Chennault Airshow a smashing success (with video and photos)

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

With 14 planes in the air and more than 12,000 people on the ground, the 2013 Chennault International Airshow wrapped up Sunday

after its 15-year hiatus.

Rain started to fall about 2:45 p.m. Sunday during the second to last performance — causing the cancellation of the Black Diamond Jet Team’s act.

Megan McLellan, the airshow director, said despite the last minute showers, it was a successful airshow.

“It’s unfortunate because they were our headliner, and they were the anchor to our great lineup,” said McLellan. However,

the 4-aircraft team did get to perform Friday and Saturday.

Among the other performers were Kevin Coleman Aerosports, Red Tail Squadron and Pemberton Aerosports.

“We are so happy that our planning and

our hard work came to fruition in front of our community — Southwest

Louisiana,” McLellan

said. “We’re hoping after the success of this year, everyone is

going to support us, so we can continue to grow and move on

to future shows.”

McLellan said she’s interested to see how far people traveled.

Twelve-year-old Dylan Edwards, came from Reeves, La., to see the airshow in Lake Charles with his family. He said his favorite

acts were the Flash Fire Jet Truck and “FIFI” — a B-29 Superfortress, which first flied in 1942.

“One by one the engines started,” he said. “I like being here with my family and enjoying the planes.”

Loops and rolls are just a couple of

the formations done by Mark Henley, with the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team.

He is one of the

four pilots who fly the World War II North American Advanced

Trainers.Henley, of Alabama, said this is what he does for a living and

travels across the country to various airshows.

“Here in Lake Charles, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Henley said. “This area has never seen us fly before.”

Mitzi Vincent, of Lake Charles, attended Sunday with her children and grandchildren.

“We’ve enjoyed watching all of the planes and all of the extra activities they have for the kids,” Vincent said. “The event

was very family-friendly.”

A World War II era B-25 Mitchell Bomber is just one of the many planes on static display over the weekend. The airplane, an

attraction of the Disabled American Veterans, helps share the message of service in support of the nation’s veterans.

The historic airplane is known for the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, Japan, more than 70 years ago.

The DAV flight team arrived in Lake Charles Thursday as part of their nationwide tour to raise awareness.

“If we can help one veteran know where

to turn for help who otherwise didn’t know where to turn than we’ve done

our job here,”

said Lynn May, event coordinator with the DAV Flight Team. “Our

mission is fulfilling the promises of the men and women who

served.”

Carl Falcione, narrator of the Black Diamonds Jet Team, said while the aircrafts are flying he gets to narrate and say what

the team is doing.

“I get the crowd revved up and get everyone excited and have some fun,” he said. “There are some great civilian legends that

are flying in these airshows, and you’re never going to stray away from the mystery and excitement of flight.”