Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Free Spirit

Some things never change and as inevitable as the sun rising is the fact that I will see a silver and blue T-34 mentor flying at any air show I go to.

I think Julie Clark has flown at every air show I have been to as long as I can remember. Her Biography states that since 1980 she has been a solo airshow pilot flying about 20 shows per season. Flying her T-34A Mentor named ‘Free Spirit” she performs her effortless series of rolls and loops pulling up to 6 positive Gs and one negative during her 15 minute routine.

The plane is painted in a scheme that mimics the colors of the President’s Air Force One jet. The polished aluminum skin glints brightly in the sun as the plane twits and rolls around the show line.

This show was the first time I saw the use of fireworks in her performance. A few ground to air burst went off leaving a cloud of smoke to fly through looking more like a World War II sky ravaged by flak. The plane also sports a set of high intensity strobe lights along with the three smoke generators for some nighttime shows.

To end her show as she taxis back to the crowd she stood atop her plane waving the American flag. Heat coming off the runway made her plane shimmer in the distance as she rolled toward the crowd, a nice end to her aerial ballet.

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