11/04/05 — Base set to spread its wings

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Base set to spread its wings

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 4, 2005 1:52 PM

Some young boys dream of being firemen, presidents, doctors, or MVP of their favorite team. A boyhood dream to take to the skies like the daredevil pilots of the 20s and 30s propelled Ed Hamill to learn the tricks of the barnstorming trade.

On Saturday, Hamill will pilot his "Dream Machine" in the skies over Goldsboro's Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for the annual Wings Over Wayne air show. The biplane, designed and first built by Curtis Pitts more than 50 years ago, will twist, turn and roll as onlookers with their hands on their brows and mouths agape get a taste of what these air shows are all about.

On a practice flight Thursday morning over Wilson County, Hamill guided his biplane in a roll -- making the underside of the plane the upside -- and then minutes later rolling over again to right the aircraft as he turned over the Buckhorn Dam. During the gradual turn, he injected oil into the exhaust system of the Dream Machine and left a trail of smoke over the crystal water and autumn's changing leaves. After the 30-minute practice session, Hamill guided his airplane back down runway five at the Goldsboro-Wayne Airport.

Ed Shipley of Philadelphia will take to the skies in his F-86 Sabre jet as part of the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight. The F-86 was the primary aircraft of the 4th Fighter Group during the Korean War.

In Saturday's finale, the Combined Arms Demo team, consisting of F-15E Strike Eagles, A-10 Thunderbolts and paratroopers will simulate an attack.

"I think it's extremely cool when we can demonstrate what it's like to have an aerial attack over our airfield," said Capt. Tana Stevenson of 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. "I'm psyched."

The 82nd Airborne All-American Freefall team from Fort Bragg, the largest parachute force in the free world, will "drop in."

Among the civilian aerial performances are the Geico Skytypers. The team uses five airplanes to "type" messages in the sky that can be seen for miles.

Stevenson said the base is expecting 30,000 to 50,000 people for Saturday's show.

Employees of local restaurants are cautiously optimistic for the weekend's crowds.

"We hope to have a big crowd, of course, but it's hard to say," said Justin Langston of McCall's Barbecue and Seafood. Langston said recent air shows have made the day hard to predict for business. "Traditionally, it varies, so it's hard to say."

"We're actually expecting a slower day," said Glen Brown of Chili's Grill and Bar. "People will be spending the day out there (on base), and they'll be spending their money out there. If we do have any big sales, it'll be at night."

Hotel operators are excited about opening their doors for air show travelers.

"We've got quite a few reservations due in," said Don Johnson of Days Inn of Goldsboro. "We're getting ready."