The pilots are ready to put on a memorable show at the 2009 Wings Over Ashville Air Show.

This year’s performance will include five feature stunt flyers in a variety of rare and vintage planes at the county’s largest non-sporting event. Wings Over Ashville is free to the public and will begin at noon, Saturday, October 3. Parking will be $5 per vehicle and proceeds benefit the Civil Air Patrol.

“Everything has gone well getting ready for it,” said Jeff Caddell, who organizes the event each year. The event is an undertaking, as many as 5,000 people have attended the event in years past and setting it up has been rewarding, yet daunting.

The annual air show takes place on a field adjacent to Greg Koontz’s airstrip. Koontz teaches stunt flying and basic aeronautics out of his Sky County Lodge Bed and Breakfast, where pilots can spend a weekend working on their skills.

“For our air show and what we do out there, it fits in well in a rural setting,” Caddell said of the pilots who buzz the skies above St. Clair County. “With the talent we fit into that small airspace, it would have a retail worth about $25,000 in other markets. But because of Greg’s place at end of runway, well, he’s put together some of the top talent in the nation. It’s definitely one of a kind in the world.”

A show of this caliber is rare in a small rural community. The pilots featured at Wings Over Ashville usually perform at big city shows. Unlike traditional shows where you are sometimes far from the action and have to walk a long distance, Wings Over Ashville is a community show where the audience gets up close to the action.

This year’s show will be featuring WWII era planes, high performance aerobatic bi-planes and other assorted craft that will have to be seen to believe. This year, female stunt pilot “C.C.” Gerner from New York will be on hand to perform. A high performance bi-plane known as “Beast” will be flown by Bryan Jensen. “It is the newest sensation in the air show circuit and is loud and fast,” Caddell said.

Also performing is former Air Force Thunderbird Pilot John Bostic. He will be flying a WWII eraT-6 trainer. Greg Aldridge from Illinois will be flying his aerobatic “Chipmunk.” There will also be a candy drop for kids where they can run to pick up candy dropped from a RC Model Airplane.

Aside from the show, a bi-plane built in 1928 that will be on hand selling tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime thrill of taking to the skies in a plane that lets people experience the old days of flying a smooth flight. The “Standard D-25” is one of only 45 ever built.

The one on hand for Wings over Ashville is the oldest model still flying. It went through an eight-year restoration by owners Steve and Nancy Oliver. The couple is better known as the Pepsi skywriters. Their Standard D-25 is twice as big as most bi-planes. Rides will be available for a price of $40. Most air show rides are $100-$150. The plane can take up four riders at a time.

“That thing is going to be a huge interest to people who come, I think,” Cadell said. “It’s painted up like old fashioned days and it will literally be barnstorming across the country and in Georgia before it arrives here.”

“Dollar Bill” Lawson from 102.5 “The Bull” will again be the announcer for Wings over Ashville. “We are so excited to have him back, as he adds so much knowledge and experience in air show announcing and makes it fun for all,” Cadell said.

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets with them and there will be plenty of food and raffle prizes for attendees.

Caddell credited the many vendors who will be on hand for helping to provide the opportunity for spectators to see a one-of-a-kind aeronautic experience for free.

This will be the first year that the show doesn’t include a full day of radio control planes, which normally fly from dawn until the air show begins. Wings Over Ashville was conceived by Caddell’s father, “Bud,” who originally sought to find a place for model airplane enthusiasts to have an event to fly their radio controlled planes.

He built Caddell Landing and over the years the annual RC plane event drew hundreds of participants.

“We were trying to do two events in one again this year; but it looked like it was going to be too much,” Cadell said. “You don’t want to have one too big. What we found last year was that the radio control pilots didn’t have enough time to fly their models. So, this year we’ll have the air show only with some demonstration from radio controlled planes.” The radio control planes will start flying at 10 a.m.

The Ashville and Whitney Junction Fire Departments will be displaying equipment along with the Civil Air Patrol.

Directions:

From I-59: take Exit 166 on Hwy 231 and head south to downtown Ashville. Go around the courthouse still heading south. Turn left approximately 1/2 mile on Greensport Road. Go through the four-way stop and the show will be just ahead on the right. There will be signs.

From I-20: Take the Pell City 231 exit and head North on Hwy 231. After the four-way stop, go up a hill and just as you are going back down the hill take a right onto Greensport Road. (You have gone too far if you get to Roses and Lace bed and Breakfast.) Go through the four-way stop and show will be ahead on the right.

Coming from Gadsden: Travel 411 thru Rainbow City over the water and by the old Canoe Creek Marina. Take a left on Greensport Road and then a right on Hwy 33. It will be over four miles and will be a right turn onto Slasham Road. There will be signs. It will be ahead on the left.

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