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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedNight air show lights up the sky
By Meghan Plummer
 
There will be more than just stars in the sky Saturday night at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010; for the first time in years, Oshkosh hosts a night air show, complete with pyrotechnics and a fireworks display, at 8:30 p.m. on the flightline.

And the performers involved all must address and overcome challenges non-existent in their typical daylight flying.

Night air show performers include the AeroShell Aerobatic Team (T-6s), Bob Carlton (jet sailplane), Bob Davis (Sukhoi), Gene Soucy (Showcat), and Matt Younkin (Twin Beech).

Flashes of light twinkling in flight…
Matt Younkin said his night air show is completely different than his day performance. "My day show is a ballet," Younkin said. "My night show is in your face."

Bob Carlton said he loves doing the night air show. Including having to perform higher at night per FAA regulations, there are many things to keep in mind when performing at night.

"A lot of times, there are no references," Carlton said, adding that you have to learn to perform maneuvers with fewer visual cues.

"You lose your horizon," night air show performer Younkin said. Without a visible horizon, Younkin said he picks out straight lines, like runway lights and cars, to follow. "Those things sort of build an imaginary horizon."

Night vision protection
Another important factor in flying a night air show is maintaining night vision. "I just avoid looking at the pyro, and I tell them to turn the runway lights up," Carlton said.

Younkin, who doesn't use pyrotechnics, said he has 12 strobe lights, which are situated out of his sight on the bottom of his airplane. Younkin's plane also has more than 30 spotlights, which he blocks with a black shower curtain draped behind his seat.

Carlton has pyrotechnics attached to his wingtips, far away from the fuel tank. "It needs to be designed well to avoid accidents," Carlton said, pointing out that there haven't been any accidents while off the ground, but some people have had pyrotechnics go off on the ground.

"Since 1903, airplanes and fire have been mortal enemies," Carlton said.

With a computer system controlling the pyrotechnics, Carlton said he doesn't even think about it while he's performing. "I just flip the switch and enjoy flying for six minutes," Carlton said.

Though it may make some people nervous, Carlton's wife, Laurie, loves the pyrotechnics. "It's one of the neatest things to light your aircraft on fire and go flying," she said.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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