Getting ready for weekend air show


Aug. 18--Vintage war planes were undergoing final touch-ups, being cleaned and towed into position Wednesday for the Pacific Coast Air Museum's 14th annual air show this weekend.

"This is to showcase aviation and the history of aviation and the contribution it has made," said Mark Fajardin Sr. of Santa Rosa, a crew chief on British-built 1973 Hawker Harrier, known for its vertical takeoff.

The show is also a place where people can get close to aviation, feel the ground rumble, climb in the cockpits of the sleek jets and grasp the controls.

"For children, it is a place they can come and touch history, history comes alive for them ... seeing the machines, seeing the machines in action," Fajardin said.

The show, Wings Over Wine Country, will feature 75 airplanes and helicopters, primarily military, on display, along with a classic car show.

There will also be demonstrations by Air Force and Navy flight teams in modern jet aircraft, aerobatics and a fly-by of two dozen vintage warbirds.

"For me, number one is the veterans. We have gotten quite a few veterans over the years," said Ron Stout, master crew chief for the museum's 25 aircraft. "Last year we had a guy who said he hadn't sat in one of the planes in 55 years."

Stout is also crew chief on the City of Santa Rosa, a Douglas A-26 Invader, a twin-engine bomber that saw service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

The museum was founded in 1989 and displays its fleet of 25 vintage military aircraft and artifacts in a former World War II Army Air Corps Building on three acres on a corner of the airport.

The proceeds will be used by the non-profit organization to maintain and restore its aircraft and for operating expenses.

Last year the show was attended by 20,000 people and raised $90,000.

The museum also has a long-range plan to expand, building a larger building to house its collection and display its aircraft, either at its current site or on five acres near the North County Detention Facility.

"We have gone from a handful of people with a barbecue pit to where we are today, with a full air show," said Fajardin, one of the first museum members.

The displays include a Grumman F-14 Tomcat used in the movie Top Gun and a McDonnell Douglas F-16 Eagle and a Northrup F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger, both of which were used by aviators at the Top Gun school at Miramar Air Force Base.

A fly-by of vintage aircraft will include eight North American P-51 Mustangs, three Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, two Soviet-built Yak fighters, two North American T-28 trainers and four North American T-6 Texan trainers.

There will be performances by an Air Force team flying McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C.

The $31.1 million aircraft, which has been in service since 1989, is capable of flying 1,875 mph and is meant for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat with a crew of two.

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet team is from Lemoore Naval Air Station near Fresno.

It is a carrier-based, $60 million fighter produced in 1999 that since 2006 has replaced the well-known F-14 Tomcat.

Also performing will be the Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo plane, Northrup T-38 Talon military trainer and high-altitude Lockheed U-2 spy plane.

There will also be aerobatic demonstrations by Bill Cornick, Spencer Suderman and Vicky Benzing and a fly-by of vintage military aircraft.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for seniors over 65, $5 for children 6 to 12 and children under 6 are free.