Martinsburg native sole A-10 pilot in air show

August 18, 1999

Jamie Wilson and A-10By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photos: U.S. AIR FORCE

For as long as he can remember, Jamie Wilson has wanted to fly. And fly he does as the only A-10 pilot for the East Coast demonstration team of the U.S. Air Force.

The Martinsburg, W.Va., man will get a chance to show off his skills to friends and family and other flying enthusiasts this weekend as he participates in the two-day Wings of Freedom Air Show at Frederick Municipal Airport.

A pilot for many years, Wilson has high praise for the A-10, a plane that was once assembled at Fairchild Industries in Hagerstown.


"It's really one of the most maneuverable planes ever built," Wilson said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

Jamie and A-10A 1988 graduate of Martinsburg High School, Wilson went on to the U.S. Air Force Academy, thanks to an appointment by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va.

After graduation and then pilot and fighter training, Wilson flew the F-111 until 1996, when he began training to fly the A-10.

"My flying in this Frederick air show is really special for my whole family," Wilson said.

He said it will be only the second time his mother has seen him fly.

"He is truly living his dream," said Wilson's mother, Deborah Widmeyer Wilson, also of Martinsburg. "Jamie has been wanting to do this since he was 5 years old."

The grandson of the late William and Irene Widmeyer, Wilson also has a younger brother, Justin, in Martinsburg.

Now 29 and an Air Force captain, Wilson is stationed at Pope Air Force Base with the recently-formed A-10 East Coast demonstration team.

The A-10 played a big role ;in America's Gulf War efforts.

The low-flying "tank killers" used to be familiar sights in the skies over Hagerstown as they left the local airport for their first destinations.

Flying the versatile A-10 in air shows, such as the Aug. 21-22 event in Frederick, Wilson is part of an elite team that includes narrators and maintenance crew members. He is the lone pilot.

This weekend, Wilson and his plane will demonstrate low-flying tactical maneuvers, four-point rolls, "Cuban eights" and mock strafing attacks, among other skills.

"Team Pope" travels to air shows on the East Coast to show the public what the plane can do. The team has three A-10 demonstration planes, all with special paint and tail flash.

The Wings of Freedom show also will salute World War II women pilots. Gates open at 8 a.m. both days with $11 admission for adults and $5 for children.

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