High fliers to strut their stuff

August 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The World War II war birds of the Confederate Air Force will be a nostalgic draw this weekend at the Wings of Freedom Airshow in Frederick, Md., but the thousands expected to attend will also see some more modern warplanes put through the paces.

Among them will be one of the two F-15s that landed Thursday at the 167th Airlift Wing base in Martinsburg. Captains Hal "Hollywood" Anderson and J.R. "Pops" McDonald flew in from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, covering the 763 air miles in about 90 minutes.

McDonald will be doing the aerobatics Saturday and Sunday afternoons, part of a two-year stint as a demonstration pilot that keeps him on the road - or in the air - much of the time between April and November. Anderson is flying the backup F-15 and will serve as narrator during the airshow performance.


Asked how he got the nickname "Pops," the 11-year veteran and Air Force Academy graduate answered, "You have to blow a lot of tires."

Anderson explained how McDonald would put the aircraft through a series of maneuvers including a split "S," a four-point roll, three rapid rolls, a double-Immelman, "a 9-G max performance turn" and a maximum performance climb. In the latter, the F-15's two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines generate almost 24,000 pounds of thrust each, enough power to stand the fighter on its tail and send it straight up like a rocket.

Anderson, who graduated from the Air Force Academy six years ago, said the jets used for the demonstrations are not specially modified. They are combat aircraft from their unit at Eglin, the 33rd Fighter Wing.

One of the jets being used in the demonstrations this weekend has a past. Beneath the cockpit are three stars for the Mig-23 and two SU-22 fighter aircraft it downed during the Persian Gulf War.

Other modern aircraft will be competing with the Confederate Air Force for the attention of visitors. A Navy F-14 Tomcat and an F-117 "Stealth" fighter are among the aircraft scheduled for flybys. Those jets and the F-15s won't be able to use the airfield in Frederick because the runways are not long enough.

An array of Allied and Axis aircraft will also take to the skies this weekend. The Confederate Air Force is based in Midland, Texas, but Frederick Wing Leader Col. Bob Flint said the airshows help bring history to life.

"In a museum, you can't hear them, you can feel them, you can't smell them, you can't touch them. This is a truer experience," he said Thursday. The Wings of Freedom Airshow will begin at 8 a.m. each day and run until about 6 p.m.

Visitors will have opportunity to get up close to the vintage aircraft from 8 to 11 a.m. each day. After that the props start turning and the show really begins.

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 and older; children under 6 are admitted free.

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