Large crowd comes out for SHAF’s ‘Best Little Airshow in the World’

Published 7:41 pm Saturday, October 13, 2018

MOUND, La. — Terry residents Truman McManus and Tommy Willis were standing on the tarmac at the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport Saturday morning taking in the full measure of the World War II-era Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber sitting in front of them with its wings folded.

“I would love to see this one take off,” McManus said as he examined the radio operator’s position under the cockpit.

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Saturday marked the third time the two men had been to the Southern Heritage Air Foundation’s “Best Little Airshow in the World.”

“We always find something unusual,” Willis said. “I miss the big bomber (a B-24 Liberator) they had last time. But it looks like they have more planes this time.”

McManus, who flies remote control planes, said he likes to look at the vintage airplanes at the show, pointing out the collection of P-51 Mustang fighters at the far end of the airport.

“If it wasn’t for them, we’d be speaking German,” he said. “They won the war.”

Large crowd

McManus and Willis were among the early arrivals to the air show, which wasn’t scheduled to begin until 11 a.m.

“I’m surprised at all the early arrivals,” said Patty Meekus, Foundation president. “I’ve never seen this many this early and they keep coming in. Usually they don’t start coming in until just before noon, when the show starts. I’m excited to see this. The weather is great. We had a great (twilight) show last night and the concert was wonderful. Everything is just perfect.”

Some of the early arrivals staked out their places along the airport runway while others walked around looking at the variety of aircraft that featured four P-51s, including a Mustang named “Glamorous Glenn III,” a tribute to legendary airman Gen. Chuck Yeager, who named his World War II Mustang fighter and the X-1 he flew to break the sound barrier Glamorous Glennis after his wife.

Also parked on the airport apron and along the runway were various AT-6 Texans adorned in different colors and markings, a Soviet Yak and a World War II F4U Corsair.

There was also a kids zone, where children played on inflatable activities.

Some first-timers

Madison Perry of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an aeronautics student at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana, had a special relationship with one of the Texans; its owner, a friend of the family, let her fly it from Baton Rouge to Mound.

Madison’s parents, Deanna and J.D. Perry of Baton Rouge, said this was their first visit to the airshow.

“Our daughter wanted to come and see the planes, and we decided to all come down together,” J.D. Perry said.

Two other first-timers were Bennie Washington and his grandson Jayvon Johnson.

“We’ve always heard the planes flying over the house, and I always said I was going to check it out, but I never did,” Washington said. “Now I’m retired and can do whatever I want, so here we are. I thought I’d teach my grandson about planes.”

And his grandson’s favorite plane? He pointed to the Avenger. “That big one,” he said.

Just after noon, Truman McManus got his wish. The Avenger, with its Wright radial engine letting out a grumbling roar, taxied down the runway and lifted off, making several passes over the field.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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