Air show offers high-flying fun

William Thompson

The Tucumcari Rotary Club Air Show is set for Sept. 29 at the Tucumcari Municipal Airport. The Rotary Club’s Bob McClelland, Jr. said up to 40 planes will be on display, many of them performing aerobatics.

“The Canadian Snowbirds, a 9-jet military team will be flying “Tutor’ jets wingtip to wingtip,” said McClelland. “They do loops flying wingtip-to-wingtip and two of the planes break off and fly at each other, turning their wings at the last second. Most military flying teams say the wingtip-to-wingtip maneuvers are the most difficult of all.” In addition to the Canadian team, many historic U.S. Air Force jets and planes will be on hand. McClelland is anxious to see a P-38 aircraft this year. “The P-38 is my favorite plane,” he said. “It was one of the fastest planes in World War II. The top ace of World War II flew a P-38.”

McClelland said the Rotary air show rivals many top shows around the country. “It’s as good a show as any because it’s held on a Wednesday,” he said. “We get many of the big acts. The U.S. Air Force is bringing several transport planes and the F6F “Wildcat” jet, an F8F jet and an SNJ-S jet. There will also be a Japanese “Zero” at the show.”

Ben Arenas, a senior at Tucumcari High School, remembers the flying and the food from last year’s show.
“I really liked the turkey legs,” he said. “I saw a man in a glider pulled up into the sky by a plane. After he got his altitude he glided down with smoke coming out of the sides of his glider.” Arenas said he wants to see some acts he missed last year. “I’m really looking forward to the Canadian Snowbirds,” he said. “The air show has gotten me interested in aviation over the years. Everybody I know goes to the show.”

One of the highlights of this year’s show is a flight simulator.
“In the simulator, you are strapped in and it spins you around and turns you upside down,” said McClelland. “It has a screen which can simulate a variety of planes.” Area schools will be letting students out to attend the show this year. Food booths will be in abundance, many of them operated by school groups. “Tucumcari schools let out for the whole day,” said McClelland. “It’s a good way for the students to raise money.”

Gates will open at 10 a.m. Flying teams will take to the skies shortly after noon and fly non-stop until around 4 p.m.
“We will have planes from the California Commemorative Air Force and the Colorado Commemorative Air Force,” said McClelland, “and the Red Baron Pizza Squadron will be here also. The show is a great family event. Many people come from West Texas and other parts of New Mexico.” Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets are on sale now at all local banks, the State Farm Insurance Agency, Bob’s Pharmacy and Shipley Systems.