We are pleased to have Larry Rutt, the "voice of experience," return as the official announcer for the 2013 Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Air Show. Rutt has been announcing air shows since 1976. Rutt relates to the performers because in his 40 plus years of aviation experiencehe he has jumped out of airplanes as a skydiver, judged and competed in aerobatic contests and danced the skies in 37 different aircraft from his tiny Pitts Special to the gigantic Boeing 747-400. With that depth of experience, Rutt's descriptions will put you right inside the cockpit.
U.S. Air force Thunderbirds
The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, performs precision aerial maneuvers demonstrating the capabilities of Air Force high performance aircraft to people throughout the world. The squadron exhibits the professional qualities the Air Force develops in the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft. A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-aircraft diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the solo aircraft highlight the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The pilots perform approximately 30 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about an hour and fifteen minutes.
U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
The United States Army Parachute Team, nicknamed “The Golden Knights,” is the U.S. Army’s official aerial demonstration team. The Team travels around the United States, performing parachute demonstrations at air shows, major league football and baseball games, and special events, connecting the Army with the American people. The demonstration teams perform more than 100 demonstrations a year with the help of the Team’s four dedicated aircraft. The Team represents the finest of Soldiers and personifies the Army Values, showing the world the professionalism, precision, and discipline of today’s modern Army.
Bill Finagin, the 2008 International Hall of Fame honoree, flys the Pitts S2C aircraft, the latest in the long line of aerobatic aircraft designed by Curtis Pitts. This is a 100 % factory aircraft with no modifications. Bill has been flying acrobatics since 1980 and even sometimes before that as he received his pilot’s license in 1955. He has won over 45 championship contests and was twice awarded the Pitts trophy, the only recipient to receive it more than one time. While amassing over 11,000 hours of training people in the Pitts aircraft alone Bill has managed to fly air shows all over the Eastern United States for over 30 years. This Pitts aircraft is his 5th Air Show airplane.
Jerry began flying in 1995, and was instantly hooked on aerobatics. He began flying airshows in 2003 in a Pitts biplane that he built. Jerry's current airplane is a Bucker Jungmeister. This is a 1930's German Biplane which is still one of the best aerobatic airplanes ever built. The airplane is painted in the markings of the Swiss Air Force. Jerry will also perform in the Extra 300. This is a German monoplane designed for aerobatic competition and air shows. This airplane was previously flown by the Halcones, the Chilean Air Force demo team and still carries that paint scheme.
Charlie Schwenker started flying in sailplanes in 1975 and went on to earn a FAI Gold Badge with one "Diamond" for a flight over 300 kilometers (nearly 200 miles) and has climbed to 18,000 feet - all without a motor. In 1990, Schwenker started flying competition aerobatics and still competes when time allows. He as won the Canadian National Aerobatic Championship and regional International Aerobatic Club contests up and down the east coast.He started flying air shows to share his love of aerobatics with the public. Schwenker currently flies an Extra 300, a German monoplane designed for aerobatic competition and air shows. It weighs around 1,500 pounds and has a roll rate of about 400 degrees per second.
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