Air show delights Lowcountry crowds

22 May 2009 | Cpl. Christopher Zahn

The buzzing of an engine cut through the noise of the crowd. It alternated between a scream and a purr as the plane it was attached to swooped and soared with heart-stopping, death-defying aerial maneuvers. The crowd watched in amazement as the plane veered through the sky, seemingly moments from losing control.

The small plane landed and was replaced by the booming authority of jet engines. The sheer power of an F-15E Strike Eagle amazed the crowd as it danced overhead, flipping and spinning through the air.

The 2009 Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Air Show gave people across the Lowcountry a chance to experience many different aspects of the military aviation community.

“We wanted to demonstrate the capabilities of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy aircraft,” said Mark Hamilton, the air show coordinator. “We also wanted to have our personnel interact with the local community by encouraging guests to come onto the base and see what we do on a daily basis.”

Guests were able to see several aerial demonstration acts such as Patty Wagstaff Aerobatics Champion, the F-15E Strike Eagle demonstration team, Skip Stewart, the Canadian Air Force CF-18 demonstration team.

There were other performers as well, such as the Air Force Reserve Jet Car Team, Jurgis Kairys, Tinstix of Dynamite and Rich’s Incredible Pyro. The main event of the show was the Navy’s premier demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. Their choreographed maneuvers left the crowd gasping in wonder as they soared through the air merely inches from each other.

“I loved watching the planes get so close; every time they flew overhead, it made my heart stop,” said Elizabeth Thomas, a spectator at the show.

Guests of the show were also able to see a wide variety of static display aircraft ranging from small attack helicopters to a gigantic B-52 Stratofortress.

“I liked all the aircraft on static displays. You could go right up to them and check them out and pick the pilot’s brains as much as you wanted to,” said Army Warrant Officer Evan Dewan, a flight school student with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 145th Aviation Regiment, Fort Rucker, Ala.

The weekend progressed despite the threat of rain. The show wouldn’t have been canceled because of the rain, but lightning or a low cloud ceiling would have caused the show to come to a crashing halt. The weather stayed away until late Sunday, but when it hit, it canceled the performance of Blue Angels and their C-130, the affectionately named Fat Albert.

“The hard work of all the Marines and civilians aboard the Air Station, from the very first planning meeting to execution set the stage for the success of the Air Show this weekend, even when we did have bad weather,” said Col. John Snider, the commanding officer of the Air Station.