"Wings Over Amador" Airshow This Weekend
Monday, April 21 2008 @ 12:43 pm EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
By text and photos by DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Red Bull "Wings Over Amador" air show was held this weekend on Sunday afternoon, 20 April 2008, at the Figali Convention Center marina. Thousands of Panamanians and foreigners turned out to watch U.S. pilot Kirby Chambliss fly his aircraft Edge 540 high performance stunt aircraft. To warm up the crowd before the air show began there were performances by wake boarders and a guy who could surf the wake behind a speed boat (pretty cool.) Three guys also parachuted from a helicopter, and the airplanes flew low through inflatable pylons set on barges in the bay. (more)
"Wake Surfing" Just when you thought you'd seen it all - this guy is not surfing, he's "wake surfing" behind a speedboat. That's right, the boat is just driving along and he's riding his surfboard on the wake created by the boat. Exceptionally cool. The promoters are trying to get permission from the Panama Canal Authority to "wake surf" all the way through the Panama Canal. They would be breaking two world records in the process. Apparently the record for the longest distance covered with a surf board goes to a guy who surfed an 11 kilometer long standing wave in a river in Brazil. So, by being able to surf along behind a speedboat they would be able to claim that one. Also, he would be the first person to surf through a continent from one ocean to another. Go figure.
Red Bull Everything: Make no mistake about it - this whole event is one big advertisement for Red Bull. OK, good for them. They spend millions and millions of dollars on advertising and promotional events like this one, most of them directed toward stunts, extreme sports, and things attractive to the younger crowd that generally drink their products. And no matter where I pointed the camera, "Red Bull" came up in the picture somehow. So here I am, writing about the air show and providing free advertising to Red Bull. See, it's working.
The Wake Boarder Guy: Yeah, I'm a bad reporter. I didn't get the name of the guy who did the wake boarder jumps and tricks as part of the show. I know he's a Panamanian guy, and that he's like a six-time X-games champion or something like that. Please, if anyone has the details send them to me and I'll and them in, right here. In any case, he did his stuff and between them they killed the two hours between the announced start time of 1:00 pm and the actual start of the air show which was 3:00 pm. The planners allowed a two-hour window for the "Panama time" effect, knowing everyone would show up late.
Here's The Video: I've been mixing in a little more video shooting lately, and here's the video I was able to shoot at this event. I really don't have the equipment, skills, or experience so it's really amateur stuff, but better than nothing, I guess.
Pre-Jump Fly By: Before the parachuter's did their thing they flew by the crowd to wave and to have their picture taken, as well as to get a good look at the drop zone. The sky divers were a big favorite with the crowds and they played it for all it was worth. The drop zones were right next to the crowd so they came right into the audience. Almost too much fun to be called work...
Formation Flying: It was fun to watch the pilots put the Zivko Edge 540 stunt performance aircraft through their paces. Most of the people in the crowd have very little or no experience with air shows and have probably never seen anything like the Air Force Thunderbirds or the Navy's Blue Angels. As a matter of fact when the pilots were doing some of the most impressive aerobatic stunts (and the aircraft are very capable stunt aircraft) the crowd seemed to be somewhat nonplussed. And usually at an air show the announcer knows what's coming and can help explain to the crowd what they are seeing. Not at this show. The announcer was just some goof-ball disc jockey who had no more of a clue than anyone else in the crowd, really. Whatever. My dad is a real aviation buff and as a kid I grew up going to air shows, so I was expecting the usual descriptions of the maneuvers and all of that. Nah, didn't happen.
Three Jumpers in Total: This is a photo of Othar Lawrence from Colorado, the first of three sky divers who performed at the show. He's been jumping for Red Bull for almost eleven years now, and has made thousands of jumps. He's actually "the longtime captain of the Red Bull Air Force" and he jumped from the helicopter with his para glider at an altitude of 2,000 feet. In total there were three jumps as part of the show.
Crowd Favorites: The people in the crowd could see the airplanes, but they really liked the sky divers because they could hop over the fence and get their picture taken with them. And of course the guys were working the crowd for all it was worth, having a great time and putting on a good show. Even "La Cascara" got into the act. I'm looking forward to see how this interview plays on television.
The Flying Slide-By: In this maneuver the pilot tips the wings over to the crowd and basically "slides by" on one side, making sure everyone has a chance to get a good photo of the aircraft (and the sponsor's logo, of course.)
And Then The Rains Came: The second rotation of the air show was just wrapping up when a typical rainy season late afternoon downpour descended upon the crowd. In this photo, the some guys who were in the VIP section took one of the cushions and turned it into an impromptu umbrella. There were thousands of people standing around outside, many who had taken umbrellas with them to create a little shade and then needed them for the unexpected cloud burst. The show abruptly ended, plan or no plan, when the rain came down.
Tear Down Crew: As the adoring Red Bull fans beat feet for their respective vehicles, the tear down crew headed out to the floating barges to deflate the pylons and to take down the rest of the parts and pieces for the show. Everyone got soaked to the skin, no big deal in Panama. Actually, par for the course.
Seeking Shelter: Air show attendees seek shelter under one of the viewing platforms as a late afternoon down pour put a sudden end to the air show, "Wings Over Amador." Any port in a storm, as the saying goes. Hey, so what, the kids are still smiling. It was a fun day out and something "different" anyway. Hopefully, a sign of things to come.
Copyright 2008 Text, Photos, and Video by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.