Fans of aerial acrobatics undeterred by rain, wind

2012-04-15T00:00:00Z 2014-06-30T11:06:05Z Fans of aerial acrobatics undeterred by rain, windVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 15, 2012 12:00 am  • 

There was wind, there were clouds and there was the possibility of rain. But the only thunder and lightning in Tucson's skies Saturday came from the roar of jet engines and the spark of pyrotechnics.

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona air show went on despite the less-than-perfect weather, drawing more and more spectators with each cloud that rolled out of the sky.

Among them were aviation buffs trading information and stats about planes and maneuvers, and families passing their love of aviation through the generations.

Keven DeNaan and his 10-year-old son, Elijah, made sure to arrive early so they didn't miss the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force's air demonstration squadron.

"Two years ago we came and the Thunderbirds flew and we couldn't get in because we came late, so we came here at 8:30 this morning and we're paying for it 'cause it's cold," said DeNaan, who has taken his son to the last two shows.

"I was a military kid and then I joined the military. I grew up going to these, so it's kind of a tradition," he said.

Earlier in the day spectators were treated to a rare appearance of the B-2 stealth bomber, which sliced through the sky with its nearly flat body.

Civilians also caught a glimpse of an Air Force Combat Search and Rescue demonstration, complete with explosions.

Throughout the show, aerobatic pilots made their planes dance through the sky, looping, swooping and twirling through their whimsical routines.

"That guy went up and he let the engine stall and the airplane went falling," said an amazed 10-year-old Jeffrey Curtis while watching an aerobatic plane seem to spin to the ground.

Spectators taking a break from the flight line admired and snapped photos of rows of aircraft used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

Along with fighter jets, some more unusual-looking birds were also on display, such as the Super Guppy, used to transport cargo in its giant bulbous body, and the MV-22 Osprey, which can fly like a plane or hover like a helicopter.

People lined up to climb ladders and peer into the cockpits of various military jets.

Michael Penn has attended several air shows since the 1970s. His father, a WWII veteran, began taking him when he was 5 or 6 years old.

"It was a little intimidating being around those big planes and listening to all the noise," he recalled.

Now he enjoys being able to peek inside those once-towering planes and seeing all of the different maneuvers performed by the pilots.

He had taken the Sun Tran shuttle to the show in previous years, but it didn't run this year. Even so, he said he was surprised by the ease of getting onto the base for the show.

"I was surprised at how quickly I was able to get in and find parking," he said. "I think it's a little more convenient to drive down here."

More 'Thunder and Lightning' today

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/events/airshow for photos, a spotter's guide and other news about the Davis-Monthan open house.

Today's events

As much as attendees enjoyed Davis-Monthan's open house on Saturday, today - the final day - promises to be even better.

Saturday was chilly, and jumpers were grounded because of the wind. With mostly sunny skies and lower winds in today's forecast, D-M officials expect all acts will perform.

• Hours: Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Flying demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Parking: Enter through the Craycroft gate or Swan gate off East Golf Links Road. Last entry is at 2 p.m. Handicapped parking available at Craycroft gate only. No shuttle service or off-site parking. Plan on a long walk to the display areas.

• Cost: Admission is free, but canned food donations for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona will be accepted.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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