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Expect Chilliwack Flight Fest to be awe-inspiring

Father-and-son team, Bud and Ross Granley, is one of many aerobatic acts set to go at this weekend’s Chilliwack Flight Fest at the airport. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
Father-and-son team, Bud and Ross Granley, is one of many aerobatic acts set to go at this weekend’s Chilliwack Flight Fest at the airport.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

Look up — way up!

Experience the thrills and chills of the 23rd annual Chilliwack Airshow at the Chilliwack Airport August 16-17.

Back for the 2014 Flight Fest Society event is Kent Pietsch, Bud and Ross Granley, and of course Super Dave Mathieson and his Sheyden MX2 and so many more.

It's the first time ever that Super Dave will be part of the Twilight Show, doing an awe-inspiring night routine.

"It's aerobatics at night with pyrotechnics exploding off the wing," he said.

Super Dave has been training with Ken Fowler of Team Rocket for the night show, and found it quite different than doing daytime manoeuvres.

"You don't have much depth perception, so you have to be very careful and keep vigilant," Mathieson tells The Progress.

Super Dave will be live on the jumbo screen for the Twilight show routine.

"It will show me inside the cockpit!"

He'll have a sequence of 10 buttons to press, while strapped in and hanging upside down to ignite the roman candles.

"The day show is different. The night routine is more slow and gentle. Sort of a ballet in the sky."

The only trick is remembering not to look at the blinding lights while he's doing it. Should be a blast, he figures.

Organizers are particularly proud to have a P51 Mustang in town for the show, said Ray Firkus of the Chilliwack Flight Fest Society.

The P51 warbird is here along with a Grumman FM-2 Wildcat, courtesy of the Tillamook Air Museum.

"It's the first time we've ever had a P51 in Chilliwack," Firkus said.

Super Dave Mathieson helped make it happen.

"Getting a ride in this Mustang is on everyone's bucket list," said Mathieson. "The sound of the engine is so powerful and it looks so majestic."

It's one of the most famous military planes used by the U.S. Army Air Force during the Second World War, and it's aircraft like this "that helped win the war," he said.

The P51 is accented with bright red tails. It was first commissioned in 1945 by the RAAF, and has been proudly restored to commemorate 332nd Fighter Group, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, a unit of African-American military aviators.

The local event had two "warbirds" last year including a Spitfire, but never a "Mustang," which is a much sought after plane and worth several million dollars. Museums and organizations that own rare planes like this often go on tour and will fundraise just to cover the expensive maintenance costs.

There are two ways for aviation fans to go for a ride in the rare plane: win the Friday night photo contest; or pay the $1800 cost recovery fee to go for a glorious plane ride.

The whole airshow this year is "stacked," Mathieson said.

It all starts at the airport on Saturday night with a Twilight Show and Hangar Dance, and then the free event is on Sunday starting with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Preshow and beer garden open at 11 a.m. The airshow starts at 1 p.m.

A photo contest is set to take place before the airshow starts. The Mustang will be set up at the airport Friday night, and there are 50 spots for photographers who pay $100 each to enter their photo for a chance to win a ride in the P51. To register for the photo contest, flightfestchris@gmail.com, with the rules at www.airshow.ca/photoshoot

To sponsor a ride in the Mustang P51, email davemathiesonMX2@gmail.com or call 604-226-1219.

The BBQ & Hangar Dance on Saturday is sponsored and hosted by Garrison Bistro with barbecue steak dinner, Twilight Show and live entertainment by the Afterburners for $40 per person (adults 19+). Tickets are at the Airport Coffee Shop or Firkus Air. The event grounds are open to the public on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For all the details www.chilliwackairshow.ca.

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