• June




Returning after five years on hiatus, Air Power Over Hampton Roads returned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Thirteen aerial performers from across the country flew their aircraft into the storied air force base to enthrall and entertain aviation-loving people of all ages. The event spanned from May 5-7 and included a special Friday show for local students and military families.

Also returning to the event was the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV). Not a group to show up empty handed, the DOAV brought their white event trailer to the air show to educate visitors about aviation in Virginia, the varied programs of the department, as well as to inform residents about the different missions of the agency.

Alongside the event trailer was the Cessna 182 that the DOAV flew in from Richmond International Airport. Nearly indistinguishable from its little brother – the ubiquitous Cessna 172 – the 182 is slightly larger overall, has a higher horsepower engine, and a swept-back vertical stabilizer. Air show attendees, young and old, were able to sit in the Commonwealth’s 49-year-old aircraft. There, they were able to grip the controls and ask questions related to the general aviation airplane.

“It was such an incredible experience to have the Air Power Over Hampton Roads Air Show back at Langley Air Force Base after five years,” Public Relations and Education Coordinator David Halstead said. “The event gave the public the opportunity to see vintage aircraft displays as well as dynamic aerobatic performances. I especially enjoyed the STEM day, which allowed local students to visit various educational exhibits to learn more about aviation and different careers in the field.”

The headliners of Air Power Over Hampton Roads need no introduction. The illustrious Air Force Thunderbirds screamed past crowds in their F-16 Vipers. Performing aerobatics in formation, upside down, and even with their gear down, the Thunderbirds stunned visitors with the precision and accuracy of a javelin throwing Olympian. Spectators reveled at an old Thunderbird trick – while distracted with bewildering formation flying, a solo pilot will roar from behind the unassuming crowd. After ducking in alarm from the deafening roar, people would come back to their feet with a large grin.

Franklin’s Flying Circus puts on a wholly different type of aviation spectacle. The setup goes like this: While Liz Franklin is getting ready to perform in her Piper Super Cub, she gets out to check the tail wheel. Kyle Franklin – dressed as a bystander in a white tank top, torn jeans, and black converse sneakers – jumps into the plane and takes off. He proceeds to fly sloppily low and haphazardly. To the uninitiated, the old “flying hobo” routine is nerve wracking until you catch on. It is said that these flying comedy acts are the most difficult to perform. Kyle Franklin is fond of saying that it takes, “a lot of work to fly that badly.”

If you missed this air show you will have time to plan for the next one. Air Power Over Hampton Roads is a biennial event that will return to Langley Air Force Base in 2025.

Story credit: Virginia Dept of Aviation; https://doav.virginia.gov/calendar-and-news/news/2023-may/air-power-over-hampton-roads-returns-to-langley-afb/

© Copyright Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society