Aerial acrobatics, vintage planes on display at Expo

A F-15e flies with a F-4 for a heritage flight Saturday at the Air Expo Show 2006 at Cannon Air Force Base. Heritage flights were first done in September 1997 for the 50th anniversary of the Air Force. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Paula Cronic: Freedom Newspapers

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — There was something for everybody at Saturday’s 2006 Air Expo.

1st Lt. Robert Palmer, 28, of Cannon was intrigued by the vintage planes, including the MIG-17s.

“I’m kind of a World War II nut so it’s kind of special when you get to see these planes fly and it isn’t in black and white footage,” said Palmer, who was attending his first air show.

For others, such as Doug Downs of Clovis, the star attraction was the aeronautical acrobatics of the Air Force Thunderbirds, who raced across the blue afternoon sky twisting and turning, flying upside down and side-by-side.

“I’ve been seeing them for years and years, and I enjoy bringing my sons to see them,” Downs said.

Other planes that performed in the air included the F-15 Strike Eagle Demo team, a P-40, a B-25 bomber and a couple of P-51s.

“My kids have never been to it so I thought it would be fun,” said Delanna Miller, 30, of Portales. Miller said she used to attend the shows all the time when she was a child. Her daughter, Rachel Miller, watched along with her, eating a snow cone.

Tom Dutton, 73, of Grand Junction, Colo., worked at the show all day, sitting at one of the plane exhibits, a Grumman TBM-3 Avenger. The plane, which was used during World War II, was set up so that children and adults could climb up and look into it.

“They’re not allowed to sit in it so that’s why I ask them (the kids) to read the sign,” Dutton said. “So they get information and they’re not just walking up and over it.”

Other static exhibits included the C-17, C-130 and a NASA F-18.

Another attraction for some were the food vendors.

“I’m enjoying the food,” said Courtney DeLong of Artesia. “I think (the air show) is great, it’s something I’ve never seen before,” she added.

“It’s interesting, a lot of things to see out here and a lot of things to eat,” said Sandra Gold, 19, of San Diego.

Staff Sgt. Craig Seals of Cannon’s public affairs office reported a solid turnout.

“While we don’t have an official count of how many attended the show today, we are fairly certain that the numbers are greater than last year. We had a lot more aircraft to show this year than last year, and we had the Thunderbirds, which are a larger draw,” he said.