Aerobatic pilots thrill at Oakland County air show
How do you respond to a community near an international airport that can get irritated about the noise?
Hold an annual airshow that invites the community to see what's going on, organizers say.
"It’s really to show the community what this airport’s about," said Orrin Beckham, a member of the open house/air show committee. "You know, every now and then we hear, ‘Well, all I hear is noise over there. What do you do?’"
On Sunday, thousands got to see what the airport does and more.
They gathered amid the smoke and sounds of roaring engines for the airport's 33rd annual open house and air show that featured stunt planes and a jet engine-powered truck.
Attendance was about 20,000, Beckham said.
The annual event lets families see airplanes in action, Beckham said.
The day's main event was the air show featuring an aerobatic show by the Phillips 66 Aerostars. The team of four pilots from Cary, Illinois, flew their aircraft side-by-side, performing stunts at around 250 mph above the crowd.
A Michigan-based aerobatic team, the Hooligans, also performed in their Beechcraft T-34 Mentor planes in different flight formations.
Rick and Sharon Gutowski, a couple from Clarkston, attended the air show for the first time on Sunday.
Rick Gutowski's favorite part was the Hooligans' formation flying and seeing some of the tricks other performers did. He also enjoyed seeing the World War II bombers lining the runway.
David Scott in his Pitts S1S and Mike Schiffer in his Vought F4U-5 Corsair also performed.
The airshow ended with Homewrecker, a McCart Jet Motorsports' jet truck, blazing a trail down the runway. The Ford F-450 is fitted with three jet engines and reached speeds of over 300 mph.
Matt Shanafelt, his wife Penny Shanafelt and their three children Piper, Auggie and Harper, came to the open house for the fourth time in five years.
"I think we’re all fascinated by flight and some of the things that the aircraft can do," Mike Shanafelt said. "We’re just very interested in every aspect, from the looks of it to how they operate."
Shanafelt said his kids were captivated by the show and said he wishes he would have learned to fly a plane when he was younger.
"If I win the lottery, that’s the first thing I’m going to sign myself up for," Shanafelt said.
Chuku Wachuku said he happened by with his wife and daughter.
"It’s good for kids to get involved in different career opportunities and see some of the historic planes, some of the older planes, the history," Wachuku said. He said his grandfather had been a pilot in the Marines.
Three World War II bombers sat on the airport terminal’s ramp area, including a B-25 Bomber named “Georgie’s Gal” from the Liberty Aviation Museum of Port Clinton, Ohio, and a B-17 Flying Fortress called the “Yankee Lady” from the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville. Several warbirds such as a Lake Erie Warbirds TBM Avenger, a T-6 Texan and the Tuskegee Motor Gliders also were on display nearby.
Privately owned planes, and military and emergency vehicles were on display as well.
Plane and helicopter rides were available for $35 before and after the air show.