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Westmoreland Airshow returns after 10-year hiatus

| Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

Rich Carbone says he's been anxiously awaiting this weekend's Westmoreland County Airshow and is excited to see it return to Arnold Palmer Regional Airport after 10 years.

"It's sad that we haven't had a show here since 9/11," Carbone, 47, of Crabtree said on Friday. "It brings people up to the airports to see what they can't see anymore because of all the added security."

The last airshow was 44 days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Westmoreland County Airport Authority spokesman Dwayne Pickels said resulting changes in federal security regulations paired with runway and highway projects caused the 10-year hiatus.

"We just wanted to do it again; it's good for the airport and good for the community," Pickels said. "We'll just get the feel for it this year and see what we can do."

Though downsized, the show will return to the airport near Latrobe from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday, with planes zipping, rolling and dueling through the sky.

Pickels said the days' entertainment will entail at least six aircraft performances, including landing tricks, barrel rolls, wing-walking and mock dogfighting, a 300 mph school bus and monster truck duels.

Linda Anderson has been doing airshows with her husband, Andy, for six years. The couple fly their BAC-167 Strikemaster all over the United States from their home in Nashville to perform mock dogfights. Despite the similarities in the show's content, Anderson said they still find the magic in each show.

"This isn't like car racing — it's a different atmosphere, and I still get excited for it every time," Anderson said. "It's about the people, not about us, and it's about getting to show them things they can't usually see."

During yesterday's pre-airshow performance, Rostraver resident Art Fine saw a preview of the mock-dogfighting jets, some biplane flights and a flight comedy act, during which a car lands on top of a moving truck.

Fine, 55, said he felt lucky when his friend offered two tickets to fly at the preview show that she won from radio station Froggy Y108 FM. Art said despite his enthusiasm, he wasn't able to find a friend as excited about the free tickets.

"I couldn't find anyone to go with me, they were all either too busy or too fearful," Fine said.

Fine said he's never understood his family and friends' fear of planes, and he has always had a passion for airplanes and airshows. When he was in his 30s, Fine took that passion to a new level when he got his flying license and joined the Air Force.

"(The airshow) is such a cool thing — such a great opportunity, and I love flying," Fine said. "Offer me a flight in just about anything and I'll say yes."

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