Wing walk, other thrills in sky today

September 17, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

Once Darrell Montgomery is airborne today at the Chesapeake Air Show, his partner, Jimmy Dorsey, will walk unrestrained to the tip of the wing.

Mr. Dorsey will sit down on the outer edge, clutching it for dear life, as Mr. Montgomery takes their white, 450-horsepower Stearman biplane through a complete aerobatic routine, including barrel rolls, snap rolls and hammerhead stalls at speeds of up to 180 mph.

"It entertains the kids, but scares the hell out of the adults," said Mr. Montgomery, who will join a variety of other fliers before crowds expected to total 20,000 at Martin State Airport in Middle River today and tomorrow. Mr. Montgomery was spray-cleaning the windshield of his plane yesterday in preparation for the fifth annual event, but overcast skies prevented most of the aerobats from showing off at a scheduled preview.

The weather didn't bother Otto the talking helicopter, which can fly in almost any conditions. Otto's pilot, Bob Hosking, was happy to demonstrate his act in a three-seater decked out with rubber face.

In the air show, sponsored by the Essex/Middle River Chamber of Commerce, Otto blows bubbles (really a giant balloon), swings a yo-yo and nods its head in response to questions from the pilot's wife, Annette Hosking, 61, who narrates the skit from the ground. "We have some little kids who think he's a real person," said Ms. Hosking, who describes herself and her

spouse of 40 years as the "grandma and grandpa of the air show circuit."

Another couple who will be performing are Montaine Mallet, 46, and Daniel Heligoin, 60, a French team linked by marriage and by the French Connection Airshow, their contribution to the event. They fly his-and-hers planes low to the ground, adding poetry and music to formation aerobatics, blending synchronized loops and rolls with 360 degree turns.

"It's a whole ballet," said Ms. Mallet, who, like most of the other performers, travels around the country on the air show circuit for about half the year.

While other performers are coming come from as far as Toronto, Ohio, Florida and Utah, Bel Air resident John Strickland, 64, will provide a local touch. A hobbyist who performed in the other air shows at Martin State Airport, Mr. Strickland will do a 20-minute show that combines strafing passes and high-speed dives that bring him close to the pavement in a T-28C aircraft. He keeps a sense of humor about himself -- in the persona of Air Bear, who rides in the passenger seat behind him. The stuffed animal, wearing a green aviation outfit, was a present that his wife and daughter-in-law gave him to distract him from flying with any "pretty girls," he said.

The Chesapeake Air Show will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at Martin State Airport in Middle River. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 7-12. Attendees will be directed to parking lots, on and around the airport, then shuttled to the air show. There is no designated rain date, officials said. For information, call (410) 686-2233.

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