The Air Show returns to Quonset Point this weekend after a year’s hiatus due to sequestration budget cuts.
Last year Department of Defense (DOD) budget cuts and newly implemented policies grounded air performers such as the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds and air shows across the country were canceled.
But this year the show, hosted by the RI National Guard, will fly again.
Master Sergeant Janeen Miller says that to improve military public relations and recruitment this year policies were changed to allow the return of air shows.
What’s more, there’s an impressive set of performances.
“This year we have an awesome lineup. There are a few new acts. The Rhode Island Air Show has a lineup that many other air shows do not,” said Miller.
This year a new plane, the Jack Link’s Jet Waco Screamin’ Sasquatch, will make an appearance. The RI Air Show Facebook page said that John Klatt’s plane will fly “its worldwide inaugural air show performance over Quonset Point.”
In 2005 Jimmy Franklin died in an airborne collision with fellow pilot Bobby Younkin. The two were performance pilots for the Masters of Disaster Air Show. Franklin was piloting a Waco bi-plane customized with a jet engine during the crash. Almost 10 years after the tragic accident Klatt is once again flying a Waco jet plane.
Klatt announced on his Facebook page that, “During the 2014 air show season, we are so immensely proud to be bringing the world its second Jet Waco. If our performance can deliver a fraction of the impact that Jimmy Franklin’s did, they will be a success.”
The Screamin’ Sasquatch, according to Jack Link’s press release, made its premiere this past December in Las Vegas for the International Council of Air Shows. The late 1920s-style bi-plane has an added modern jet engine to assist in specialized vertical tricks.
Lt. Col. Klatt will pilot the red and black bi-plane, sponsored by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. Klatt has served in the National Guard for over 20 years.
In a release, Klatt said, “Jack Link’s shares our passion for adventure, entertainment, and camaraderie. Thanks to this new partnership, air show fans are in for one wild ride during the 2014 season.”
Another new act this year is Rob Holland’s Ultimate Airshows. Miller, when asked about new acts for the year, said Holland has a close relationship to the Rhode Island Air Show. As a child, Holland’s father took him to his first air show in Rhode Island. It was that day he decided he wanted to become a performance pilot. Holland was named the 2008 World Advanced Aerobatic Champion, and the U.S. National Unlimited Aerobatic Champion for 2011, 2012 and 2013, and has won several other awards. This will be the first year he returns to the air show that inspired his successful career.
The Blue Angels will perform. According to the Blue Angels website, the Blue Angels perform for almost 11 million people a year. They skillfully perform dangerously close to one another to demonstrate the precision, talent and dedication of the Navy and Marine Corps.
There will be about 10 other aerobatic teams performing at the air show, including the Geico Skytypers and the Bremont Horsemen. Famed pilots such as Julie Clark and Sean D. Tucker, whose biography from Team Oracle lists his accomplishments a page long, most notably his 2011 Aviation Inspiration & Patriotism Award, will be in attendance.
Along with the planes in the air, there will be a static display for people to see up close. Miller said that 12 planes from the Quonset Air Museum, which are in pristine condition, would be on show. The Waco bi-plane, C-17 Globemaster, four Horizon Aviation planes, a 1-CAP Aircraft, a C-172 RIODAC as well as six other planes will be showcased at the static display.
Colonel Edward Corcoran, a Warwick native and Pilgrim graduate, will also be returning home to demo the F-22 Raptor fighter. He will be available for photos and questions.
Nancy Corcoran, his mother, described him as “born to fly.” Edward Corcoran is in command of the 1st Operations Group, or “America’s First Team,” at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. After 30 years of service he will be retiring this July.
Miller said that the air show is very kid-friendly. Pilots and planes are available for pictures, there will be face painting, bounce houses and kids can even have personal dog tags made.
Air show coordinator Robert Germani said, “This is our 23rd year and I think it might be one of our best lineups. We have a large diversity of performers, military and civilian fliers and a large array of planes. People should come out; it should be a good time.”
This year’s charitable air show is sure to leave the audience in awe with its new and returning performers.
Since its establishment in 1991 as an event to raise money and honor those who have served and are serving our country, the Quonset Air Show has raised a total of $1.7 million for charity, according to their official website. The Quonset Air Show’s main charity beneficiary is Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Hasbro has received a total $1.5 million of the funds raised over the past 22 years. The show and parking are free, but a $10 voluntary donation for Hasbro Children’s Hospital will be collected at the entrance. Carl Abelson, the senior events manager for Hasbro Children’s Hospital, said, “The National Guard really works hard and they do it all for nothing. It truly is a labor of love for the hospital.”
The air show donates anywhere from $100,000 to $110,000 a year. The funds the past few years have gone to the Child Life Programs at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. These programs fund art classes, family counseling, games and other fun events.
Abelson said, “The program is really to improve the quality of life for patients in the hospital, help them forget about the medical side.”
Hasbro will have a tent for donors and VIPs right on the flight line. They will be taking donations and also selling their new 20th Anniversary Ultimate RI Monopoly Game. The board game mirrors the classic board game except the properties are all places in RI. The game is $35 and all proceeds will go to Hasbro. The game is available for purchase online at giving.lifespan.org/Buy-RI-Monopoly. In a few weeks it will be sold in some local stores such as Dunkin’ Donuts and CVS.
Germani said several other local charity chapters will also receive donations from the air show, including Make a Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, and Ronald McDonald House.
Germani said, “No one here takes home a paycheck, everything goes to charity.”
The gates open for the show at 9 both mornings and the show will begin at 10. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on during the show, which plans to go until 4:30 p.m. Everything and everyone is subject to search though. Miller said, “This year we have a heightened security procedure. No backpacks will be allowed and everyone will be searched before entering. People can see exactly what is and isn’t allowed at this year’s air show by visiting the ‘FAQ’ page at www.riairshow.org.”
Air show sponsors include the RI National Guard, Dunkin’ Donuts, LiteRock 105, CVS, Citizens Bank, Flood Auto Group, NBC 10, 92 Pro FM, Unilock, Oracle, the National Guard Association, Hot 106, WPRO, AM 790, Budweiser and the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS). The show will hold concessions at the military base from sponsors as well as vendors. More information on the Rhode Island Air Show can be found at www.riairshow.org.