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Thousands enjoy Thunder Over Dalhart

Posted by: tdt -

Thousands enjoy Thunder Over Dalhart

By Bill Kelly
The Dalhart Texan

The second biennial Thunder Over Dalhart Airshow was held at the Dalhart Municipal Airport on Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21. Although there was a chance of bad weather on Sunday, the airshow was able to go forward both days as thousands of spectators viewed the different acts, demonstrations, and other events that occurred over the weekend.

The gates for the show actually opened at 9 a.m. both days, giving those with tickets a chance to see many of the planes in advance and to see some of the other attractions that were available on what was basically a “midway.” There were multiple food vendors, both local vendors and vendors from other towns. There were bounce houses for young kids and a car show by Dalhart Cruzers.

Dewey Larson had his Top Gun Experience F/A-18 fighter Jet Cockpit at the show. Those who paid $10 were able to pick a helmet, climb into the jet and have their take photo taken, making them look like a fighter jet pilot, and there was a line to that attraction for much of the show. There were also Maverick and Iceman impersonators who took selfies with hundreds of those in attendance.

Before the show officially began at 1 p.m. on Saturday, a remotecontrolled F-16 was flown over the airshow. It was a 1/5 scale plane, meaning it is 1/5 the size of an actual F-16, but as it was being flown high above it was difficult to tell that it was a smaller version.

The show officially began with the Patriot Parachute Team, which jumped with both a huge American flag and huge Texas flag. The group Ladies for Liberty sang the National Anthem as the flags came into view of the crowd, and came back later to sing World War II era songs during the flight of the B-25 Devil Dog.

Mark Smith drove the world’s fastest jet truck “Aftershock, which can reach up to 407 mph. It bolted down the runway with a large flame shooting out the back and flames shooting up and out the exhaust pipes, and the flames were hot enough to be felt by spectators near the railing. Smith came back later in the show with a similar performance, and also sped the truck down a different runway at approximately 300 mph.

Mike “Spanky” Galloway flew his flipflopping performance w/smoke streaming out the tail of his Extra 330 next, then came down and was the announcer for most of the airshow. Jason Newburg flew in the “Pitts Viper” and Jodi Rueger in her Pitts S-1S at different times during the show. Both of those two planes are biplanes. Tom Larkin flew his “Mini Jet,” during the show, with high-speed “photo passes” close to the crowd.

While it was unable to actually land or takeoff from the Dalhart airport, an F/A-18C flown by Captain Rich Weidner flew over the airshow after the minijet. The jet is part of the U.S. Marines VMFA- 232 “Red Devils” Attack Squadron based out of Miramar, California. It did do a couple of “touch-and-go” landings to give spectators an upclose view of the fighter.

Several World War II era planes were part of the show next. Four planes flew together, mainly trainers from that era, flying both in formation and separating at times. The B-25 Devil Dog, flown by Beth Jenkins, and the C-45 Spirit of West Texas flew together next, and the B-25 simulated the bombing of Tokyo by a squadron of B-25 planes in April of 1942 following Pearl Harbor, with help from “Blastards Pyro.”

Kyle Franklin was also there and performed his act, Franklin Flying Circus, at one point pretending to be a nonpilot stealing a plane. There was also a golf ball drop by a helicopter as part of a charity fundraiser, and the Patriot Parachute Team did a tandem drop with Dalhart firefighter Jolene Hafer in honor of Curtis Brown and Brendan Torres.

The final act, which was also the main act and highlight of the show, was the A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team with pilot Lindsay “MAD” Johnson. She flew in formation with a P-51 Mustang flown by Tommy Williams as a USAF Heritage Flight, honoring all veterans. The A-10 then gave a simulated demonstration of its capabilities, including strafing machine gun fire and a 500-lb. bomb that throws up a massive wall of flames. As with the B-25 earlier, the pyrotechnics were provided by “Blastards Pyro.”

The airshow was attended by thousands. The spectators included not just citizens of Dalhart, but from surrounding towns, other parts of Texas, and even other countries. It has become the second largest event for Dalhart every other year, after the XIT Rodeo & Reunion.

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