- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

Thousands of sun-drenched spectators crowded the runways yesterday at Andrews Air Force Base to watch the Thunderbirds, the Air Force team of stunt-flying jet pilots, on the final day of the annual Joint Service Open House air show.

“The Joint Service Open House provides an excellent opportunity to interact with the best our nation has to offer; sons, daughters, neighbors and friends doing what they do best, serving their nation proudly,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Bruce C. Alexander.

But it was a civilian flier who got much of the applause. Nancy Lynn, born and raised in the Dayton, Ohio, hometown of the Wright brothers, wowed the crowd in a single-engine, prop-driven white airplane with red trim.

Spewing smoke, the Extra 300L headed upward at 200 mph, straight up, appeared to stall, and fell wing over wing before Mrs. Lynn brought the craft under control and swooped past the gasping crowds, parallel to the runway.

After landing, Mrs. Lynn came up to the temporary fence to shake hands and give autographs.

“The hardest thing was I got sweat in my eyes,” said Mrs. Lynn, who now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her 16-year-old son, Pete.

Next, Air Force Capt. James Costello demonstrated the in-flight capabilities of the F-15. Flying parallel to the runway, it went slower and slower and louder and louder, until it stopped, hovering like a helicopter. Then, it began flying in reverse. Then, straight up and away, returning to land a few minutes later.

The show began yesterday with a noon jump by the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team and concluded with the aerial acrobatics of the Thunderbirds about six hours later.

Some spectators brought blankets, tents and umbrellas for shelter from the sun. At intermission, they wandered among 120 planes displayed by the Air Force, Army Air Corps, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.

Many aircraft were open, and people lined up to climb inside and take a tour. Children could be seen at the controls of helicopters. One of the largest was a C-5C Galaxy, capable of carrying eight Greyhound buses, or 380 tons of cargo.

Show organizers could not estimate the number of spectators who came to the three-day show.

Last year, about 400,000 attended. About 220,000 attended the first show in 1959.

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