Parachutes, stunt planes, and fighter jets take to the desert sky
By Terri Hill
Poppies at the Lancaster Reserve made a colorful backdrop for the west end of the runway at the L.A. County Air Show, “Red, White, and BOOM!” at the General William J. Fox Airfield last weekend. It was hard though, to take your eyes off the sky, and the sensational aerobatics and flying history lesson that wowed and educated an eager crowd. Before the Air Show began at noon, several Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) interactive displays and activities were available for perusal by the public. Participants included the Air Show’s title sponsor - Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, NASA, and high school scholarship winners. From model airplanes to fighter jet flight simulators, to 3-D printing, STEM enthusiasts young and old enjoyed the hands-on experiences. “Heroes and Legends” Aviation Panels were available to those who desired a more in-depth look at the history of flight. One panel, “Out of the Black” brought pilots of the F-117 stealth Fighter together for an informal discussion about the early years of the project, shrouded in history. Hal Farley, the F-117’s first Flight Test Pilot was on hand to describe the feeling of working on and piloting the night-flyer. In another panel venue, “Breaking Barriers: Women in Aviation” introduced Major Jennifer Housholder – Army Combat Helicopter Pilot, Lt. Col. Kelly Latmer – Air Force Combat and Test Pilot, NASA Test Pilot, and Virgin Galactic Test Pilot, and Kelli Grove – Delta Airlines Pilot to discuss women’s roles in commercial and military aviation.
Outside, static displays filled the spectator area of the airfield, from one end to the other. Aircraft representing conflicts from WWII to Desert Storm, aerobatic models, skywriters, and experimental drones were the center of attention and presented great photo ops for professional photographers and the general public alike. Perhaps the most impressive display was the C-17, a cargo (including eight Humvees at a time) and troop transport plane built by Boeing. With a wingspan of nearly 170 feet, and total length of 174 feet, the aircraft easily dwarfed the nearby hangars.
Also among the static displays were the aircraft that would perform in the show.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning with two USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthogs” at its wings represented the Warbird/Heritage Flight. So few P-38s still exist, it was a special treat for fans at the Air Show to see one in flight. This particular plane was painted honoring the original P-38 “23 Skidoo,” piloted in WWII by P.J. "Perry" Dahl. The Germans referred to the planes as the Fork-Tailed Devil.
A particularly graceful plane, Dr. Vicky Benzing’s red 1940 Boeing Srearman was a hit as she showed off its power with traditional barnstorming maneuvers. Dr. Benzing bought the plane, originally a crop duster, in 1998. She flies it and her Extra 300S at air shows up and down the west coast. Dr. Vicky Benzing was born and raised in California, and is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer. Dr. Benzing has logged more than 7500 hours of flight time and more than 1200 parachute jumps. According to her website, she has been a pilot for thirty years and currently holds an airline transport pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders. She also holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley.
Rob Holland in his MXS-RH, Bill Stein in his Zivco Edge 540, and Matt Chapman flying his Extra 330LX call themselves “The Force” when these powerhouse aerobatic fliers perform together at air shows. Three of the most talented and award-winning pilots in the world, they also performed individually at the show.
The highlight of the displays, both in the air and on the ground, was the USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Squadron. Flying six Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, the precision aerobatics team performed 40 maneuvers, including team and individual routines. On the ground, the flight check crew for each plane demonstrated the same precision and dedication as the pilots would show in the air. Every action, from presentation of crew and pilots, to each plane taxiing in and the pilots approaching the spectator area for photo ops, was performed as a strict military drill. Patriotism won the day as maneuvers were performed to honor military members, their families, and those who came before, in support and service to the country. Thunderbird #2, Major Ryan Bodenheimer has been with the squadron for a year and a half. The Colorado Springs native has flown with the Air Force for nine years. Bodenheimer commented, “It (flying the F-16) is very physically demanding. It’s precise. And it’s a huge adrenaline rush!” CalTrans work on Hwy 138 brings traffic to a crawl
Caltrans informed the Mountaineer Progress on Friday, March 24 that the 138, west of I-15 will be reduced from two lanes down to one lane each direction (too late to put it in last weeks paper). Get ready for some major traffic delays. Drivers traveling on 138 from the Cajon Pass into Pinon Hills can experience delays of an hour or more. According to the press release: State Route 138 (West) Widening Project Daytime Flagging Operations The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues on the $52.1 million State Route 138 (SR138) West Widening Project. There will be daytime flagging and one-way traffic control on ST 138 between Lone Pine Road and Sayle Road. The flagging operations are expected to begin on Tuesday, March 28th and continue until Tuesday, April 4, 2017 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily. The flagging operations are necessary for pavement shoulder work. Additionally, the on-ramp from Eastbound 138 to Southbound I-15 is to be closed intermittently through April 30th between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. All four of the on and off ramps will be closed for several days when repaving of the bridge begins. Dates for that project will be announced when detour routes are established. Investigation into the death of Phelan resident On Monday, March 27, 2017, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Sheriff’s dispatch received a call regarding a possible body floating in the aqueduct in the area of El Centro Street and Cottonwood Avenue moving toward Ranchero Road. Deputies from the Hesperia Police Department, County Fire, and a Sheriff’s Dive Team member responded to the aqueduct at Ranchero and 11th. The body was recovered from the water by fire personnel and a dive team member. The Coroner’s Office responded to the location and took possession of the body. Detectives from the Specialized Investigations Division, Homicide Detail, responded and are currently conducting a Death Investigation. The victim has been identified as Alfonzo Mercado. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Specialized Investigations Division, Homicide Detail, Detective Jon Cahow or Sergeant John Gaffney at (909)387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463), or you may leave information on the We-Tip website at www.wetip.com. No additional information is available for release. Updates will be issued as new information becomes available.
Special traffic alert:
The signal at Beekley will be on flash for about another week due to non-working electrical equipment. Caltrans is working diligently to get the signal working but it will take us approximately one week to correct.
Tyeisha Prunty Public Information Officer Caltrans District 8
Les Misérables opens to rave reviews
By Terri Hill
Serrano drama teacher Beverly Quinn took a bold step in scheduling Victor Hugo’s tragic Les Misérables for her Bravo! Performance Ensemble to perform this season. And, as usual, she knew what she could expect from her students. Opening night last Friday was a triumph, and Saturday’s opening with the alternate cast was just as well received. The audience was tuned in to the performance, and as Quinn commented during intermission, “You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre,” as the players held the attention of their viewers. The story is set in early 19th Century France and follows the life of Jean Valjean, a French peasant. After his release from a 19-year imprisonment, Valjean takes to heart the words of kind bishop, who encourages Valjean to accept his charity, and to redeem and make something of himself. As Valjean breaks his parole and starts a new life, he is continually pursued by police Inspector Javert, who wants to bring Valjean to justice. Ty Rogoff played the part of Valjean in Friday’s performance. Acting in his 14th production, Rogoff has an easy manner on stage. Josh Soper plays the role in the alternate cast. A senior this year, Josh is planning to study theatre next year at Citrus College. He said, “My parents have been so supportive, they said I should follow my dream.” Fantine is a tragic character played by Brook Palmer (3/24 & 4/1) and Abby DeArman (3/25 & 3/31). Unable to raise her daughter Cosette alone, Fantine leaves the child with a family who promises to take care of her, for a price. Fantine suffers from consumption and when the character succumbs, with her benefactor Valjean at her side, both young actresses brought tears to the eyes of audience members, and to those of Mrs. Quinn. DeArman explained that with such a heavy show, Mrs. Quinn wanted to be sure the students didn’t get dragged down emotionally. “She would have us tell jokes before the show, to keep things light backstage.” DeArman added, “It was refreshing.” Inspector Javert is tormented by Valjean’s disappearance. He is relentless in his pursuit of the man who has reinvented himself. Xavier Fortman, a junior this year, played the part on opening night. Fortman was convincing in his frustration and berating himself for being unable to bring in his nemesis. In the same role, on alternate evenings, Jacob Ruffalo brings the excitement of playing, “My favorite character in the musical version.” Ruffalo expressed his appreciation for the gracious audience; he mentioned their kind remarks made after the performance Saturday. Actors look for challenging roles to play, and for Josh Gonzales and Brenden Niklaus, the role of the evil Thenardier was just that. As head of a struggling family, Thenardier is ever scheming to bilk innocents of their money. Gonzales played the part with just the right vileness, without slipping into melodrama. His counterpart, Niklaus, said it was fun to play a man who was, “evil, all the way through!” Niklaus enjoyed the comments from members of the audience after the show. “I had people say, “I was hating you!” “It was a good crowd, they were into it.”
Hertiage School completes Public Speaking event
Todd Anton, the 8th grade US History teacher at Heritage School in Phelan, recently finished up their 22nd annual "We the People" civics program which is affiliated with the Center for Civics Education a bipartisan program to educate students in American civics and government. This program was started back in 1987 by act of Congress and led be former Chief Justice Warren Burger and then Speaker Tip O'Niel and President Ronald Reagan. Heritage School hosted "We the People," (http://www.civiced.org/) a public speaking event for their 8th grade students in front of a panel of judges. Learning about the foundations of our government, our founding documents and the remarkable thinkers of our democratic government was an essential outcome. The students, while nervous about the public venue, performed spectacularly and the judges were very impressed. Also as part of learning about community service these students at Heritage for years have organized and hosted the annual High Desert Veterans' dinner which to date has raised nearly $90,000 to honor our local veterans with a free dinner in their honor. As a result, these students received recognition from Supervisor Robert Lovingood and Snowline Superintendent Dr. Ryan Holman this past Friday at the Heritage Multipurpose Room for their civic and community achievements.
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