Air Show Narration & Sound
307 West Fredericks Street
Anderson, South Carolina 29625
Carolina Airshows, a Personal History
This is a work in progress
It was during the mid '70's that I switched from jumping/flying jumpers and started narrating airshows. This was actually precipitated by the Arab Oil Embargo and the political response to the fuel shortage.
During the late '60's through 1973 both US Jet Teams were flying the Viet Nam era F-4 Phantom and could no longer justify the high specific fuel consumption of the twin General Electric J79-GE-8B/C engines in light of long gasoline lines for the civilian population. In fact, there was talk in the Halls of Congress of grounding the teams.
The politically expedient solution was smaller planes. In 1974 the Navy Blue Angles transitioned to the McDonald Douglas A-4F Skyhawk, replacing the F-4J's they had flown since 1969. The USAF Thunderbirds moved into the Northrop T-38 Talon, a supersonic trainer.
The results of these changes was that the Teams could now fly out of smaller airport with shorter runways - like Anderson SC.
I had already been announcing at smaller shows, the result of an local radio personality leaving me "holding the Mic" in Conway SC. A Jet Team show seemed like the big time, but Walt Wilder of the Hejaz Shrine Air Squadron, encouraged me and Stoia, the principal curator of the Wings & Wheels Museum in Santee SC, gave me the final shove toward the narrator's stand. I did not make a total fool of myself and my airshow career jogged into a different direction.
I've been asked why I spell airshow as one word: maybe this picture for 1979 can answer the question.
Along with Sonny Caraway (lower center), I was crewing and announcing for Russ Appleton. Pitts driver (top right) and Bobby Jonte, AT-6 pilot (lower left).
If you discern the acronym of Air Show South you understand why airshow is one word.
I needed this 1981 picture when my legitimacy as a U.A.G. (United Airshow Grunts) member was questioned by those not familiar with the total duties of "narrator" include. Climbing up the side of a T-6 with 5 gallons of smoke oil is NOT the equivalent of a ride in the hero car! That's Bobby Jonte supervising his announcer in the fine point of smoke oil soaked -6 climbing.
In the '70 & 80's Antique Fly-Ins were popular. I was right in the middle of these goings on, flying our Chipmunks (even able to buy 80 octane avgas) around the country. Camden SC was a hot spot of antique activity and every fall Antique Chapter 3, EAA had its fall Fly-In.
We usually had 300+ planes visit over the two and a half days (everybody was gone by noon Sunday) and to walk among the likes of Curtis Robins and WACOs was pure delight.
Bill Hawkins recruited me to act as Air Traffic Control (one of my RVN jobs) for those weekends. Here's a couple pictures from the Fall 1984 event. If you've got good eyes and imagination, you can see Clif (#1 son) and myself atop the black roofed hanger:
Click on the pictures (L to R) and check my count: 159 aircraft parked on the field in Bill Hawkins' overhead shot. A bunch of pilots telling lies in front of the old Ops Building (right of the EZ) at this WWII Southern Airways training field. (another great picture from Joe Swearingen). And just in case your have poor imagination, what a 1980's Airboss Team looks like (photo taken at Burlington, NC).
Here's what the field looked like 40 years before (anyone for a surplus airplane?):