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Sound of Speed Airshow takes off

There were planes as far as the eye could see, and even farther than that: The Sound of Speed Airshow at Rosecrans Memorial Airport kicked off the weekend with a day of aerial performances.

Professional pilot Bob Carlton thought it was the perfect day for flying.

“Just being up on a day like today, crystal clear blue sky, smoke all around me and making that 3,000-foot sculpture in the sky and then flying through it, it’s just amazing,” Carlton said.

Carlton flew his Super Salto Jet Powered Sail Plane, a gliding plane fitted with an engine.

“I’ve been flying that aircraft for 25 years and originally it was just a glider, and every place we went, we had to hire a tow plane, a two pilot to get me up into the air, and we came up with putting the jet engine on it and it’s quite an amazing aircraft,” Carlton said.

The performance was extra special as it doubled as a gender reveal: the plane blew pink smoke from its wings to surprise two parents with the gender of their baby.

“We did something a little special today and I believe it’s the first time at a North American airshow that that’s been done at the airshow,” Carlton said.

For others, seeing the planes fly brought back memories.

“We have a great interest and fascination with aircrafts, my husband used to fly and his dad was a mechanic for years and worked on a large carrier, TWA, and this brings back a lot of good memories for him,” attendee Gina Shatto said.

And there was something else Shatto and many others were excited to see.

“We really are awaiting the Blue Angels and we look really forward to see that,” Shatto said.

The Blue Angels hadn’t performed in St. Joseph since 2010 and were one of the main attractions at Saturday’s event. Six planes flew different formations cheered on by the crowd and aided by a clear sky that allowed good viewing conditions.

However, the cloudless sky and temperatures up to 92 degrees also meant the first aid trailer was busy treating people for signs of heat exhaustion. Mosaic Life Care treated 23 people for heat-related incidents on Saturday, “the majority from the airshow,” Joey Austin, media and community relations for Mosaic Life Care, said in a statement.

“We encourage everyone to stay safe, hydrated and follow appropriate safety precautions when dealing with the heat, especially if attending the airshow,” Austin said.

Attendees were able to fill up water bottles at free refill stations and organizers announced coolers, which were previously banned from the premise, will be allowed at Sunday’s air show.