By Ryan Lengerich
At 12.55 p.m. the skies opened up and the stunts got wilder at the 11th annual Tucumcari Rotary Club Air Show.
An overcast and cold morning was a sharp contrast from the afternoon, when clear skies and sun led to sunburned foreheads for those on hand at Wednesday’s event.
“The crowd was as good as we have ever had,” said show organizer Bob McClelland Jr.
He did not have an official gate count, but expected ticket sales to help the show come near breaking even financially, a tough task when the show’s fuel bill alone was more than $4,000.
The local schools let out at 12:30 p.m. and many businesses closed. New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez made the trek from Santa Fe for his first air show experience.
“Look around, you see nothing but family, all the kids walking around with parents and some grandparents,” Chavez said. “What you have there is community — people growing together and trusting each other.”
Throughout the show, spectators munched on turkey legs cooked in various ways. The sno-kone booth had a line ten deep and air conditioned flight simulator was a break from the sun.
Tony Lopez of Tucumcari watched the show with his son “Little” Tony and daughter Emily. Lopez has been attending the show for the last four years.
“Everybody likes it out here, there is not too much that goes on around here so this is pretty exciting,” Lopez said. “My kids seem to love it and everybody else is having a good time.”
In addition to the main acts, the show also attracts static displays and national aviation related businesses. Mike Mosher, Student Recruitment Coordinator at the Westwind School of Aeronautics spent the day showing off the school’s PA44 Seminole. Mosher travels to shows throughout the country promoting his school and the aviation industry.
“I love little kids and older people because it just helps the aviation industry in general,” he said. “I actually like these smaller shows because you get to meet the hometown people and kids that don’t normally have a chance, get a chance to see this stuff.”
About halfway through the show an A10 Warthog flew along side former astronaut Frank Borman in his WWII era P-51 Mustang in the USAF Heritage Flight, uniting the past with the present. Patriotic music and bag pipes played in the background as the crowd watched in silence.
“I walked by a lady that had tears running down her face,” McClelland said. “It almost brought me to tears.”