(Photo courtesy of Erickson Airshow Collection in Madras)
Three vintage airplanes will fly over Sisters Rodeo at the Saturday afternoon performance on June 11. Erickson Airshow Collection in Madras is sending the airplanes, which will zoom overhead at the end of the National Anthem.
At the 75th anniversary rodeo, two vintage planes swooped over as Peggy Tehan finished the last strains of the anthem in near perfection, streaking across the arena as she struck the last note on “brave.”
“We briefly lost radio communication,” explained John Baldwin, member of the rodeo association and a pilot himself. “The planes were over Three Creeks Lake when I re-established contact, recovering airspace in the nick of time. It was pretty exciting.”
The fighter jets are a P-51 Mustang, painted in Tuskeegee Airmen (Red Tails) colors, an F4U Corsair Navy and Marine jet, and a P-47 Thunderbolt.
The P-51 flew in World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts, “the last bomber to serve at the end of WWII,” according to Kevin Adams.
“I believe these are rare airplanes to still fly,” Baldwin said, “probably only one in a hundred of the P-51 and Corsair. There are only seven airworthy P-47s. To see these fly is a significant opportunity.”
Two of the vintage planes are sponsored for the second year by Laurie and Kevin Adams, The Mountain Group. Baldwin is sponsoring the P-47 in memory of two pilots who flew in World War II. He flew with both of them in their flight careers.
Captain George Cooper, USAAF, a P-47 combat veteran pilot, was credited for four air-to-air victories against the Luftwaffe in Europe. He spent most of thirty years as a NASA test pilot and then as NASA Director of Flight Research.
Lt. Commander Ralph Foltz, US Navy, flew his Corsair or Hellcat in the Pacific, and was credited with five air-to-air victories. He was one of the legendary Ace pilots of WWII.
The vintage planes will fly in formation over the rodeo grounds, banking left, right and overhead as they swarm the skies with a resounding boom.
Sisters Rodeo will begin June 8 with Xtreme Bulls followed by four rodeo performances June 10-12. For tickets and information, call the ticket hotline at 541-549-0121 or 1-800-827-7522, or visit the ticket office at 220 W. Cascade Ave. in Sisters.