Up, up and away: Hull-Daisetta HS student, aspiring pilot shares experiences from Wings Over Houston

USAF Thunderbirds perform a low pass with smoke.

By Kendryck “Tank” Parrish, Hull-Daisetta High School student and aspiring pilot

This year marked the 39th Anniversary of the Commemorative Air Force’s Wings Over Houston Airshow, which first took flight in 1984, at the Ellington Airport. This year, the finale performer was the United States Air Force Thunderbirds in the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons, although there were other performances and sights that some could say were just as impressive as the Thunderbirds.

One of the greatest performances was put together by the Commemorative Air Force and the United States Air Force Air Combat Command, this being the “Heritage Flight” between the North American P-51D Mustang, which was one of the superior fighting aircraft of World War II for the United States, and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. This particular flight shows how its technology, not just the structure of the aircraft, has changed since the 1940s.

Continuing the theme of aviation history, there were numerous appearances by old timers within the Aviation Industry with aircraft such as T-6 Texans, B-17 Superfortress, and the B-52H Stratofortress, all of which played a vital role in defending the United States of America, along with an assortment of other aircraft.

“TORA! TORA! TORA!” also performed at the Wings Over Houston Airshow. The purpose of this specific flight demonstration team was to perform a re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which prompted the United States to enter World War II. Joining the Japanese Zeros were United States T-6 Texans, P-40 Warhawks, and even a B-25 Mitchell Bomber that took part in the Doolittle raid. The explosions on the other side of the runway made it feel as if you were watching the entire attack in person. Some of the Japanese Zeros even had dummy torpedoes strapped to the bottom of the aircraft. Dive after dive, the bombers kept coming.

Technology is changing every day. It is making the aviation industry more efficient, using less fuel to go faster and to do things that haven’t been done before. This has been proven with the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, performing high speed passes going Mach 1.6, or about 1,228 miles per hour. That’s pretty fast for mankind. A female who was pretty experienced with stealth fighters was piloting the Lightning II. Captain Kristin “Beo” Wolfe, from the 388th Fighter Wing, transferred from the F-22 Raptor to the F-35A Lightning II, and flew the performance for the Wings Over Houston Airshow in 2023.

There were numerous outstanding static displays put on by the North American Space Administration (NASA) as well as the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the Navy, along with the Lone Star Flight Museum, and other numerous vendors and aircraft companies. Some of the aircraft that were open to the public were the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III, WC-130J Weather-Bird, and many more. All of the aircraft that were on the taxiways were still flying and able to be operated.

Some of the notable displays were performed by Rick Sharpe with the MiG-15, Mike “Spanky” Galloway with the Extra 300/GX, and the United States Coast Guard Search and Rescue with the Eurocopter MH-65 Dolphin, along with the RE/MAX Skydiving Team.

There was also an adjustment to the Wings Over Houston Airshow Schedule on Saturday, Oct. 14, to accommodate the annular solar eclipse. Special sunglasses could be picked up for free at any of the admission booths as well as the media tent.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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