ROME, GEORGIA; September 30, 2015 – Fans attending this weekend’s 2015 Wings Over North Georgia Air Show at Rome’s Russell Regional airport can show their support for children in the Rome, GA area by participating in the event’s Toys for Tots Toy Drive.
Attendees are asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy for the drive. Each person bringing a toy to contribute will receive a discount coupon for 15% off their entire check during their next visit to any participating Outback Steakhouse in GA or TN.
“Toys collected will be provided to children in Chattooga, Floyd and Polk Counties that would otherwise have a bleak Christmas,” states Greater Rome Area Toys for Tots Coordinator Hal Gosnell. “97% of all donations to Toys for Tots goes towards providing toys for the program as no salaries or personnel costs are paid from donations. All of the Greater Rome chapter members are volunteers as we are truly about providing joy and happiness to the children in our community.”
Toys will be collected near the entrance to the air show this Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4 from 9am until the event closes. “We’re very thankful to have the support of the Northwest Georgia area air show fans that want to help the families in our community by participating in this program that helps so many,” shares Air Show Organizer John Cowman
The Wings Over North Georgia Airshow and Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic is an FAA, DOD, KCBS, GBC and International Council of Air Shows-recognized event that is rated North Georgia’s #1 family weekend event attracting more than 80,000 attendees. In addition to a full roster of world-class aerobatic and military performers and two days of professional and backyard barbeque competitions, the Charlie Daniels Band is headlining the Saturday evening concert series this year.
For additional information on the air show, BBQ competition, Charlie Daniels and other performers, please visit http://wingsovernorthgeorgia.com. For more information on the Toys for Tots program, please visit http://toysfortots.org.
The U.S. Navy Tactical Flight Demonstration Team will return for the annual air show October 3 and 4 over Rome’s Richard Russell Regional Airport. A pair of F/A-18 Hornets will arrive two days in advance to prepare for their flights before the crowds.
Known throughout the Navy’s fleet operations as a cost effective, low maintenance aircraft, the Hornet can perform air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions. The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet series can fly nearly 40% farther and deliver more payload ordnance than the F/A-18 C/D.
The F/A18C is the same aircraft flown by the Navy’s Blue Angels. However, the TAC Demo’s version is not stripped down and painted in high gloss blue and yellow. Instead, the traditional Navy gray color and the TAC Demo’s logo decorate the military’s high performance strike fighter.
F/A-18 instructor pilot LT. Wallace “Gump” Miller will be behind the stick as his jet takes-off for a nearly twenty minute afternoon performance. The team will fly their classic F/A-18C and the newer F/A-18F Super Hornet during the show, with LT. Miller flying the “Rhino” or F-series with LT. Ben “Bueller” Kovesci on Saturday, and fellow pilot LT. John “Toby” Keith flying the “Charlie” on Sunday.
A member of Naval Air Station Oceana’s Strike Fighter Squadron 106 – nicknamed the Gladiators – Gump is proud to represent his home base and enjoys his role as instructor. Oceana’s primary mission is to train and graduate new Navy and Marine F/A-18 replacement pilots and weapon systems officers for operations in the fleet.
Gump joined this aerospace reporter as we walked the flight line on Tuesday as he inspected his aircraft, and enjoyed a rare moment to pause during an otherwise busy day. The fighter pilot, dressed in his tan flight suit, was all smiles as I began to ask about how it feels to soar aboard and perform carrier landings with the Super Hornet.
“It’s a ton of fun to fly on a daily basis and it’s a huge honor to have the opportunity, too,” LT. Miller began as we stood in his aircraft’s shadow. “There’s at least 30 seconds of every flight where you get to sit back and think ‘I can’t believe I get to do this’. It’s pretty awesome!”
The all-weather strike fighter has become the Navy’s benchmark as a 21st century aircraft. A few extra design features include the ability to cruise at an altitude of over 51,000 feet and fly at nearly two times the speed of sound or Mach 1.7; and it has an operating range of nearly 1,300 nautical miles or with the addition of three external fuel tanks has a flight radius of 1,660 nautical miles.
“We take a lot of pride executing our mission from aircraft carriers at sea,” Gump continued. “The catapult accelerates us from 0 to 150 m.p.h. in less than two seconds. It’s the most exhilarating roller coaster ride you could ever hope to experience; and then the arrested landing is kinda the opposite 150 to 0 m.p.h. in less than two seconds or so. It’s somewhat like a controlled car crash. It’s something that takes a lot of focus you never get totally comfortable with.”
The Gladiators have participated during several air shows across the eastern half of the United States this season. One of their final show stops of 2015 will headline Rome’s Wings Over North Georgia. I asked Gump to take us through a few of the demonstration maneuvers he will perform on show day.
“If it’s a beautiful weather day we’ll start the show with a Dirty Roll on take-off. We then will execute a Half Cuban 8, recovering right in front of show center.” The Naval pilot added he will perform “a minimum radius turn right before the crowd to show our ability to sustain 7.5 G’s (nearly eight times the force of gravity) through 360-degrees of turn.”
Expect to see the Super Hornet perform “a high speed pass where I will get right up to, but just under, the speed of sound at about .95 Mach,” Gump states. Following several more dynamic maneuvers, the demonstration will include high altitude climbs combined with fast and slow (High Alpha Pass) speed characteristics of the aircraft, “Because in some flight missions it’s just as important to fly slow as it is to fly fast,” Lt. Miller adds.
The Georgia native carries a lot of pride and you can hear it in his tone as we discussed the ability of the Hornet. He pointed out, “I really enjoy doing the low transition after the first touch-and-go, but the whole show is a ton of fun.”
Gump, 31, was raised in metro Atlanta near Stone Mountain graduating from Parkview High in 2002. After stops at U.S. Naval Academy and earning a Masters degree at Georgia Tech, the military aviator then earned his wings of gold at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas.
LT. Miller recalled his earliest influences with flying began at home, “I remember from a young age my dad used to show the opening scene of Top Gun — that was about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Then I went to a few air shows around the state and was always very interested in aviation and space. In my senior year of high school when 9/11 happened that further increased my desire to have the opportunity to fly and serve the country.”
I turned the conversation to ask Gump about his air show flight day rituals, “I don’t have any particular habits, but I’m a big breakfast guy. I’m sure at Wings Over North Georgia I can find some grits and eggs,” he laughed. “Then I’ll go for a little run before going to the show site.” He earned his “Gump” call sign for his love of running in relation to the title character who crosses the United States on foot in the hit movie “Forest Gump”.
“An hour before I actually go fly, I’ll find some time to sit down and do some final preparations before flying,” Lt. Miller continued. “I’ll sit down with some imagery (of the air show region) and chair fly or rehearse. I’ll brief with my Weapons Systems Officer LT. Kovesci who’ll be in the back seat during the demonstration, and again we’ll rehearse all the comm(unications) and maneuvers before we go fly the show.”
Gump added that the Navy’s TAC Demo Team regularly provides interesting articles and rare images via social media, “If you look up U.S. Navy TAC Demo page on Facebook it’s a great place to follow along.”
As our discussion concluded, LT. Miller’s attention turned towards a nearby runway as a Hornet began a vertical climb straight up at over 300 m.p.h. The instructor pilot then nodded with a slight smile in approval as the jet’s roar swept over the tarmac, and the aircraft sped off toward the blue horizon.
ROME, GA; September 2, 2015 — Air Show Fans, are you ready for North Georgia’s #1 rated family weekend event? The 2015 Wings Over North Georgia airshow & Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic competition is a short 30-days away! This years aerial action headlines the the world’s most lethal jet fighter aircraft, the USAF F-22 Raptor, along with the USN F/A-18 Hornet & Super Hornets, USMC MV-22 Osprey and GEICO Skytypers Flight Demonstration Teams, but that’s not all; there’s many more world-class aerobatic & warbird performers scheduled both days with our special Saturday evening concert series guest — Country Music’s Hall of Fame artist “The Charlie Daniels Band“.
A single General Admission ticket gets our fans all this entertaimment including the Smoke-n-Thunder BBQ Classic “DOUBLE” competition featuring the worlds best pitmasters going head to head for over $25,000 in prize monies! The airshow schedule has the airshow gates opening at 10:00am. We kick the flying activities off at 11:30am on Saturday morning with the openining ceremonies. These ceremonies include the performer-team introductions along with the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales Hitch Team stepping high for the fans along the entire taxiway crowd line!
With only 30 days remaining, advance ticket sales remain strong, now projecting all Saturday premium seating options will completely sell out! Airshow fans can take advantage of any remaining advance premium seating tickets & ticket packages! There are plenty of daily Saturday & Sunday General Admission & Reserved Airport Parking tickets along with Saturday evening’s Charlie Daniels Band concert reserved seating. All remaining air show ticket options can be reviewed at the official www.WingsOverNorthGeorgia.com web site. Current air show news and event updates can also be found on Facebook & Twitter accounts.