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Air shows suffer due to sequestration, Hondo Fly-in expected to draw crowd

By Diane Cosgrove Anvil Herald Staff

Aviation enthusiasts across the country were dismayed to hear the news that all appearances of the United States Navy's famous Blue Angels flying team have been canceled due to the government's sequestration. The Blue Angels homepage, www.blueangels.navy.mil/show/, displays show after show canceled, including the two Texas shows in Corpus Christi in April and Fort Worth in October.

All is not lost, however, as you can still scratch your aviation itch in Hondo, as 40 rare Warbirds fly into South Texas Regional Airport for the annual Armed Forces Day Fly-In Saturday, May 18. As many airshows and annual military open house events in Texas are canceled for this year, organizers for this year's Hondo fly-in expect larger crowds than in the past.

Confirmed aircraft include the Marine B-25, Devil Dog; B-17, Texas Raiders; two P-51s, Happy Jack's Go Buggy and Miss Marylin; C-47, Bluebonnet Belle; a P-40; three PT-17s; a U3A; a P-63 King Cobra; a L-4; a C-60; a PT-19; an AT-6; a BT-13; a N3N; and a T-6.

Rides will be available on the B-25, the B-17, C-47 and the AT-6, and - having flown on the B-17 myself - I can attest to the thrill you get riding in such historic aircraft.

Prior to taking off, the flight crew briefs passengers on what to expect from their flight. Then you climb up inside the plane and jockey your way through the fusilage to a seat. If you are lucky and the plane has one, you snag the nose cone seat where nothing but plexiglass separates you from the wild blue yonder.

The pilot starts up those engines, one by one, and they start belching smoke; your adrenaline kicks in and you know you are about to experience something special. You close your eyes and try to imagine what it must have been like to climb aboard one of these monster aircraft and fly off into battle. As the plane is throttled forward, it rumbles down the apron and enters the runway, shaking and shuddering as the powerful engines rev up ...
This year's show marks the 70th anniversary of the AVG (American Volunteer Group) and the Flying Tigers. Hondo's own Commemorative Air Force Tex Hill Wing is named for famous AVG ace David "Tex" Hill.

Special recognition will be given to all military veterans and active duty personnel. The Air Force Band of the West will provide music for the opening and veterans' ceremonies and perform an afternoon concert.

Gates open at 9 am, Saturday, May 18. The event is sponsored by the Tex Hill Wing, City of Hondo, Hondo Area Chamber of Commerce, and South Texas Regional Airport.

For more information, call John Gibeau, 830-741-1162.

Courtesy photo