Hornet planes make visit to Columbia

Saturday, May 17, 2008 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:00 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Capt. Billy Mitchell of the Canadian Armed Forces has been flying a CF-18 Hornet for four years, logging more than 1,000 hours at its controls.

But the Memorial Day weekend’s Salute to Veterans Airshow marks his demonstration debut.

If you go

WHAT: Salute to Veterans airshow WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday WHERE: Columbia Regional Airport COST: Free PARKING: Free. Shuttle buses are available from MU’s Hearnes Center and from the Jefferson City Memorial Airport for $2 per person for a round trip. Folding chairs and collapsible strollers are OK, but no coolers will be allowed on the shuttles or at the air show. Airshow Events Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. — Buses begin departing from the MU Hearnes Center parking lot and from Jefferson City Memorial Airport. 9:30 a.m. — Gates open at the airshow 10 a.m.: (events run throughout the day) — Salute to World War II veterans: B-25 Mitchell Bombers — Salute to Korean and Vietnam War veterans: A-1 Skyraider — Salute to the Special Operations Forces: the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team, the Black Daggers — U.S. Army K-9 Corps demonstration — Salute to the National Solemn Ceremony: National anthems of the United States and Canada, 21-gun salute, reading of the 225 names from the Veterans Memorials at the Boone County Courthouse, honoring those veterans who gave their lives in service to their country from World War I to the present. — The ceremony continues as the honored guests, Tuskegee Airmen and Women Airforce Service Pilots, march to Show Central led by the bagpipers. — Introduction of honored guests and reunion groups — Bagpipers concert — Salute to our allies: the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, the SkyHawks, will descend to the U.S. and Canadian national anthems — U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt West Coast Demonstration Team — P-51 Mustang Heritage Flight with the A-10 Thunderbolt team — SNJ Texan aerobatic demonstration — CF-18 Hornet Canadian National Demonstration Team — Trojan Phylers T-28 demonstration — U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet West Coast Tactical Demonstration Team 3:30 p.m. — Airshow closes Monday 9:55 a.m. — Salute to Veterans Parade in downtown Columbia that begins with the Black Daggers parachuting into six intersections on Broadway. The parade features more than 155 units, including veterans, military displays, floats and bands. A military ceremony immediately follows at the Veterans Memorials outside the Boone County Courthouse. 10:45 a.m. — Military Ceremony, Boone County Courthouse.

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“I’ve been getting ready,” Mitchell said. “Columbia will be my first show in front of the big crowd.”

The Canadian CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team will fly military maneuvers exactly as they would in wartime, all while giving the public a chance to see a high-performance fighter aircraft, said Mary McCleary Posner, founder of the air show.

“They are flying, in effect, the art of their aircraft, meaning that it’s a training exercise for them to fly the demonstration,” Posner said.

This year is the Hornet demo team’s first appearance at the air show. The stop in Columbia is one of only three U.S. performances, the other two in Salinas, Calif., and Oceana, Fla. The team will also perform 16 shows in Canada and one in the United Kingdom.

Mitchell said the CF-18’s maneuverability allows for a fairly tight show, which spectators should enjoy.

“The ability of this aircraft to max perform while keeping it in front of the crowd is what sets it apart,” he said.

Mitchell and the previous demo pilot have been practicing the demonstration by starting at 1,000 feet and working down to 300 feet, the height at which the 12-minute show will take place.

Posner arranged for the team’s appearance at the air show last December while attending the International Council of Air Shows convention in Las Vegas. She spoke personally with Mitchell, who had recently been named pilot of the demonstration team.

Mitchell said Posner and the other organizers were extremely hospitable, which played a large part in the decision to come to Columbia.

“It just seems like a great way to kick off the season, combining Memorial Day with a salute to veterans,” he said.

Posner said inviting the Canadian demonstration team is a reflection of the Salute to Veterans mission statement, which is, “To honor and remember those who served, those currently serving in our Armed Forces, Guard, Reserves and our Allies.”

This year’s Hornet will display the North American Aerospace Defense Command emblem, which represents the unity between the U.S. and Canada, in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The aircraft will be painted in celebration of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary as well, Mitchell said.

“They’re helping us celebrate our 20th anniversary,” Posner said. “We are very honored to be able to honor them as an ally.”

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