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High flyers wow kids of all ages at Cable Air Show

It was easy to see how Danbury Elementary School students were thrilled with the roar of plane engines on Friday, January 10 at the Cable Airport. As part of the weekend-long air show, stunt pilots were able to use Friday afternoon as a sort of practice time.

The organizers of the Cable Air Show continue to reach out to special needs students and seniors from surrounding communities to see the pilots test the air for the weekend. This “Special Program for Special People” has been a tradition for the past nine years.

“The airbox has to be approved by flight regulation standards so they do this practice. Well if they are up there doing it then why not share that with the community?” Pat Yarborough, a long-time volunteer at Cable airport said.

Ms. Yarborough, Howard Bunte and Virginia Harmer coordinated the day so guests could watch the practices and learn a little about the planes. Invitations went out to children from the Special Education Programs at Danbury Elementary School and El Roble Intermediate School, children of Ability First, students from Upland’s Cabrillo Elementary School and Seniors from Claremont Manor and Pilgrim Place.

“A lot of these students would never have the chance to be on a tarmac,” Principal of Danbury Elementary Steve Hamilton said.

Between performances, the students were taken over to see the planes up close. They were able to touch a propeller if they wanted and see the instruments that helped make the acrobatic tricks possible.

“They need that tangible object to put their hands on to really connect. You can read a book, but being able to stand next to the plane you just read about helps.” Mr. Hamilton said.

Guests applauded and talked excitedly about the planes as they flew through the air. One performance, the flight of a bright yellow Antonov AN-2, left many in awe as it lumbered through the air. The 50 year old beast only went about 40 miles per hour on take off and seemed to float up into the sky rather than fly. It circled the area a few times and “walked” by pulling its nose back and almost gliding past the crowd as guests applauded and pointed at the plane.

But when Frank Donnelly took to the sky in his 1946 Taylorcraft, the real screaming began. Barrel rolls, smoke trails, spins, stalls and loops made onlookers squeal with excitement.

“I like the one that goes around and around and I liked the smoke,” 10-year-old spectator Isaac Giron said. Isaac was sitting in the front row and excitedly pointed at each plane that took off.

One class sat munching on In-n-Out burgers as they watched the air acrobatics. Many students looked for letters in Mr. Donnelly’s smoke trails exclaiming, “look there is a cursive e!” as he did his tricks in the sky.

“The engine cut out, that was a stall but he knew what to do” third through sixth grade teacher at Danbury School, Debbie McCurdy said. “That would scare me to death.”

Ms. McCurdy sat with her class and explained how the plane’s tricks were perfectly safe since Mr. Donnelly was a professional. Every year she presents a small lesson on aerodynamics for her class before they visit the Cable Air Show.

“They work so hard. I think they deserve rewards and treats. We like to make an event out of everything.” Ms. McCurdy said.

The students whispered to one another and laughed loudly as the show continued. Besides being able to watch a private show, they were all able to visit with one another in the sunny, warm weather.

“Its always good to have something to look forward to, we all need that,” Ms. McCurdy said.

The Cable Air Show is an annual event and takes place at the Cable Airport in Upland. All proceeds from the weekend event went toward scholarships for students interested in aviation.

–Christina Collins Burton

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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