Thousands of people turned out in the heat of a scorching April sun to watch top-drawer military pilots perform aerial maneuvers on the Smoky Mountain Air Show at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base this weekend. It is the first Smoky Mountain Air Show since 2000. With an aerial lineup made up of some of the most famous and talented performers in the business, spectators at the Smoky Mountain Air Show were experiencing heart-pounding show.
Most impressive team at Smokey Mountain Air Show were the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squad, performing throughout the weekend. Taking to the air in blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornets, the Angels performed their trademark “diamond formation” maneuver, flying in a close four-point formation so tight the planes seemed to be attached by invisible ties. The legendary Blue Angels wowed the crowd with their litany of signature maneuvers, formations and tradition, but the Smoky Mountain air show featured performances of all kinds.
Members of the Navy Parachute Team, the "Leap Frogs", jumped out from 2,500 feet of a C-130 Hercules aircraft to open the program.
World-renowned air show performer and aerobatic instructor Greg Koontz (which has been in the air show business for more than 40 years and has performed in more than 350 air shows) pulled off a seemingly impossible feat as he landed his Xtreme Decathlon aerobatic trainer on top of a moving pickup.
There was the raw power of the window-rattling F-16 Fighting Falcon, "The Viper," as Maj. Craig Baker pulled the throttle back on the fighter plane capable of Mach 2 speeds. The F-16 is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface combat.
In addition to the air show, there were more than 20 static and vintage aircraft on display, vendors, exhibits and even music stages featuring military bands. Some of the planes in the air and on display were P-51's which is the same model used by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War Two. The Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing was teaching spectators about WWII aviation through living history. "Well you come out here and you get a lot of the history. You see so many of the airplanes that have flown over the years, plus you see precision flying and these guys put on a great show", said Retired Lt. Colonel Greg Hardy.