Record crowd attends 2017 Wings over Georgia
By David Howe
Under crystal blue Georgia skies, an estimated 83,000 aviation fans flocked to Richard B. Russell airport in Rome on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21 and 22, for the 2017 Wings Over North Georgia Air Show.
Show headliners included historic warbirds, U.S. SOCCOM para-commando teams, multiple aerobatic demonstrations and the renowned U.S. Navy Blue Angels in their 57th appearance of 2017.
From small single seat light sport aircraft to the awesome Air Force C-17 Globemaster, there was something for everyone to see.
Among some of the more unusual exhibitions were two jet-powered four-wheeled vehicles belching smoke and flame and accelerating to speeds of over 300 mph in seconds from a standing start.
A jet-powered glider performed a majestic aerial ballet painting the sky with thin smoke trails from its wingtips.
The team from the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation flew Vietnam-era Huey and Cobra helicopters in mock military assault. Army Ranger Skydivers parachuted from 10,000 feet over the field.
Among several individual aerobatic demonstrations were the modified Pitts S2S bi-plane flown by Buck Roetman and the 380 hp one-of-a-kind MSX-RH flown by seven-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Rob Holland.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Demonstration Team rounded out the program with its unique brand of precision military formation flying in their 57th performance of 2017. Tightly choreographed with an announcer describing each maneuver for the crowd, six roaring McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets commanded the sky with formation loops, rolls and high-speed fly-bys in quick succession.
Private aircraft parking lots filled up quickly as private pilots from around the Southeast flew to Rome for the annual tribute to aviation, creating galleries of small aircraft through which airshow visitors could stroll.
Aircraft rides were available for the not faint of heart (and at not so nominal cost) in a UH1-H “Huey” helicopter, a fully restored P-51 Mustang and other vintage aircraft.