Friday, August 5, 2011

Thunderbirds Return to Pease

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
It’s been 25 years since the United States Air Force Thunderbirds have performed in the Seacoast, but their long awaited return will be accomplished next weekend.
The F-16 Fighting Falcons with the easily recognized red, white and blue design will headline the Service Credit Union Boston–Portsmouth Air Show at the Pease International Trade Port Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13-14.
A year ago, a crowd estimated at 70,000 attended the two-day event that featured the United States Navy’s Blue Angels and a crowd of similar size is anticipated this year, said Herb Gillen, spokesperson for the show. Those returning to this year’s event will find several changes to enhance their enjoyment of the festivities.
Gillen said one of the top concerns following last year’s show was the handling of traffic and soon after the event, meetings were held with safety officials to come up with “a better plan this year.”
He said the parking plan has been refined and “a more coordinated effort” is in place to move people on and off the trade port. He added, however, it would still be best to “get there early” as “there’s plenty to see.”
There will also be “heavy emphasis” on water and helping people “stay cool” during the show. Free water will be available from Monadnock Mountain Spring Water of New Hampshire and water will also be sold at a reduced rate.
In addition, a concerted effort has been made to secure large-scale static airplanes to help provide shade in the main spectator area.
Gillen said Portsmouth Regional Hospital is establishing water and misting stations and more concession areas have been increased from 18 to 37 to reduce the time spent in line a year ago.
A heat index flag system has been established and the show announcer will stress the need for people to keep hydrated during the show.
Military demonstrations by the United States Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, the Navy F-18 Super Hornet and the New Hampshire Air National Guard KC-135 are scheduled. The Super Hornet will also be featured in the Navy’s Legacy Flight with an F4U Corsair.
Civilian aerobatic displays include the National Aviation Hall of Famer Sean D. Tucker, New England native Michael Goulian, and Jason Newburg.
Teams performing include Team AeroShell with four AT-6 “Texans,” The Northeast Raiders flying Yakovlev 52’s and Nanchang CJ6’s, and Team Heavy Metal; a new jet demonstration team flying four L-39’s and one T-33.
The show will also have MIG-17 and P-51 Mustang demonstrations as well as a solo demo by the F4U Corsair.
There will also be a large number of on-ground aircraft displays and the popular Kidz’ Zone Play Area.
Tickets for the show are available at The Service Credit Union Boston–Portsmouth Air Show is again being jointly produced by the Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America and the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
At a recent press conference announcing the various aspects of the show, Steve Wade, CEO, of the Brain Injury Association said: “We are excited to once again bring a world-class lineup to our air show fans throughout New England. Pease will be rocking with the Thunderbirds and this phenomenal lineup.”
Michael Kaufman, CEO of the Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America detailed the show’s enhancements for 2011. “We are very excited for the show and know that these site enhancements will go a long way to improving the fan experience this year. We are thrilled to have such strong community and business support to the make the air show a success.”
Photo caption: The United States Air Force Thunderbirds will perform a long-awaited return performance at Pease International Trade Port August 13-14. (Photo courtesy