By Samantha Yale Scroggin/Staff Writer sscroggin@santamariatimes.com

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fox, who is stationed at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, enjoys smaller air shows such as Santa Maria’s Thunder Over the Valley because the stationary planes get some attention.  At larger shows, a barrage of flashy air tricks soak up everyone’s focus.  “I love coming to the smaller air shows because we’re actually a highlight,” Fox said, standing next to the E-2C Hawkeye radar plane he flew in on.

Fox answered questions Saturday from curious bystanders about the plane that is remaining on the ground during Thunder Over the Valley.  In another perk, Fox and the two other Naval aviators who arrived on the E-2C Hawkeye were met on the Central Coast by their wives, and the group is enjoying a mini vacation.

The Santa Maria Museum of Flight is hosting the annual event at the Santa Maria Public Airport that features vintage and modern warbirds, including a few fancy plane tricks in the sky.  This year’s show is saluting 100 years of Naval aviation. 

Thunder Over the Valley continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children ages 7 to 13 and $15 for a family of four. Parking is free with entrance available from Blosser Road, near Foster Road.

The Rice family from Grover Beach waited in line to get a closer look at a Camp Pendleton AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter used in ground attack.  Children were invited to sit in the cockpit, and Maj. Owen Coulman explained the Marine Corps pilots were making sure the youngsters didn’t push or kick any buttons they shouldn’t.  ‘We’ve got everything disconnected and unplugged,” he added.  Zachary Rice, 7, raved about his experience in the cockpit.  “It was awesome!” he exclaimed, jumping up and down. “I liked to press the gun-shooting button.”  Zachary’s mother, Liz Rice, had a good impression of her first Thunder Over the Valley.  “It’s really impressive, I think, and it’s nice having all the pilots to talk to,” she added.

Michael Metzler of Templeton succeeded in finding the time to make it to the Santa Maria air show after years of failed attempts. He was joined by his 10-year-old son, Neven.  “When you have three kids, there’s always something going on,” he said as aircraft zoomed by overhead, flying sideways and upside down.

The aerial display caused the crowd to step away from the static planes and stand with eyes fixed on the sky.  “It’s great,” Metzler said of the show. “The weather’s nice and it’s not too windy.”

A pair of 12-year-old twins from Santa Maria were having fun at Thunder Over the Valley.  “I like all the planes,” said Christopher Bouzard. “It’s fun to watch them fly around and stuff.”  His brother, Jacob Bouzard, said of the show “I think it’s fun because you get to see planes that you don’t see every day.”  Christopher said he would like to fly planes one day, but Jacob was less sure.  “It’s not my favorite thing to do,” Jacob added.

Santa Maria Times | Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011