Local News

Festival Of Flight Air Show Promises Thrills, Chills

Posted May 17, 2003

— Some of the best stunt pilots in the country will be swooping and soaring at the Fayetteville Regional Airport during Sunday's air show at the Festival of Flight.

Saturday, the pilots fine-tuned their daring dives, giving spectators an exciting preview.

For stunt pilot Goody Thomas, practice makes perfect -- just as oil makes smoke.

"This is smoke oil we're putting in here," Thomas said as he prepared to hit the skies to practice for Sunday's show.

The smoke oil is part of the show that crowds will come to see Sunday. But Saturday's practice show proved good enough for those willing to watch through a wiry fence.

"We came out a little early to watch everything," said spectator Janet Leonard.

Leonard and her daughter, Taylor, will come again Sunday.

"It's phenomenal," Leonard said. "They (the pilots) must have nerves of steel to do what they're doing. Constantly flying up. The loops and flips. They're doing just tremendous."

They're also among the best in the business.

"The organizers here have brought together some of the greatest pilots that you could find anywhere," stunt pilot Jim Keller said. "They are such great performers here. There are no second-class performers. Everyone here is grade A or above."

Many fans see it as a demonstration of how America has always ruled the air, from Kitty Hawk to Iraq.

"It's an expression of the wonderful country we live in," said spectator Steve Locke. "The freedom we enjoy. It's a salute to the excellence of our military.

"It gives me goosechills just thinking about the great job they've done for us."

The air show begins at noon Sunday at the Fayetteville Regional Airport.

The festivities don't stop there. On Tuesday morning, Rene Syler and the CBS Early Show roll into town for a live broadcast from the Festival of Flight. WRAL's live coverage will begin at 6 a.m. from Fayetteville, and the Early Show will pick up after that.


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