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Red, white and whosh: Expect patriotic aerial thrills from Blue Angels at Independence Day weekend air show

Patriotic thrills and chills are promised on Independence Day
weekend,and all for a good cause in supporting the Boy Scouts and local
nonprofits 

The American flag will fly high, and big, this Independence Day
weekend, waving across the sky as it’s pulled along by the Wings of Blue
U.S. Air Force Skydiving Team to jump-start the 2015 Chippewa Valley
Air Show.

The two-day event next weekend at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport
pairs the booms of the fireworks traditional to the Fourth of July with
the roar of U.S. Navy Blue Angels jets during the air show that is
expected to attract about 30,000

spectators each day, said Matt Hill,
Scout executive/​CEO of the Chippewa Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of
America, which is organizing and hosting the show.
Proceeds from the July 4-5 show go to the various nonprofits such as
church groups and Little League teams who volunteer at the event. Net
proceeds support the Boy Scouts.

“We will use those funds for special projects,” Hill said.

Local Boy Scouts organized their first Chippewa Valley Air Show in
2008, and for their efforts they received the national Air Show of the
Year Award from the Blue Angels. They hosted the event again in 2010,
but were bitterly disappointed in 2013, when federal funding cuts
grounded the Blue Angels, forcing the cancellation of the scheduled air
show that year.

This year’s show is the first since 2010, and Hill doesn’t expect the
holiday weekend to hurt attendance; instead he has heard that some
people plan to split their weekend between holiday celebrations and the
air show.

“A lot of people are choosing to spend it with us,” he said.

The air show is held whenever the Boy Scouts can secure a team, Hill
said, because the Chippewa Valley is considered a smaller market for the
Blue Angels.

About 350 Boy Scouts are volunteering for the event, in addition to
100 to 200 participants from local organizations, Hill said. The local
Scouts organization serves more than 4,900 youth in 10 counties through
its programs, a participation rate that grew 3 percent since last year,
he said.

Show highlights

After Wings of Blue open the show each day, Neal Darnell will
entertain spectators with the world’s fastest jet-powered truck,
according to the Chippewa Valley Air Show website. The Shockwave and
Flash Fire jet trucks boast more than 12,000 horsepower and come close
to speeds of 400 mph.

“We’ve had something similar before,” Hill said, recalling a jet
engine-powered bus and outhouse. “It’s amazing what these folks come up
with.”

Eyes back to the sky, the CF18 Demonstration Team will fly in honor
of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and its airmen.

The mood will lighten as “Farmer Clem Cleaver” hops up on the
announcer’s stand to demand a flight lesson, introducing spectators to
the Alabama Boys comedy routine.

Aerobatic demos will follow with performances showcasing Beech 18 by
pilot Matt Younkin of Arizona; T-33 (named Ace Maker) by pilot
Gregory “Wire” Colyer of California; Mike Wiskus in Lucas Oil stunt
planes; and another stint from the Alabama Boys.

Wings of Blue will soar into the show again with a full
demonstration, followed by the F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo and P-51
Heritage Flight “exhibiting the professional qualities the Air Force
develops in the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft,”
the Chippewa Valley Air Show website said.

Another appearance by the jet-powered truck and Mike Wiskus for a jet
vs. truck race may leave spectators rooting for one or the other.

The show ends with what most attendees will have come to see, the
Blue Angels, a crew of 16 Navy officers who will pilot a squadron of
Boeing F/​A-18 Hornet tactical combat jets, which can reach speeds of
Mach 1.7-plus, and a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, or “Fat Albert,”
four-engine turboprop military transport plane.

All the pilots need at least 1,250 tactical jet flight hours,
according to the website, and the commanding officer must have at least
3,000 hours. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m.

Addressing concerns

Residents near the airport have been advised of traffic changes to expect during the holiday weekend.

Airport manager Charity Speich said all traffic lanes will be
diverted into the airport on Melby Street and Starr Avenue. At about 3
p.m., traffic lanes will flip to accommodate outbound traffic.

“We did hold a neighborhood meeting where we sent out fliers inviting
area residents to go over with them the closures and no parking,” she
said, noting that overall the response was that attendees were
appreciative.

Hill agreed the meeting went well and said the majority of affected
people are supportive of the air show’s contribution to the community.

“We as an organization really appreciate their cooperation and
patience, and especially on a holiday weekend,” he said. “We’re
cognizant of that and are making every accommodation we can to minimize
impact.”

A traffic  lane in and out of the airport will be kept open for emergency responders at all time.

Contact: 715-833-9206, elizabeth.dohms@ecpc.com, @EDohms_LT on Twitter

 

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