Rockford Airfest

Our first airshow of our 8th season, was Rockford. Normally, we like to get a few flights under our belt before we tackle bad weather, but we had to jump right into IFR conditions on our first trip to Rockford, and we need two legs to get there. We stopped for fuel in Ohio and the ground crew there was excellent.  We were fueled and ready to go in only a few minutes.  That was flight number 199 for the SHAR. Flight #200 milestone was reached on the second flight into Rockford. We were met by a news crew and 12 minutes after I landed, I was live on the evening news.  I barely had time for a bathroom break, but made it in time for the interview.  The airplane was still quite warm. I emphasized that 200 flights is a significant milestone.  There are many airplanes that never make it to 200 flights, but we have.  That itself is a tribute to the entire team to keep the airplane flying and safely.  We may still have enough engine life to complete one more season, if we can keep our hands off the throttle.  We measure our engine life in hours (like most other airplanes) and with engine COUNTS.  A COUNT is a non-dimensional representation of engine life and is directly related to the engine temperature.  The higher the engine temperature, the more counts generated.  Just like with engine hours, we have a finite number of counts until overhaul.  Whichever limit we reach first, we need to change the engine.  So far, we’re tracking our counts with hours, both on the same line.  So we may have another season before changing the engine. Friday is usually practice day.  Since we didn’t need the practice, we elected to stand down. That saved engine life as well. Saturday, was a full-up airshow. We made our takeoff time, and performed multiple simulated bombing runs with explosives. That’s not only fun for ME, but the crowd really like the bombs.  We then did some aerobatics to burn down fuel and a couple of hovers – – at each end of the crowd. Sunday, the weather was forecast to be horrible. There was concern IF there would be a show at all.  But by show time, we were good to go.  But not so for some of the other acts.  When they dropped out, we were asked to do double-duty.  Like the professionals they are, the crew chipped in, got the airplane re-watered and refueled.  I stayed in the cockpit.  Joe and I coordinated what – -exactly we were going to do.  The pyro would not be available the second time around, so we added to maneuvers to demonstrate the VSTOL capability of the airplane.  Lots of fun! We had hoped to schedule another airshow between Rockford and our next airshow at Genaseo, NY over a month later, but instead had to bring the airplanes back to St. Mary’s.  Another two legs and another 2,000 gallons of jet fuel.

Updated: August 3, 2015 — 9:42 pm
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