Poage air show will feature highfliers Aerobatics, racing planes to be at Westminster event

June 21, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The Jack B. Poage Airshow in Westminster this weekend will feature a plane modified for aerobatics 32 years ago by the veteran pilot who was killed when he crashed a plane during an air show in 1990.

Bel Air pilot Ned Surratt will fly the MidWing Special that he and Poage co-owned. June Poage, Jack's widow and president of Westair Inc., which operates Carroll County Regional Airport, is producing the show.

"We flew together in many shows," Surratt said of Poage. A manager of chemical engineering at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Surratt started flying in 1963 and got into aerobatics a year later.

Surratt said the plane is designed for maneuvers close to the ground and in front of the audience at fairly slow speed, "which is what spectators like to see, because if it's too fast, you can't follow it."

The show also will feature a replica GeeBee R2, a short, stubby craft that looks like the Volkswagen Beetle of airplanes. A racing plane of the 1930s, the GeeBee got a reputation as a killer after several fatal crashes. Montana wheat farmer Delmar Benjamin built the replica to fly in air shows.

"He doesn't know how great he is," June Poage said. "He's the only living person to fly it."

Vince Campanella of Campanella & Associates, who is handling public relations for the show, said many pilots with national reputations are flying in the Westminster show in respect for June and Jack Poage.

"I think you won't find another local show of this caliber," he said.

Poage lost money on the air show last year, her first as producer. She said competing events reduced the crowd and the show was rained out one day last year. She said she was unprepared for the number of people who parked in the county air business center and walked across fields to the show, bypassing the admissions gate. This year, she has installed fences to get people to pay for admission.

Attendance at the 1990 air show, sponsored by Westminster Rotary Club, was about 18,000. Attendance last year was about 7,000.

If this year's show makes a profit, Poage said she plans to make donations to local organizations whose members are helping.

The air show "can become a tremendous community event, because it draws from the Northern Virginia and Washington area," Campanella said.

The show will be at Carroll County Regional Airport, Route 97 north, tomorrow and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aerobatic shows are daily at 12: 30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12.

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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