Putting the “wild” in wild blue yonder

Wings Over McConnell

STORY BY Karen Long

Long before Survivor, Jacka** or other extreme reality shows appeared on the scene, pilots were performing stunning acts of aerial bravery for over a century. To celebrate this tradition and to showcase their own skills, McConnell Air Force Base is throwing its doors open to the public the weekend of September 29 and 30 during Wings Over McConnell, its bi-annual open house and airshow. (This open house alternates each year with The Wichita Flight Festival at Jabara Airport.)

The original daredevils will paint the sky with corkscrews of white smoke, stunt pilots will fly inverted, burst high into the atmosphere then plummet in heart-stopping nosedives, wing walkers will perform death-defying high-wing acts and WWII dogfights will roar to life overhead.

The Jayhawk Wing of the Commemorative Air Force will be represented by a UC-78 Bobcat (the Bamboo Bomber) and a Fairchild PT-23, says Phyllis Sears, CAF Finance Officer.

I love the sound of those engines, she says. One year she and a friend were sitting in front of half a dozen running B-25's, bombers with twin radial engines. The ground was just vibrating We felt like in some ways we actually got to experience a little bit of what it might have been like on an air base during WWII.

Other acts included in the lineup are: Man vs. Jumbo Jet, a P-40 vs. Zero dogfight, stunt pilot Jason Newburg: Franklin's Flying Circus, and the Flash Fire Jet Truck, according to Master Sergeant Ron Flack, Superintendent Public Affairs.

There are things you see at the military air shows that are close enough to their actual practice during wartime  it's just cool to see all of that stuff.  Phyllis Sears, CAF Finance Officer

There will also be flybys throughout the weekend by a KC-135 Stratotanker, a B-1 show of force, the CAF Red Tail Squadron and many more. To see the birds up close and personal check out the static displays of civilian and military aircraft  and even Army National Guard tanks.

Kicking off the weekend at 10:00am on Saturday will be the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team, forming intricate patterns against a (hopefully) crystal blue sky with their own free-falling bodies, and soaring aloft under tiered oblong parachutes.

On both days of the performance they're planning on doing a tandem jump with a media representative or a civilian who was selected as an outstanding community member, says Flack.

The show-stopping Thunderbirds will close out the Wings Over McConnell air show on Sunday afternoon with a dramatic display of power and pageantry, weaving contrail crosshatches over Wichita in precision maneuvers with names like Diamond Roll, Knife Edge, High Bomb Burst and Stinger.

We want to tell the Air Force story, says Flack, let the public knowHey, here we are, here's what we'doing and here's some of the capabilities of your Air Force. Without the support of the public we would not be the world's greatest Air Force.

McConnell Air Force Base

September 29-30 | 10am  5pm

USA Golden Knights
KC-135 Stratotanker flyby
Man Vs. Jumbo Jet
CAF Red Tail Squadron
P-40/Zero dogfight
B-1 show of force
Jason Newburg
B-2 or B-52 flyby
Franklin's Flying Circus
Flash Fire Jet Truck
Dave Dacy Airshows
T-6C demo team
USAF Thunderbirds

Tentative and subject to change

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