Manila Air Show draws large crowd

Thursday, September 12, 2002

The 2002 Manila Air show drew a large crowd in spite of the high temperatures. The sixth annual air show is sponsored by the Manila Pilots' Association (MPA) and the city of Manila with area businesses contributing to make the event something special for the entire family. Sarah Hargrave, a Manila high school senior, sang the National Anthem while skydivers from the Central Arkansas Parachute Company kicked off the show by carrying the Arkansas Flag and the American Flag made a perfect landing. The Central Arkansas Parachute Company has been part of the Manila show every year since the beginning.

In addition to tandem diving, daredevil aerobatics, wingwalking, kiddie ground rides, airplane rides, food, entertainment by Crowley's Ridge Cloggers under the direction of Leona Miller, and aircraft of all kind were exhibited.

Members of the MPA are very pleased each year to open the Manila airport for the public to enjoy. There is no charge to the public for the show or parking.

Nelson Benson, president of the MPA, said the day was very successful with well over 2,000 in attendance.

Michael Kennedy and Lowell Sterchi of the Swift Magic Aerobatics Team based in Lebanon, Tenn., performed in their 1940's style Swift fighter plane. Designed in 1939, the Swift was the first civilian aircraft certified for manufacture at the end of World War II. However, an overly optimistic production rate and the Korean War ended the building of Swifts in 1951. Approximately 1,500 were built before final production.

Kennedy and Sterchi specialize in flying in close formations. The pilots get within three to five feet apart and do everything in formation.

In their first appearance at the Manila Air Show, Jimmy and Carol Franklin held the crowd spellbound as Franklin did stunts in his jet-powered 1940 Waco biplane while his wife wing walked. Franklin has received numerous awards and has been seen in movies and television shows such as "Terminal Velocity," "Rocketer," "Three Amigos" and "World's Most Amazing Videos."

Sip Stewart made his second appearance at the Manila Air Show flying his Pitts Special Aerobic plane. Luckily Stewart managed a safe landing in spite engine failure due to air induction problem during his first performance. The problem was quickly remedied and he was to make the second performance with a little extra for the crowd.

Clint Allen, 80 years old, flew the Citabria in both shows and Greg Bird flew the German Built Extra 300. Butler Smith and Todd Green provided an additional wingwalk routine.

Dr. Johnny Smith flew his High G Ultr-X ultra light aircraft in a breathtaking aerobic routine

"We had a tremendous amount of fly-ins attending the show including some war birds from Little Rock," Greg Smith performer chairman of the MPA said.

Mark Frankum, KAIT-TV Meteorologist and pilot, served as announcer for the day.

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