Jets Zoom into Town for Pittsburgh Air Show

Sep 9, 2011

When else could you expect to see (and hear) dozens of jets roaring through the air at 400 miles per hour?

Yes, it's the 10th annual "Wings Over Pittsburgh" air show, where teams of unreasonably fast planes will invade the skies over Moon Township's 911th Airlift Wing this Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

It may rain this weekend, but unless lightning strikes, pilots from groups like the Red Bull Air Force, the Viper West F-16 Jet Team, and Team Oracle are sure to pull off plenty of aerobatic manuevers.

Featured this year is a new aerobatic group from Lancaster, Pennsylvania: the Heavy Metal Jet Team, flying a formation of six L-39 jets.

Heavy Metal pilot Jerry "Jive" Kerby said most of his team's show features a four-ship diamond with two solo planes.

"It's really a Thunderbird, Blue Angel-looking show," said Kerby. "The diamond will come by, then when the diamond goes away, one of the solo planes will come by and fill in the gaps. So there's somebody in front of the crowd all the time. At the end we do get together for five- and/or six-ship together moves."

Kerby said the Heavy Metal Jet Team started last August, while he was teaching co-founder Jared Isaacman how to fly an L-39 in a pair of the jets they'd recently bought.

"We just acquired these airplanes, and it was so much fun to fly them we go, 'We're going to spend the money on fuel anyway. Why don't we do it for a good cause, the Make-A-Wish foundation? So, let's build an air show team,'" said Kerby. "And so I said, 'Do you want to just do two?' And he said, 'Let's do five.'"

Kerby said his group raises money and awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at its shows. The Pittsburgh air show is the team's twentieth performance.

Mark Winklosky, public affairs officer for the 911th Airlift Wing, said while the weather is expected to be "patchy" this weekend, he expects a good turnout. He said last year was a record year for Wings Over Pittsburgh.

"Probably 325,000 to 350,000 [attendees] last year," said Winklosky. "This year, I think it's going to depend a lot on the weather, and there's a lot of other events going on in the area, parades, memorial dedications and such. So, I think we're going to have less people, but I think we'll still have a good attendance, as long as the weather holds out."

Winklosky said even if storms do roll through the area, people can look at airplane exhibits and vendors between shows.

The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with flights scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Traffic and parking information can be found at the Wings Over Pittsburgh website.