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Flyin' High

‘Aviation Awareness Day’
to spotlight Madison’s airport

Plane rides, air show, food
and fun on tap at annual event


By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(October 2011) – Oct. 15 is set to be a day of flights, food and fun when Aviation Awareness Day celebrates the importance of Madison (Ind.) Municipal Airport to area communities. Designed to promote awareness of the airport, this year’s celebration showcases a variety of talented performers and unique acts certain to thrill those with a love of speed and daring.

Hollywood Slick and Cliff Robinson

Photo provided

Hollywood Slick poses with Madison
aerobatic pilot Cliff Robinson (right).
The two are scheduled to perform
Oct. 15 at the Madison Air Show.

Among the performers will be Cliff Robinson, a pilot with more than 8,000 hours of flight time. In addition to being locally known for offering sight-seeing tours in his bi-plane, he is also an award-winning aerobatic pilot who has performed in more than 200 public air shows across the country. At the show, Robinson will be performing in his 1941 Boeing Stearman plane, a World War II training plane that has been specially modified to handle the loops, rolls, and spins that amaze air show audiences.
Robinson cites the “adrenaline rush” as what draws him to the challenge of precision flying. His old-fashioned “barnstorming” style of flying is performed low and in front of the crowd which adds to the excitement. Show coordinator Deborah Crawford notes that while the pilots make the loops and tricks appear effortless, “None of this is easy.”
Gates open at 9 a.m. with the air show beginning at noon. The show will feature many skilled pilots including Emerson Stewart, who will perform a heart stopping “dead stick” routine where the engine is turned off in mid-air before completing a variety of maneuvers and landing safely.
Guests will also have their chance to cheer for their high-performance vehicle of choice as motorcycle rider Hollywood Slick challenges a bi-plane to what is sure to be an unforgettable race.

Bob Pitts

Photo provided

Aerobatic pilot Bob Pitts does stunts
in this colorful bi-wing airplane.

Plane rides will offer visitors the chance to catch a glimpse of their hometown from above, or guests can keep their feet on the ground and appreciate a variety of aviation inspired art including aerial photographs taken by Theresa Strohl. Concessions will be provided by the Milton Volunteer Fire Department, and pilots will be available to answer questions about their favorite planes or to share stories of their most memorable flights.
This is also an opportunity for those interested in learning to fly themselves to meet area instructors and find out more about how to get involved in a new activity. Crawford notes that the airshow is “a chance for the community to come out and see what we have.”
Assistant airport manager Ralph Rogers said he hopes that the air show will help make people aware of the airport and its importance to the Madison area. He notes that the airport is used by small business owners, police and government officials, and due to its proximity to the racetrack, race car drivers.
“It really means a lot to the town,” Rogers says.
Robinson agrees and characterizes the airport as “the gateway to our community.”
The air show will also offer a special tribute to beloved Hanover physician, Dr. H. Schirmer Riley, who was killed in a plane crash last year. On display will be special memorabilia from the doctor’s aviation days, including the gas tank of the plane used in his 1986 flight around the world with Jim Pirtle. Pirtle will be present to sign copies of the book, “Two Pilots One Engine,” written by the two about their adventure that took them from Madison, to Egypt, to India and home again.
This year the Madison Airport is getting involved in social networking as a way to share information and spark curiosity about aviation. Crawford hopes that those interested in the air show will be sure to check out the airport’s new Facebook page by searching Madison Municipal Airport. The page includes snippets on some of the acts that will be appearing at the show as a way of “encouraging the school students to ask questions” to find out more about the planes and the maneuvers being performed during the air show.
Before and after the air show, organizers and pilots will be using the Facebook page to connect with aviation enthusiasts. So for Madison area residents, the skies may be closer than they ever realized.

• For more information, visit: http://cliffrobinsonaerobatics.com. The Madison Municipal Airport is located at 3919 West IMS Lane, Madison.

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