Air Show Narration & Sound
307 West Fredericks Street
Anderson, South Carolina 29625
Carolina Airshows, a Personal History
This is a work in progress
Putting together the Skyhawks page on this site made me realize how much aviation and airshow history I have personally enjoyed.
I've been able to work and fly with the likes of Bob Nance, Bevo Howard, Dexter Martin, Bob Russell, Dwight Cross Jr., Jim Holland, Johnny Crowell, Ben Huntley, Steve Whitman, Tom Davis, Len Povey, and many many more.
The idea hit me that, before my memory completely fails, I should make an effort to recount this personal journey through airshow history. Like your neighbors vacation slides (now videos) this could be boring but, indulge me, it could also be interesting.
My first airshow was sometime in the early '50's at the Open House of Donaldson AFB, Greenville SC. Too young to remember much (funny how that happens at both ends of your life), I must have fallen asleep on the backseat of Dad's car in the traffic jam to get on base. I awoke to the sounds of four big radials engines as a C-124 "Globe Monster" rumbled over the base.
As a Cub Scout (1956) in Jackson, Mississippi I got my first "airplane ride;" in a Mississippi National Guard OH-13 (Bell 47) helicopter. As with the EAA "Young Eagles" program, you never know where a little exposure at a young age will lead; so spend some time with that wide eyed sticky fingered kid - might lead somewhere
For many years, the Open House at Fort Jackson, Columbia SC, was the limit of my exposure to military aviation. Back about 1960, Fort Jackson even fed the attendees at its Open House, that is until massive food poisoning sicken a good portion of the Columbia population - end of Fort Jackson Open House.
The next major exposure to airshows was the Thunderbirds at Shaw AFB, circa 1961.
(USAF Photo Thunderbirds F-100C unknown location and/or date)
I was hooked. By 1966, I was jumping out of airplanes. In 1968 I start flight training at Newberry SC under an instructor who had taught at Southern Airways during WWII, Edmond O. Shealy. Aircraft of choice was a Piper J-3, NC42595. Also that year was my first airshow as the self-retrieving wind dummy for Fort Jackson Sport Parachute Team.
On the "inside" of the crowd line, I started to learn a little of the history of airshows, I wish I had paid more attention.
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge Poster size)
Circa 1929, Maynard Field, Kernersville NC. Thanks to Billy Poley
Circa 1929, Greensboro NC. Thanks to Billy Poley
Circa 1938, Lilan VA. Thanks to "Toby" West
Circa 1952, Charlotte NC. Thanks to Ben F. Huntley
Circa 1968, Andrews-Murphy NC. Thanks to Ben Huntley
"That is one of the first shows where Sandi rode the wing and I often talk of Bevo (Howard) and I flying down the railroad track together until just past Augusta when he peeled off at a fork and headed south. I found out he had flown a small show that day at Warner-Robbins that we did not even know about. Ben Huntley flew a comedy act in a J-3 with flour sacks on the wing tips and it looked like the tips were smoking when he would touch them on the ground." Walt Pierce
Walt's a great repository of airshow history and our paths have overlapped many times. Here's another of his stories:
"I did a skywriting job in Charlotte in about June of 1975 on my way back from a show in NJ. It was a promotion for Southern National Banks' new building, I did a couple of radio talk shows about skywriting and "STUNT" flying. The only household name in the Carolinas was Johnny Crowell. About every third call was someone who had seen him fly and had walked away with a lifetime impression.
"At that time Jim Holland and Lindsey Hess or maybe John Stone were still flying Carowinds. ( Like I said earlier, my memory is fading in spots.)"