A few hairdos may have been dampened by drizzly weather at the third annual Aviation Aerospace Expo '94, but the rain didn't hamper the enthusiasm among aviation devotees.
Despite the intermittent rain, a record number of aircraft buffs thronged to the Salt Lake International Airport's Executive Terminal Saturday to enjoy the copious displays, aircraft fly-bys, tactical flight and aerobatic demonstrations, musical entertainment, food and souvenir booths and helicopter rides.Participants also watched an unusual drag race between the jet dragster Gravity Storm (on the ground) and the T-33, (in the air), a World War ll training jet.
"The plane won by just a length," said Christian LaBarbera, promotion coordinator. "The crowd was ecstatic at the loud rumble and the flames shooting everywhere."
He said the jet dragster was particularly impressive because "it approached 300 mph from a complete standstill in just under six seconds."
Nearly 100 aircraft were on display from military, commercial, experimental and private sources.
Some of the aircraft on exhibition: A-6 Intruder, F-18 Hornet, F-15 Eagle, AV-8B Harrier jet, the massive UPS Boeing 757 commercial transport plane, F-14 Tomcats, Apache helicopter, midget Mustang and a Swedish-made Saab Drakken jet (the fastest aircraft a private person can buy). These were just a few.
For the adventurous souls, there was the "space ball ride" (a human multi-axis gyro), developed by NASA for training astronauts and used by the Air Force for training "top guns."
"The purpose of the Air and Space Expo is to provide a forum for the air and space industries, give children hands-on experience and educate the public in these two great fields," said Expo chairman Dave Turner. "I guess airplanes and space hold a great fascination for people of all ages."
Another highlight was the F-16 tactical flight demonstration. The Fighting Falcon Aerial Demonstration Team from Hill Air Force Base executed precision flight maneuvers for a thrilled audience.
"The F-16s performed barrel-rolls and shot straight up into the air," LaBarbera said. "The roar of the engines was awesome."
He believes the rain may have kept a few away from the Expo, "but at least we didn't have the sun beating down on us. Next year will be even bigger and better."
Former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn contributed to the Expo with a "space presentation" of his experiences in outer space.
"I've never been to an airshow I didn't like," Garn said smiling. "I'm really pleased by the way this has developed." Garn is in the process of restoring a 1948 Navion vintage airplane.
"It's a baby brother to the P-51," he said. "I'm doing a total restoration. It wasn't ready for this show, but absolutely, guaranteed, I will have it ready for display next year."
The F-117A stealth fighter enchanted the crowds with its ominous, chiseled contour as it pointed outward from the hangar, flanked by blue beret-wearing sentries holding M-16 machine guns.
"Its function is to fly out at night, and with a laser-directed smart missile (guided missile), attack the enemy," said Jim Keane, expo vice president. "Part of the aircraft absorbs radar signals and it also reflects radar at obtuse angles so the enemy can't pick it up on their radar screens."
The stealth was first unveiled to the public in April 1989 at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas. The military, however, had been flying the aircraft since 1982. It was used extensively in Desert Storm and was called "Shabba" by the Iraqis, meaning "ghost" in Arabic.