouri|