Members of the US Air Force Thunderbirds land at Travis Air Force base before a 2008 air show. The Thunderbirds will be returning to Travis later this month for the 2011 Skies Over Solano Air Power Expo. (Mike Greener/Daily Republic file2008)

Members of the US Air Force Thunderbirds land at Travis Air Force base before a 2008 air show. The Thunderbirds will be returning to Travis later this month for the 2011 Skies Over Solano Air Power Expo. (Mike Greener/Daily Republic file2008)

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Travis Air Expo to display air power

By July 21, 2011

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — It’s little more than a week until the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team headlines two days of military aircraft fly-bys, civilian aerial acts, extensive static displays and even live entertainment at the Travis Air Expo.

The gates to 2011’s Skies Over Solano Air Power Expo will open at 8:30 a.m. both July 30 and July 31. Admission is free.

The Air Expo’s performances start at 10:30 a.m. and run through 3 p.m.

Travis offers the Air Expo as a demonstration of the Air Force’s capabilities and as an open house to show its appreciation to the surrounding community.

“We have put together a fantastic lineup for the Air Expo, both in the air and on the ground,” said Maj. Nicholas Torres, 15th Air Mobility Operations Squadron deputy Air Expo coordinator.

“So many people have been working hard for the past two months to make this a fun-filled event for the public. It’s not just planes, either. From train rides to climbing walls, to the Raiderettes and 49ers Gold Rush cheerleaders, we’ve packed the ramp with fun things for everyone in the family,” Torres said in an email statement.

This year’s prime attractions are the U.S. Air Force  Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue Parachute Team, whose performances will include a flag jump.

Both the surrounding area and Travis members are looking forward to the Thunderbirds.

“I’m so excited for the Air Expo,” said Airman 1st Class Jason Russell, an aerial porter with the 571st Global Mobility Squadron, in an email statement. “I have always wanted to see the Thunderbirds because of their deep tradition and excellence in all they do.”

Aerial military aircraft demonstrations fly-bys will include a KC-10 Extender air tanker, C-17 Globemaster III jet transport, C-5 Galaxy jet transport and a B-2 bomber.

Civilian aerial performances will include Patty Wagstaff in a 300S, Tim Decker in a Pitts S-2C, Greg Colyer in a T-33, Kent Pietsch in an Interstate Cadet, Evan Wolfe in a T-28C, Julie Clark in a T-34, Eddie Andreini in a Super Stearmen, Steve Stavrakakis in an IAR-823 and John Collver in an AT-6.

Static displays are expected to feature an E-3 Sentry, a MQ-1B drone, an HH-60G PaveHawk helicopter, an F-15 fighter, a T-38 Talon trainer, a U-2 Dragonlady, a T-6A, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, a UH-1 helicopter, a C-5 Galaxy, a C-17 Globemaster III, a KC-10 Extender, a B-52 Stratofortress, a B-1B bomber, a C-130 Hercules, a KC-125, an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a T-33, a HA-60A helicopter.

The Navy will be represented in the static displays by an F/A-18 fighter, an EA-6B, and an E-2C while the Coast Guard is bringing in an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Bill Braak will put in a Smoke N Thunder jet show by powering up his 10,000-horsepower jetcar, which is capable of reaching speeds of up to 400 mph, to challenge one of the Air Force’s jet aircraft to a race.

Live entertainment will be provided by the vocalists The Honeybee Trio of Vacaville, who sing classics from the 1930s and 1940s, and the Chicago Honey Bear Dancer,s who were once the cheerleaders for the Chicago Bears football team.

Five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber, who played for the Sacramento Kings from 1998 to 2005, will be on hand.

All access to the Air Expo will be through the Main Gate. Motorists will be directed to specific parking areas.

For more information about the Skies Over Solano Air Power Expo, go to http://www.travisairexpo.com.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected]

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

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