SMYRNA – Smyrna resident Ray Goad is not your typical air show spectator.
Flight enthusiast Goad, 84, and his wife, Wilma, because of personal connections, seldom miss attending Smyrna Airport’s Great Tennessee Air Show, slated for Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 13, at the Smyrna Airport.
“Our granddaughter Rebecca’s husband, Air Force Capt. Andy Aduddell, flies and instructs pilots in F-16 fighter jets based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where the Flying Thunderbirds also train and are based,” Goad explained.
Aduddell performed two years ago at the Smyrna air show spectacular.
“Capt. Andy performed in his F-16 two years ago at our great air show when the Blue Angels were again here in Smyrna,” he noted. “It was a great personal thrill for Wilma and me, as we watched Andy, in his F-16, roll down Smyrna Airport’s long runway, and then soar straight up, out of sight from us folks on the ground. Plus, we’ve had dinner with Thunderbird pilots and wives when Wilma and I visit our granddaughter in Arizona.”
Goad said his love of flight goes back to his teenage years in rural Maury County.
“At age 17, I made my solo flight on July 13, 1945, at Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., where I was a flunky for the airport’s fixed-based-operator,” Goad said, soaring back in time. “I paid for my air instruction, by washing airplanes, spinning propellers to start engines and serving as assistant mechanic.
“My solo flight was in an Aeronca L-3, a surplus aircraft that had served as an artillery spotter plane in World War II,” Goad shared.
Aduddell is slated for a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan starting in June.
In addition to the pilots, it takes many teams of flight professionals to stage the Great Tennessee Air Show.
Meet the Leap Frogs, the official U.S. Navy Parachute Team that consists of 14 jumpers, leaping out of an aircraft at an altitude of 12,500 feet. During free fall, jumpers reach speeds of 120 mph and can accelerate up to 180 mph by pulling their arms to their sides and straightening their legs into what is called a “tract.”
“Jumpers typically open their parachutes at around 5,000 feet, by releasing a smaller pilot chute, which deploys their main blue-and-gold canopy,” described Smyrna Airport Executive Director John Black. “After deploying their chutes, the Leap Frogs fly their canopies together to build dramatic canopy-relative formations.”
There is also ground-and-air, high-octane thrills.
For this Great Tennessee Air Show act, driver and pilot Neal Darnell goes at record ground speeds.
How does this happen at an air show?
In 2011, Darnell formed a partnership with John Klan Air Shows and the Air National Guard, and began a new headliner act known as the “Max Adrenaline,” which includes Darnell’s Flash Fire Jet Truck and two high-performance aerobatic planes flown by Klan and Bill Kerns.
“This high-octane act always provides some very exciting surprises,” Black said.
Major military flight history in Smyrna started back in the early 1940s, when the late Edwin Smith and hundreds of other Rutherford County residents were contracted to clear the thousands of acres needed for construction of the Sewart Air Force Base.
“I had a little Ford tractor with a scoop, so they contracted with me to help level the land where the long runways were to be built,” Smith shared in an interview he granted to Middle Tennessee news media back in 1989.
The fabled U.S. Navy Blue Angels will make new aviation history by headlining this year’s Great Tennessee Air Show.
In addition to daring precision flying, the air show this year will feature more than 40 static displays of military aircraft for show attendees to walk up and investigate.
“Plus, we have the always popular Kid’s Zone for children to enjoy throughout the two-day spectacular,” Black said.
Great Tennessee Air Show Performers
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels
The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron formed in 1946. During their aerobatic demonstration, the Blue Angels fly six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, split into the Diamond Formation and solo flights.
Scott “Scooter” Yoak
This P-51 is a celebration of our nation’s armed forces. Every aspect of the paint represents those who have served, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Vought F4U “Corsair” is one the most famous and recognizable fighters from WWII, and was the first U.S. fighter to exceed 400 MPH in level flight. This Corsair is owned by Dave Folk of Kalamazoo, Mich. All of the warbirds have their own distinctive sounds, and the Corsair was known to the Japanese on the ground as “The Whistling Death,” because of the unique sound generated by the air flowing over the oil coolers in a dive
As driver of the World’s Fastest Jet Powered Truck, Neal Darnell’s Air National Guard Flash Fire Jet Truck has been nearly flawless with record setting performances in front of huge crowds. The new ANG Max Adrenaline Act has been a huge success.
The Official U.S. Navy Parachute Team. A typical Leap Frogs performance consists of 14 jumpers diving out of an aircraft and building dramatic formations with their parachutes.