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Monday
Jul092018

Breckenridge Airshow 2nd Act of the Resurrection

By Nick Viggiano 

Three Cats and a CorsairMemorial Day Weekend 2018 marked the 2nd Breckenridge Air Show since it’s resurrection in 2017. The show put on by the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce and Ezell Aviation was again a tremendous success, as it should be with two headline acts!

As most warbird fans know, the Breckinridge Air Show started in the late 1970’s as a little fly-in, party for air show performers. The founder and driving force of this fly-in, that turned into the best WWII warbird airshow was Howard Pardue, along with his employee “Fast” Eddie Holms.  

Howard, a native son of Breckenridge and former Marine Corps aviator would fly his warbirds to other airshows with the agreement that they would attend his. And so that is how the west Texas town of Breckinridge came to host one of the best airshows in the country.

1996 was the last show and left a hole in the heart of warbird aficionados for 21 years! Then the resurrection of the airshow happened last year and was a huge success!

Kelly Mahon flying the Grumman Duck2018 was another enormous success, with large crowds on Saturday (practice day) and Sunday. Even temps around 100 degrees did not stop the warbird fans! And as usual the population of Breckinridge, Texas doubled on Memorial Day Weekend. 

The lineup was impressive, and included the CAF’s B-17G Texas Raiders, Carl Best and his T-6, Stephen Covington and his highly modified Pitts S2S named the “Raptor.” The Mid America Flight Museum showed up in force, bringing to Breckenridge their P-51D, Corsair, P-40, B-25, Wildcat, TBM Avenger, C-47 Sky King and their Grumman J2F Duck, a Pearl Harbor Survivor.

One of my favorite Navy aircraft is the Grumman F7F Tigercat and Lewis Air Legends brought their magnificent example, an F7F-3P Tigercat named “Here Kitty, Kitty.” Besides putting on an awesome flight display, it was the lead aircraft in a Navy Flight Formation.

Stewart Dawson piloting the F7F TigercatStewart Dawson piloted the Tigercat in the lead position, Number 2 was Gordon Richardson flying an beautiful Grumman F8F Bearcat. In the Number 3 slot was Warren Pietsch flying Mid America Flight Museum’s FG Corsair and in the number four position was Bernie Vasquez in the Mid America Flight Museum’s Wildcat. The “3 Cats and a Corsair” formation was an impressive flyby! But what came next brought back memories of the good old days!

After the last pass by the Navy Flight, Bernie Vasquez and the Wildcat broke away from the formation and went into a superb aerobatic routine. The sight of the little Wildcat performing brought back fond memories of Howard Pardue performing an aerobatic routine in his Wildcat. 

Of course, the two headliners “Tora, Tora, Tora” and the AeroShell Aerobatic Teamwere more than crowd pleasing! “Tora, Tora, Tora” is the Commemorative Air Force’s recreation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They are part of the Commemorative Air Force and have been reenacting December 7th since 1972. When the air raid siren goes off, it sends chills up my spine, if not a tear in my eye. Greg Shelton’s FM-2 Wildcat provided defense against the attacking force.

The AeroShell Aerobatic Team puts on a spectacular show! Think of the Blue Angles or the Thunderbirds, but slow down them down. While they are slower, they more than make up for it with the same precision, plus lots of smoke and the sound of radial engines and prop tips going supersonic! 

Warren Pietsch flying Mid America Flight Museum’s CorsairLater in the day Greg Shelton put on a great aerobatic show with his FM-2 Wildcat. It was a treat to have two of the Grumman mid wing designs at Breckenridge. 

There was plenty of other aircraft on display and taking to the sky! Many trainers, i.e. T-6s, BT-13s and a PT-19. Several P-51s were on hand along with 2 B-25s and A-26. 

Breckenridge Airshow attracts people from all over the world! Like last year, I met people from Australia, England and Canada. One photographer drove from the East coast, I believe he was from Virginia. 

All who I talked to, from media, photographers, performers and spectators, they are already looking forward to next year’s show.

 

 

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