A group of pilots from the Classic Jet Aircraft Association have come to Griffiss Airport for aerobatic and formation training. It’s known as a Jet Blast. Pilot Larry Lee is participating in a clinic so he can fly the lead plane in a formation. The pilots are flying in Aerovodochody L39 Albatros Russian Fighter Training Jets, and they’re packed with power.
Atlanta, Georgia Pilot Larry Lee says: "These birds have 3800 pounds of thrust, which is nothing compared to the fighting arsenal of the United States Airforce right now, but it’s as close as we can get to being jet fighter pilots."
Award winning pilot Rick Vandam tells us these pilots generally fly every 4 to 6 weeks to keep their skills honed, because you don’t want to make any mistakes at the speeds they fly.
"Typically because we’re doing a lot of aerobatics, so we will be anywhere from 150 to 450 (mph) depending on doing loops and rolls and as we combine. Generally when we practice the formation flying, we’re generally around 300 miles per hour."
West Palm Beach, Florida Pilot Scott Farnsworth is one of the pilots that came here to train, but he wasn’t happy with how the craft was performing, so erring on the side of safety, he has a crew doing some repairs.
"Just like NASCAR, you got to put er’ up on the blocks and change out some tires or some parts, so that’s what’s going on right now. We’re just obviously trying to get back up and running so we can get back into the training sequence and accomplish our goals for the weekend."
Event Coordinator Lisa Lovett is coordinating the event and tells us you can expect to see these and other planes flying around the skies of Rome throughout the weekend, but unfortunately you’ll have to view the aerobatics from outside the airport.
"It’s our hope that the entire community will enjoy seeing the formation flying and the aerobatic flying that they’ll see this week. It’s kind of like a mini airshow, but it’s not an airshow."
This is a website for more information about the event.