Friday, June 8, 2007

Old and new in the wild blue

Putt-putts, supersonic jets to wow crowds in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Marine Corps F-18 Hornet fighter jets perform during last year?s Friedman Memorial Airport Appreciation Day in Hailey. Photo by Willy Cook

With apologies to the Lone Ranger program, "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear—the World War II B-17 bomber flies again!"

The largest aircraft to be displayed and flown during any of the three annual Appreciation Day open houses at Friedman Memorial Airport is scheduled to be the showcase star of the event this year.

Sentimental Journey, a World War II B-17 bomber owned and operated by the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (formerly the Confederate Air Force), will provide rides at $425 per person—tax deductible—during its stay at Friedman. Rides at $10 per person also will be sold by owners of small general aviation airplanes; the charge covers the cost of fuel.

This B-17 Flying Fortress, the type used in the bombing of Europe during World War II, was built in 1944. It has been completely restored to its wartime version, complete with Norden bombsight, machineguns and turrets.

The airport's Appreciation Day, which will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16, and end about 3 p.m., will be kicked off by the arrival of parachutists.

Also reappearing at Friedman will be a flight of U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornet fighter jets, whose roaring afterburner takeoffs last spring attracted hundreds of spectators.

Melidee Wright, general manager of Sun Valley Aviation and coordinator of the aircraft displays, said the tentative lineup includes a World War II P-40 fighter of the type used by the Flying Tigers in China; a British-made World War II Hawker Sea Fury naval fighter; a Cold War-era, British-made Hawker Hunter jet fighter; a Russian-made Antonov AN-2 utility biplane; two new high-speed, general aviation aircraft, the 235-mph, single-engine Columbia and the twin-engine, Austrian-made Diamond Twin Star; plus small racing and experimental aircraft, two LifeFlight helicopters and a 1930s-era Beech Staggerwing and Stearman.

Wright said owners of other aircraft might accept invitations belatedly and arrive to display their planes.

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