Thousands throng to Santa Rosa air show

  • A Hawker Sea Fury leaves behind smoke vortices during the Wings Over Wine Country Air Show, Saturday August 18, at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

When crowds get close to an ear-numbing F-18E Super Hornet or a flock of roaring P-51 Mustangs, jaws drop and it's not just the kids who are awestruck.

Adults shed the years when they see pilots such as Spencer Suderman and Bill Cornick take aerobatic planes straight up and seemingly defy gravity for a few seconds before they come tumbling down.

For most of Santa Rosa, the annual weekend Wings over Wine Country air show is little more than periodic rumbling in the sky or the occasional sighting of a low-flying aircraft.

Wings Over Wine Country 2012


But for the 10,000 to 12,000 people who attended the event Saturday at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, it was a chance to see death-defying stunts as well as learn something about the nation's storied aviation history.

The air show, which continues today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers a full complement of military jets, civilian aerobatic aircraft and older military warbirds such World War II fighter planes.

Stunt pilots include Julie Clark flying a T-34 Mentor and Tim Weber flying a German-made Extra 300S unlimited-class composite monoplane.

Weber, who is sponsored by Geico insurance, said he was excited to fly in the Sonoma County event, which he said was a great venue for an air show.

"I do everything an airplane is not supposed to do," he said about an hour before his routine. He usually spends a few moments alone in his trailer going over in his mind the various tricks he is to perform.

His descriptions were almost as intense as the actual stunts.

"I'll be flying along at probably 130, 140 miles and hour and then just pull the nose up and stop and just stop in the sky and just sit there and then I'll flop it over on its back and fly off in the other direction,"

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