05/20/17 — Wings Over Wayne: A show in the sky

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Wings Over Wayne: A show in the sky

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on May 20, 2017 8:39 PM

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The Black Daggers parachute in with a large American flag Saturday to open the Wings Over Wayne Air Show.

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Mark Thomas Greene, 5, eats ice cream while watching Tora! Tora! Tora! Saturday at the Wings Over Wayne Air Show. Mark Thomas was most looking forward to seeing the Blue Angels, but really liked Tora! Tora! Tora! This was his first air show.

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Headliners for the Wings Over Wayne Air Show, the Blue Angels, fly in formation during Saturday's show.

Randy Greene had his 5-year-old grandson on his shoulders, bouncing up and down to the beat of "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC.

As the famous guitar riff ripped through loudspeakers, the Blue Angels fired up their engines.

Green's grandson, Mark Thomas Greene, waited all day for this moment.

He even wore his brand new Blue Angels t-shirt.

With the rumble of the jet engines accentuating the pulsating riff of the classic rock song, Thomas couldn't pull his eyes away as the jets began to move down the runway in preparation for takeoff.

It was Thomas' first air show, and with the raw air power on display throughout the day at the Wings Over Wayne Air Show, his grandfather picked a perfect first air show to take him to.

When the Blue Angels are done ripping across the sky, consistently pulling enough gravitational forces to make any normal person queasy and light-headed, a smile is plastered across Thomas' face.

"It was pretty cool," he said, still eyeing the runway as if he was hoping for the famed flight demonstration squadron to return for another pass or two.

Thomas said his favorite part was near the very end of the show, when all six jets converged on each other, appearing to fly headlong at their fellow pilots before passing within feet of each other and screaming off into the sky.

While the Blue Angels capped off the first day of the Wings Over Wayne Air Show, they were certainly not the only impressive show of air power and maneuvering on display.

And not all of the air power on display was confined to airplanes.

The Black Daggers kicked off the show, performing a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump.

The official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team dropped into the show accompanied by smoke trails with a giant American Flag in tow.

As the 800-foot long flag descended toward the runway -- attached to a jumper -- the hustle and bustle of the air show came to a stand still while Danika Portz sang the National Anthem.

Fighter jets ripped across the sky to end the performance on a high note, officially kicking off the day.

This was swiftly followed by performances by F-15E Strike Eagles, a Jet Ruck, the Lima Lima Lima Flight Demonstration Team, the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Demonstration team and many more.

But then, the awe-struck masses were transported back to a day that will live in infamy -- Dec. 7, 1941.

An announcer came through the speakers while the planes of Tora, Tora, Tora Air Shows rumbled low in the background, asking the audience to imagine themselves as sailors stationed at Pearl Harbor in the moments that preempted the Japanese attack on the naval base.

"You might be going to take a hike up into the mountains with the girlfriend or maybe some buddies, and enjoy the beautiful, wonderful, Hawaiian islands," the announcer said. "It was going to be a wonderful day that day. It was peaceful, it was nice, it was great -- and you were looking forward to a really relaxing day."

Then, without a second's hesitation, imitation bombs lit up the runway while sirens blared and machine gun fire rattled through the crowd's ears.

The pyrotechnic imitation bombs and sound of gunfire thumped for several minutes while the announcer recounted the events of the day, play by play.

When the smoke settled and the Japanese planes flew away, one stayed behind to give the crowd a special show -- an aerial acrobatics display chock-full of rolls, turns and dives.

After that, the show moved onto something more modern -- a one-man show performed by Maj. Dan "Rock" Dickinson, who howled through the sky in an F-22 Raptor.

Dickinson piloted the jet for the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, and said a legacy of pilots of veterans in his family led him into wanting to become a pilot.

He said even though he's been in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years and a pilot for nine, he still gets excited every time before he takes off.

"It's my second year as a demonstration pilot," Dickinson said. "I will tell you, there's still that excitement at the end of the runway as I'm waiting for the cue just to go ahead and run up the engines and light the afterburners. I still get a little bit of that, 'Alright, here we go, this is going to be a good time.' It's exhilarating and exciting every time."

Dickinson was part of the Heritage Flight, in which his F-22 passes over the masses accompanied by a P-51 and A-10 aircraft to pay homage to the 70-year history of the U.S. Air Force.

After a combined arms demonstration in which various branches of the military came together to show the crowd how much fire and air power they have on hand, the day ended with the Blue Angels demonstration.

Plenty of families attended the event to enjoy the tour de force of America's Air Force.

Ron and Susan Sasser brought their two daughters, Stella and Scarlett, to the airshow Saturday.

They said it was not their first time, and they come out each year it is held.

Ron said the family enjoys all the demonstrations and various aircraft displays throughout the airshow, enough to keep coming back.

"It's great to see what all we have to offer in Goldsboro," he said.

Liam De Paor and his son, Micah, came as part of a group of about 20 people from Wilmington.

"I'm just an admirer of their courage and the aircraft they fly," De Paor said.

If you missed the first day, don't worry -- the airshow continues today, all day, from 8 a.m. to after 4 p.m. today. Admission and access to the base are both free.