The annual fall air show in Rome has served as host to a number of top military and civilian pilots and demonstration teams; however, the 2020 Wings Over North Georgia Drive-In Air Show will host a number of acts for the first time this Saturday and Sunday.
“We work diligently every year to include a line-up of world-class aviators,” said JLC AirShow Management President John Cowman. “For the 2020 show, we have the strongest military line-up ever hosted in our eight-year history and are also fortunate to feature a number of performers for the first time during our event, including the Black Daggers U.S.
Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team, C-17 Globemaster, F-16 Viper, Matt Younkin in his Beech 18, Jive Kerby in his T-28 and Larry Kelly in his B-25 called Panchito.”
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team, the Black Daggers, will open the show each day during opening ceremonies with an abbreviated aerial demonstration. They will return later in the show for an extended performance, dropping from an altitude of 12,500 feet and free-falling for about two miles at approximately 120 mph. The ram-air parachutes utilized by the team allows jumpers to carry an extra 100 pounds in weight when dropping behind enemy lines.
The C-17 Globemaster will also participate in opening ceremonies and will serve as the launch aircraft for the elite group of skydivers and later return for a full demonstration. The C-17 Globemaster II West Coast Demo Team, piloted by Maj Nick Cobilo, is assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing and is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. As the newest and most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force, the Globemaster was designed to rapidly and strategically deliver troops and cargo to bases in deployment areas. The C-17 helps sustain combat forces near potential battle areas as well as assisting with humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon, affectionately called the “Viper” by many of its pilots, is a fourth-generation fighter with incredible capabilities. The aircraft is a single-seat, multi-mission fighter with the ability to switch from an air-to-ground to air-to-air role at the touch of a button. Powered by a General Electric engine generating more than 31,000 pounds of thrust, the “Viper” can reach speeds in excess of twice the speed of sound. Maj Garret “Toro” Schmitz serves as the F-16 Viper Demo Team commander and pilot. The team is based at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC.
Aside from the new military demonstrations, there will be first time performances in northwest Georgia by Matt Younkin, Jive Kerby, and Larry Kelly.
Mr. Younkin flies one of the most unusual performances on the air show circuit in his Twin Beech 18. The vintage aircraft was never built for aerobatics; however, under the control off the elite aviator, the somewhat obese aircraft performs maneuvers gracefully and with poise to choreographed and light-hearted music.
Jerry “Jive” Kerby also will take to the skies in his T-28 Trojan. This warbird aircraft was used by the U.S. Navy and Air Force as a training aircraft in the early 1950’s. As a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, Lt Col Kerby extracts every ounce of energy possible from this vintage plane to feature the capabilities and maneuvers taught to early aviators.
Panchito, a B-25 bomber, provides a true sense of nostalgia and reminders of WWII-era movies. Panchito was part of the 41st Bombardment Group and operated in the Central Pacific Theater from Dec. 1943 to Oct. 1944. The 41st flew more than 240 missions, often at low altitudes against Japanese ships. This is a true piece of aviation history and a rare opportunity to view this WWII-era warbird piloted by Larry Kelly.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will headline the 2020 Wings Over North Georgia Drive-In Air Show in addition to the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II. Other returning acts include Scott Farnsworth in his L-39, Mike Wiskus in his Pittts S-1-11B, Michael Goulian in his Extra 330SC, Buck Roetman in his Pitts S2S, and Scott Yoak in his P-51 Mustang.
Parking gates open at 10 a.m. and pre-show aerial demonstrations begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Pre-show activities include airdrops and capabilities demonstrations from C-130-H3 Hercules aircraft from Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The SWAT Tactical Team from the Georgia State Patrol helicopter unit also will conduct demonstrations.
Opening ceremonies and flying demonstrations will kick-off each day at about 12:30 p.m. Parking tickets for the Drive-In Air Show are advance purchase only and will not be sold on show days. Those interested in attending the event should purchase early before tickets are sold out, officials said.
Each vehicle will be assigned a 10-by-20-foot space with an adjacent 10-by-20-foot private viewing area for tailgating. Guests are allowed to bring their own chairs, tables, non-alcoholic beverages and food. Beverages and food also will be available for sale on site. Portable restrooms and wash stations will be placed throughout the venue and will be sanitized hourly. A mask is required when air show attendees leave their parking areas for rest room and concession visits. For a full list of permitted and restricted items and rules, visit Wings Over North Georgia for more details.
For information on drive-in parking tickets, event FAQs and a complete list of performers, follow the air show’s Facebook page or visit the Wings Over North Georgia website at https://www.WingsOverNorthGeorgia.com.