Air Show Gets Under Way At Santa Maria Public Airport

John Collver described the feeling of zooming over the Santa Maria air show crowd in his World War II fighter plane War Dog as similar to a race car driver hugging the curves of a track.  “You feel the G forces and centrifugal force in demonstrating what your airplane is capable of doing,” he said, standing beside his AT-6/SNJ, a World War II era trainer that is based in the Los Angeles area.  “It’s kind of nice to share what you do in the air show arena and being able to come back and talk to the people after the show is over and get their impressions of everything,” Collver added.

Collver was one of the pilots who performed aerial demonstrations Saturday at the 25th annual Thunder Over the Valley air show at the Santa Maria Public Airport. The event, which continues today, is organized by the Santa Maria Museum of Flight. The gate opens at 10 a.m.  “It’s nice to show primarily the younger generation what grandpa used to fly, and it’s a piece of flying history, and it’s and very important thing,” Collver continued.

Youngsters and senior citizens alike, along with ages in between, gathered in lawn chairs or stood to watch the aerial shows Saturday afternoon.  Eyes darted across the sky as a P-51 Mustang soared by.  Later, a roaring F/A-18 Hornet prompted some to cover their ears as they kept their gaze skyward.

Grover Beach resident Raymond Yamamoto described the air show as “fantastic,” even as he said the crowd and display of planes on the ground appeared to be much less than when he last attended the show as a volunteer in 2005.  “It’s a good show. I still enjoy it,” Yamamoto said.  He especially liked seeing a Steerman plane in flight, Yamamoto said, motioning to the aircraft that was parked nearby.

Crystal Sauceda from Santa Maria came to the air show with her husband and his father, the couple’s 6-week-old infant and Sauceda’s mother, who was visiting from Arizona.  Baby Luke, nestled in a front carrier on Sauceda’s chest, didn’t seem to mind the noisy planes.  “Now he’s falling asleep finally,” she said. “At first when we brought him out in the sun, we were kind of unsure of how he’d be, but he’s just fine.”  Sauceda enjoyed watching the aerial show.  “It was cool to see them chasing each other,” she said of the planes. “And when they go up and it looks like they’re just floating in the air.”

The planes on the ground, including a display of realistic model planes, also drew interested attendees.  Other attractions included a flight simulator and vendors.

A pair of friends from Lompoc, 15-year-old Anthony Dickson and 17-year-old Vanya Erickson, took the opportunity to sit inside the cockpit of an Osprey.  “The plane’s very unique. It’s complicated to figure out,” remarked Dickson. “I kind of looked around, observed all of the controls, all of the navigational tools.”  Dickson hopes to one day pilot such a plane.  “I’ve always dreamed of being a pilot, of being in the Air Force or being in the Marines,” he added.

August 26, 2012  •  By Samantha Yale Scroggin/Staff Writer/sscroggin@santamariatimes.com

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