Unique flying moments slated for air show

September 05, 1997


Staff Writer

Thousands of people at this weekend's Great Hagerstown Air Show will have a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of a B-2A stealth bomber as well as a mock aerial dogfight.

The notorious U.S. Air Force stealth bomber will conduct at least three flybys during the air show on Sunday afternoon at Washington County Regional Airport, including one at a 45-degree angle along a runway, said David Schultz, aviation coordinator.

A previously announced flyby of a F-117 stealth fighter today has been canceled, Schultz said.

Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and especially Paul Sarbanes helped considerably in getting the stealth bomber, said event coordinator Fred K. Teeter Jr. The plane will not be able to land at the air show because the runway isn't long enough, he said.


The bomber is one of about 20 planes that will take to the air during the weekend show, which is expected to attract as many as 35,000 people, officials said.

A big attraction to be featured today and Sunday will be a mock dogfight between a Russian Mig-17 Fresco and a North American F-86F Sabre, Schultz said.

Event officials will shut down a short stretch of U.S. 11 between Basore Drive and Jarkey Drive from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on both days for the 20-minute dogfight.

Federal Aviation Administration rules require the road to be closed as well as 14 area homes to be evacuated during that time in case something goes wrong, said Jim Alphin, president of JRA Executive Air Inc. and evacuation coordinator.

"The United States has never had a fatality at a sanctioned air show in 50 years," Alphin said.

Also taking to the air will be the world's only flyable SB2C-5 Helldiver, a World War II divebomber used over the Pacific Ocean against Japanese aircraft carriers and destroyers, Schultz said.

While Air Force One isn't expected this weekend, another member of the president's assigned fleet, the UH-1H Iroquois helicopter will be on hand.

The Iroquois transports military and political leaders back and forth from the Pentagon, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Stephen Timmons.

The 1974 single-rotor helicopter can travel at up to 110 knots, or about 126 mph, according to Timmons. A neighboring 1983 UH-60A Blackhawk with two rotors can achieve speeds of up to 160 knots, or 184 mph, Timmons said.

The helicopters are among 30 aircraft not expected to take flight during the air show.

Craig Fuller, 61, of Hagerstown, will show off a 1951 single-engine World War II advance trainer for a friend and fellow retired airline pilot who owns the plane, he said.

The instructor, who could take control of the plane at any time, sat in the back of the two-seater, Fuller said.

If something went wrong, there was no ejector seat for the pilot or instructor, he said. They had to crawl onto the plane's wing and roll off before pulling the rip cords for their parachutes, Fuller said.

The air show runs from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today and Sunday.

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