Airplane enthusiasts and families with children eagerly toured the planes on display Saturday at the Thunder Over the Valley air show, walking through cargo craft and climbing into cockpits.
Likewise, military members standing beside the planes and helicopters that they fly were excited to be at the show, explaining their work to wide-eyed youngsters at the Santa Maria Public Airport.
Mike Geddry Sr., Santa Maria Museum of Flight president and air show organizer, said that few planes took to the air Saturday because of various issues that kept aircraft on the ground. However, Geddry estimated that 4,000 attendees turned out to take in the annual show, viewing planes on static display, sampling food from vendors and checking out informational booths.
About 40 aircraft, some based as far away as Canada, sat on the asphalt Saturday on the south side of the airfield.
The air show continues from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today with more flight demonstrations and events. To reach the air show, take Highway 135 to Foster Road and turn right on South Blosser Road. Admission costs $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children 7 to 12 years old, $15 for families and free for military personnel with identification.
Geddry said that one plane expected to fly Saturday had mechanical troubles. All C-17s were grounded because of the crash of a similar plane in Alaska during a training exercise, and the national Coast Guard commander pulled all Coast Guard aircraft from air shows and other public demonstrations.
This year’s Thunder Over the Valley paid special tribute to the Coast Guard.
The Santa Maria show is not about putting planes in the air or making money, Geddry noted. “It’s about honoring our military and veterans,” he said.
A “Seahawk” Naval helicopter out of San Diego drew the attention of several people, including a little boy who sat in the cockpit, fiddling with the aircraft’s instruments and asking the sailors questions.
One of the crew, Chief John Myrbeck, said Seahawks are typically used for surveillance, and that particular helicopter was involved in training. Myrbeck helped monitor the children as they explored the aircraft. “Some of the kids get pretty amped up,” he said.
Myrbeck said he attended air shows as a child with his father, who was in the Air Force, and still enjoys going to them as an adult. He said many attendees at Saturday’s event were appreciative, thanking military members for their service.
A C-130 cargo plane with the Kentucky Air Guard was packed inside with visitors. Lt. Col. Rick Shelton said that while that plane was built in 1991, C-130s were first manufactured in 1954 and are the military plane to be the longest in production. The planes carry out a variety of tasks, he said, including dropping food and equipment. “This one’s probably going to Afghanistan in a couple months,” Shelton said.
Another hit with those who came to the air show was a sleek-looking F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet out of Lemoore Naval Air Station.
The Gibson family from Santa Maria attended their first Thunder Over the Valley air show on Saturday. Andy Gibson’s toddler son hurried ahead with mom in tow to look at more planes, as Andy explained the family interest in planes. “I’m an aerospace engineer, so he has an interest by default,” Gibson said. Gibson, who is normally involved in the design phase of planes, said he enjoys seeing the finished products.
The Hollon family from Santa Maria also attended the air show for the first time. “I think that’s really neat that it’s hands-on for the kids,” said Breann Hollon, adding the display provided a good opportunity to teach her children about history.
Posted in Local on Sunday, August 29, 2010 12:15 am
Although an Air Force C-17 landed at Santa Maria Public Airport on Friday, the 174-foot-long cargo plane will not take to the air this weekend during the Thunder Over the Valley air show as originally planned.
Because of a crash of a similar aircraft in Alaska during a training exercise for an air show in July, all C-17s have been grounded from public demonstrations pending the conclusion of an investigation, said Lt. Col. Ben Hackworth of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. “It’s extremely disappointing,” Hackworth, a 26-year Air Force veteran, said of the news given to the crew Friday morning.
However, the Globemaster III plane from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing will be on static display for air show attendees.
Capable of carrying 180,000 pounds of cargo, the C-17 is a nimble aircraft, said Lt. Col. Tim Harris. “It flies like a little plane,” said Harris, a 24-year Air Force veteran.
One of his C-17 flights included carrying killer whale Keiko of the movie “Free Willy.”
Hackworth and Harris are two of the original 12 Air Force C-17 pilots, said Lt. Col. Stu Rodriguez. The flight from their home base in Riverside took a mere 35 minutes Friday.
Three pilots and three loadmasters are part of the C-17 crew here for the air show.
Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday, the 21st edition of the event is specifically dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard and a C-130 Hercules cargo plane crew the Coast Guard lost in an October 2009 crash with a Marine Corps Super Cobra helicopter over the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.
Coast Guard aircraft had been scheduled to participate in the air show, but the national Coast Guard commander has pulled all Coast Guard aircraft from air shows and other public demonstrations, according to Mike Geddry Sr., Museum of Flight president and air show organizer.
Geddry’s decision to keep working the phones paid off Friday with a brief visit from an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the Coast Guard version of the Army’s Blackhawk chopper. The visit was made in part by the work of a Santa Maria native. Petty Officer Matthew Schofield, a public affairs officer, was able to get a San Diego-based Jayhawk crew to fly up for a tri-tip barbecue.
“I don’t know if anyone has had [tri-tip],” Schofield, a 1996 Righetti High School graduate, said of the volunteer crew. That the show is dedicated to the Coast Guard is a big honor, he said. “It shows the city of Santa Maria opens its arms to us,” he said.
Santa Maria’s air show is unique as it is dedicated annually to veterans and active duty men and women of the armed forces and their sacrifices for our freedom.
Posted in Local on Saturday, August 28, 2010 12:28 am
The “thunder” in the Thunder Over the Valley air show at the Santa Maria Public Airport is back this weekend.
Last year, in a change from the past, the Santa Maria Museum of Flight’s annual show had to do without the aerial demonstrations of modern and classic warbirds for which the event has become known. Organizers said they were unable to secure the required federal waivers in time.
However, this year the aerial spectacular will return, including aircraft from Canada’s air force and a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, a 174-foot-long cargo plane, according to Mike Geddry Sr., Museum of Flight president and air show organizer.
Also expected are a Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier jump jet, Marine Corps helicopters, Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighters, and a Navy E-2C Hawkeye, an early warning and control aircraft.
Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the 21st edition of the event is specifically dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard and a C-130 Hercules cargo plane crew the Coast Guard lost in an October 2009 crash with a Marine Corps Super Cobra helicopter over the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, he said.
However, Geddry has been told the national Coast Guard commander has pulled all Coast Guard aircraft from air shows and other public demonstrations. “It would have been nice to have them,” Geddry said. Undaunted by the news, Geddry said he will not give up on an appearance by the Coast Guard aircraft until 4 p.m. Sunday.
Santa Maria’s air show is unique as it is dedicated annually to veterans and active duty men and women of the armed forces and their sacrifices for our freedom, Geddry said.
New to the show is a Saturday concert, scheduled from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m., of patriotic music performed by the Central Coast Gazebo Band.
The museum at 3015 Airpark Drive is dedicated to collecting, developing and preserving artifacts related to aviation history.
A fundraiser tri-tip cook-off for the museum, hosted by members of The Society of Petroleum Engineers, is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the museum. The cook-off, which is open to the public, will cost $25 per plate.
For more information, call the museum at 922-8758.
Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 11:20 pm
August 28 through 29, 2010
Sponsored by the Santa Maria Museum of Flight
Honoring U.S. Coast Guard Aviation
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Santa Maria Public Airport
Military demonstration teams, special exhibits, military and warbird static displays, souvenir and food vendors, Kiddie Corral
For inquires: Contact the Museum of Flight at (805) 922-8758.
By Julian J. Ramos/Staff Writer email@example.com
Real-time flight information, weather updates, and the latest news and sports scores for airline passengers are coming to the Santa Maria Public Airport.
Known as the ProDIGIQ system, the airport TV network is meant to keep passengers in the airport terminal informed on the status of their flights while providing news, weather, and sports reports. There will also be a link on the airport’s website for up-to-the-minute arrival and departure flight information.
Advertising space for sale is also a component of ProDIGIQ.
A meeting with the Calabasas-based vendor is scheduled in about a week to hash out the installation schedule, said Chris Hastert, airport general manager.
The Santa Maria Public Airport District Board of Directors approved the $27,000 purchase of the system hardware, licensed software, a 4- inch HDTV, two years of service, support fees and other costs, Thursday in a 4-1 vote.
Director Chuck Damiano, who cast the dissenting vote, said he believes revenues generated by advertising on the system won’t recover the costs spent by the district, and the money could have been better spent.
At the moment, there is a small computer monitor with a single page of flight schedules near the United Airlines check-in counter, while the passenger waiting area in the terminal, also known as the hold room, has two TV sets with flight schedules and news programming from Dish Network.
The new 48-inch screen will be installed in the check-in counter area, and one of the screens in the hold room will stay tuned to Dish Network news content, Hastert said.
Keeping passengers informed on the timing of their flights should ease their fears of late or delayed flights, Hastert said.
Santa Maria Airport, also called SMX, will become the second Central Coast airport and the sixth nationwide with ProDIGIQ.
The system is currently in place at Santa Barbara Airport, and airports in Redding; Medford, Ore.; Missoula, Mont.; and Elmira, N.Y.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Adventures of Vance Breese
Nipomo resident Vance Breese almost died 15 years ago while attempting to set a land speed record on a streamliner motorcycle. Years later, he has recovered and can be seen in area skies piloting a unique experimental gyroplane aircraft with his girlfriend, Edna. The two have plans to fly cross county in a new gyroplane in the coming years and create a book about their experiences.
When the Santa Maria Times wrote about local pilot and former motorcycle racer Vance Breese more than two years ago, the Nipomo resident had recently received medical clearance to pilot an experimental gyroplane. He was content learning how to fly his unique aircraft on solo trips around the Central Coast.
In the years since, however, Breese — who lost vision in his left eye and suffered a brain injury in a high-speed crash 15 years ago — earned a full-fledged pilot’s license in the summer of 2008 and the right to legally carry passengers. And that’s a good thing, because Breese and his girlfriend, Edna Arlt, are pursuing a dream of flying cross-country in a new gyroplane that they are designing and building with the help of friends.
Their goal is to arrange a publishing deal before the journey and create a coffee table book about their adventures along the way, documenting what they call a “Route 66 in the sky.”
Breese and Arlt, who had been a couple years earlier, reunited shortly after Arlt read that article about Breese in the Times in January 2008. When Breese invited Arlt to the Santa Maria Airport to see the gyroplane at his hangar, Arlt was not impressed. “I thought he was insane,” she said with a laugh. “It doesn’t even look like it can fly.”
Gyroplanes, also known as autogyros, are a type of aircraft with an unpowered rotor for lift and an engine-powered propellor for thrust. Developed in the 1920s by a Spanish engineer, gyroplanes have a small but devout following in the U.S. and abroad.
Despite her initial misgivings, Arlt eventually became a gyroplane convert and is now just as passionate about the machine as Breese is. During their flights in the two-seater, Arlt snaps pictures from her bird’s-eye view behind the pilot’s seat, listens for any unusual rumblings from the craft and works as a spotter, alerting Breese to other pilots in their immediate air space.
“We’ve had some close calls,” Arlt said, adding “we’re kind of small up there and blend into the sky.”
A bright color scheme for higher visibility is one of a litany of improvements Breese and Arlt have in store for the new version of their gyroplane. The updated machine will replace the Predator, which Breese purchased from a friend in the fall of 2007.
Breese, an engineer at heart and the son of Vance Breese Sr., a renowned pilot who tested many of the planes flown by the Allies in World War II, is excited to shepherd his new gyroplane from the design stage to reality. “It will be a better machine in a lot of ways,” he said, noting that the navigation systems and additional creature comforts will make the open-cockpit vehicle, tentatively named the Mariah Gale, that much more enjoyable to fly.
Breese recently turned 61 and considers himself incredibly lucky to be alive and pursuing his passion for flying.
Doctors once thought he’d barely be able to walk and talk after his crash in 1995, which occurred at more than 260 miles per hour as he was trying to set a land-speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on a specialized motorcycle called a streamliner. He credits Jodi House, a treatment center in Solvang for people with brain injuries, with helping him find ways to cope with the frustrations of living with disabilities resulting from his crash. Those include difficulty multitasking and speech aphasia, a language impairment that sometimes leaves Breese searching for the right words to express himself.
“I feel very grateful,” Breese said, adding that his survival and recovery are due to a combination of determination and luck. “A lot of people I raced with are dead or crippled and can’t do the things I’m doing,” Breese said. “I try to spend time each day being grateful for the gifts I have.”
After owning the Santa Maria Harley Davidson dealership for more than a decade, then developing and marketing software to help other motorcycle dealers run their businesses more efficiently, Breese is looking forward to the freedom and adventure of the cross-country journey he and Arlt are planning.
They are plotting a coast-to-coast itinerary that includes aviation events, visits to small regional airports and a lot of reunions with friends and fellow gyroplane enthusiasts. Breese expects to complete his new gyroplane within a year. The couple wants to set out on their cross-country odyssey no later than the summer of 2012.
“It’s got romance. It’s got old people having fun. It’s got impossible dreams,” Breese said. “How could it not work?”
By Mark Brown / Staff Writer / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Monday, August 2, 2010
Airport welcomes nearly 70 Marines with SM-style feast
By Julian J. Ramos
Nearly 70 Marines from Camp Pendleton are among the newest fans of Santa Maria-style barbeque.
Members of the Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 were the guests of honor Tuesday at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight for a barbeque that doubles as a “thank you” for their service.
The Marines landed at the Santa Maria Public Airport in a dozen helicopters made up of CH-46 Sea Knights, AH-1W Super Cobras, and UH-1Y Yankees.
Capt. Jason Harris of HMM(T)-164, a Sea Knight transport helicopter pilot, said the tri-tip sandwich lunch was a welcome diversion from the daily routine. “It’s always great to see a sign of support from the public,” the Orange County native and a veteran of three Iraq tours said shortly after entering the museum to a standing ovation from the crowd that included Major Larry Lavagnino.
The trip up the coast to Santa Maria served as a reward for the hard work of support crews who make flying helicopter possible, said Capt. Chris Cayere of HMLA-169, a Yankee utility helicopter pilot from Oakland. In the Marines for five years, Cayere has served one tour in Afghanistan.
Most of the Marines, 60 of them, were from HMLA-169 – a squadron scheduled for a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in November.
Pfc. Erik Everard, a Michigan native who works as an avionics technician with HMLA-169, had never flown in a helicopter until the trip from San Diego County to Santa Maria. Everard, in the marines for less than two years, had never tasted Santa Maria-style barbeque before Tuesday either. “Fantastic!” he said of Santa Maria’s signature meal.
July 28, 2010