Pyrotechnics to be part of Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House and Air Show in Martinsburg

July 01, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • File photo of the U.S. Navy Sea Dragon helicopter on display during the Thunder Over The Blue Ridge air show last year.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Organizers of the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House and Air Show have added a little "fire" to this year's event hosted by the 167th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

 "I don't know exactly what kind of pyrotechnics we're going to have, but we're definitely going to blow things up," Col. Brian A. Truman, vice commander of the airlift wing and president of the air show's board of directors, said during a news conference Friday.

To be held Sept. 17-18, this year's show, which is free to the public, is expected to feature a number of military and civilian aerial acts, including the Viper East F-16 Demonstration Team, the Trojan Horsemen, the world's only six-aircraft T-28 Warbird Formation Aerobatic Demonstration Team and the Black Daggers, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team.

Organizers hope to have the F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft on display at Shepherd Field for the show, but all of the sophisticated U.S. Air Force fighter planes are currently grounded because of maintenance issues, 1st Lt. Nathan Mueller said.

"This is something people won't want to miss," said Mueller, who is optimistic the F-22 will be part of the show.

Roger Nye, airlift wing commander, acknowledged this year's show lacks a major aerial act such as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which were part of last year's show.

"I'd love to see the Blues here next year ... we're going to keep tryin'," Nye said of the Blue Angels, the renown Navy Flight Demonstration Team.

Nye said the Blue Angels, Snowbirds and other big-name aerial acts were already booked elsewhere for the weekend of their show.

"We can still have a heckuva air show without those guys," Nye said.  

The impact of this year's show on residential development near the airport will be less significant, officials said.

Two air show "boxes" — areas that need to temporarily cleared for safety reasons — will be much smaller than last year and in effect for a shorter time, Nye said.

Residents in less than a dozen homes are expected to be impacted, according to preliminary estimates. And like last year, those people will be invited to the commander's tent for the show, Nye said.

Last year's show attracted over 80,000 people. Although admission is free, a $10 donation to United Way of the Eastern Panhandle is encouraged.

The fundraiser generated about $127,000 for charitable causes, including money raised by volunteers who manned vending booths at the air show, officials said.

The air show proceeds was nearly a third of more than $300,000 allocated by the United Way this week to various charitable organizations, said Jan Callen of the United Way.

More information about the show is on the Internet at

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