Pilots defy tough conditions to wow crowds at Truckee Tahoe Air Show | SierraSun.com

Pilots defy tough conditions to wow crowds at Truckee Tahoe Air Show

Two-time Red Bull Air Race Champion Kirby Chambliss wows the crowd during an afternoon performance at the Truckee Tahoe Air Show on Saturday, July 14.
Justin Scacco / jscacco@sierrasun.com

Warm temperatures greeted pilots at this year’s annual Truckee Tahoe Air Show last Saturday, making flying at the high altitude show above Truckee Tahoe Airport even more difficult.

Though warm conditions and altitude increase the danger of performing, the world-class pilots at the show seemed unaffected by the circumstances, simulating dogfights, flipping, cartwheeling and diving toward the deck below only to pull up at the last minute.

“My aircraft is underpowered and I sometimes feel like I’m flying a glider,” said Anna Serbinenko ahead of this year’s show. “So it’s a lot of energy management and you need to plan things ahead.”

Serbinenko, known as the Sky Dancer, set her performance to classical music as the Ukrainian born aerobatic pilot dazzled above with a precise and elegant style in the air.

Highlighting this year’s event was the return of two-time Red Bull Air Race World Champion Kirby Chambliss, who again wowed crowds below, seemingly defying physics with flips, spins, and dives in each of his two performances during the day.

Between Chambliss’ performances, the sky came to life with the sound of a P-51 Mustang Man O’ War and its 1,720 horsepower as it engaged with WWII counterpart a Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The two planes took turns giving chase to one another in a rare display of two aircraft steeped in history.

Of the roughly 11,000 built, according to race organizers, only three Zeros are still flight worthy today. The two crafts also didn’t see a lot of action against one another during the war in the Pacific as the P-51 came over in the later years of the Pacific campaign after serving primarily in Europe.

The air show also included performances by the Red Bull Wingsuit Team, including Truckee’s own and co-owner of Skydive Truckee Tahoe Mike Swanson, as well as static aircraft displays featuring the massive Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

For youngsters interested in science, technology, engineering, art, and math, the STEAM Expo included multiple booths for play and learning. The day’s events also included speeches from local first responders as part of this year’s theme, A Salute to First Responders.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.

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