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Wing-walker Joe Bender waves to the crowd as he dangles off the bottom wing of The Flying Circus' biplane during the 2019 Manassas Airshow, May 4.

Aviation enthusiasts from the Prince William County region gathered at Manassas Regional Airport on May 4 for the 2019 Leaseweb Manassas Airshow.

Several organizations were on hand for the flight ramp displays, including the Civil Air Patrol’s Prince William Squadron. The CAP continues to fulfill its three main missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

“Our main mission is search and rescue of aircraft and missing people, as well as disaster relief at the request of Virginia Department of Emergency Management, FEMA or any other local agency, fielding a ground team of local cadets and airborne search,” said B.H. Sommers, Operations Officer and maintenance officer for the squadron’s 14 aircraft.

Manassas-based American Aviation and American Helicopters were on hand offering flight instruction packages from private pilot up to multi-engine commercial and instructor ratings.

Military hardware was also on display, with the Capitol Wing, Commemorative Air Force,  showing off its World War II TBM Avenger torpedo bomber; L-5 Sentinel, used for forward air control and a1950’s T-6Texan trainer.

The largest profiles on the flight line included a C-54 Skymaster that had participated in the famous Berlin Airlift in 1948, and a Marine CH-53 helicopter, with lines of visitors queuing up to go inside.

But unlike the nearby National Air and Space Museum, the thrill of airshows is not merely seeing aircraft up close, but to see how they handle at the hands of the best pilots in the country. Visitors got to see biplanes, formation flying and some precise flight maneuvers. Harkening back to the earliest airshows in the ‘20s, The Flying Circus, based in Bealton, took to the skies with a Stearman biplane. While Chuck Tippetts was piloting, Joe Bender moved around, above and even waved to the audience while dangling from the bottom wing by his ankles.

The highlight performance was by the U.S. Air Force A-10 Demonstration Team, showing why the twin-engine Thunderbolt II is the ground soldier’s best friend, with incredible agility and phenomenal firepower for close air support.

But size isn’t everything. Clemens Kulig was a professional chef whose passion for flying spurred him to build his own light Pitts Special biplane. Kulig, who flies as Chefpitts, performed loops, twists, flat spins and even performed an inverted flight 25 feet over the runway to snap a ribbon with his rudder.

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