For a guy who makes his living racing jet-powered vehicles down airport runways at hundreds of miles an hour, falling off a ladder is surely not high on his list of safety concerns.
But that’s exactly what happened to Paul Stender back in March, forcing his 2014 Thunder in the Valley appearance to be cancelled. He fell onto the concrete floor of his Brownsburg, Indiana shop, broke his left wrist, and injured his back as well.
You kind of need both arms healthy to keep a school bus under control at 350+ miles per hour, so we can excuse Paul for his absence.
And now we’re happy to report that he not only recovered just fine, he’ll be bringing his “Indy Boys” act to Columbus for the 2015 Thunder in the Valley Air Show on March 21-22. In addition to the “School Time” Jet Powered School Bus, Paul also drives the 70-mph “Jet Outhouse,” a jet-powered Polaris RZR ATV and a jet-powered doghouse.
Just as Paul was cleared to return to the driver’s seat, Thunder in the Valley is “Cleared for Takeoff” in 2015. The Indy Boys are just the first of an exciting performer lineup we have in store for next year’s show, so be sure to watch this website and our Facebook page as we announce more acts soon!
Thunder in the Valley 2014 offers spectators some unique opportunities to experience aviation in an up-close-and-personal way.
There are, of course, thrilling acts to be seen on and above the runway, including Kyle Franklin’s Flying Circus, the multi-talented Melissa Pemberton and Paul Stender’s Indy Boys jet-powered vehicles.
But the variety of aircraft and other machinery that will be on static display is intriguing in its own right. Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll see at Columbus Airport on March 15 and 16:
- Douglas A4-K Skyhawk: Draken International operates the largest fleet of privately owned tactical aircraft in the world, including this beautifully restored fighter jet.
- Douglas DC-3: This former Braniff Airways airliner has been immaculately restored and will be available for tours at only $2 per person.
- Grumman C-1 Trader: The Trader was a workhorse for the U.S. Navy, serving more than three decades as a cargo and electronic countermeasure aircraft.
- North American T-28 Trojans: This pair of classic military trainers will be on hand from Tennessee’s Hixson Museum of Flight.
- Douglas C54E: This four-engine transport is owned by the Berlin Airlift Foundation and was part of that critical late-1940s rescue operation.
- CAMO Group Vehicles: Air power goes hand in hand with ground forces, and this collection of vehicles is an impressive display of U.S. military might.
And that’s not all. For those who desire to slip the bonds of earth, the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation will offer rides in a pair of Bell helicopters, the UH-1H Huey and the AH-1F Cobra (prices vary). Each gives riders an unforgettable experience on a classic chopper known for extensive service in Vietnam.
Can you hear that rumble? It’s Thunder in the Valley, less than two weeks away now, and the list of exciting performers continues to grow. Just added to the lineup are the speedy, Czech-built L-39 Albatros jet (pictured); the graceful FG1D Corsair; and the Helio U-10A, guaranteed to dazzle with its short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities.
And did we mention the Jet Outhouse? That’s right, Paul Stender of The Indy Boys is not only bringing his Jet Powered School Bus – complete with a 42,000-horsepower engine from an F-4 Phantom fighter jet – he’ll also take a ride in the “Port-O-Jet,” which he constructed with a portable toilet, a go-cart chassis and a Boeing turbine engine.
“It’s fair to say that Port-O-Jet doesn’t handle that well. In fact, it drives a bit like an outhouse,” Stender says. However, he adds, “With a good tailwind it can reach up to 70 MPH, which isn’t bad for a toilet.”
From World War II-era classics to innovative jet propulsion technology, the 2014 edition of Thunder in the Valley will roar like never before!
Aerobatic pilot. Skydiver. B.A.S.E. jumper. Rock climber. Clearly, Melissa Pemberton has a thing for adrenaline. It wasn’t always that way, however. As a young passenger in a two-seat Cessna 150, she cried and begged the pilot — her grandmother — to land right away. Pemberton’s grandfather later taught her to fly in that same aircraft. She earned her private pilot certificate as a teenager in 2002, and two years later was flying a Pitts biplane in competitions and airshows. Today she flies the Zivco Edge 540. With a roll rate of 420 degrees per second and a climb rate of 3,700 feet per minute, it’s a considerable upgrade from that little Cessna — and an adrenaline rush for pilots and spectators alike. Want to experience that rush up close? Buy your tickets here and watch Pemberton perform at Thunder in the Valley 2014!
Lt. Colonel Jerry “Jive” Kerby‘s Van’s RV-8A, known affectionately as “Wild Blue,” is reminiscent of the confident house cat that stands in front of a mirror and sees a roaring lion staring back.
With Kerby at the controls of the kit-built plane from Van’s Aircraft, “Wild Blue just might be the only RV-8A that thinks it’s a fighter jet,” says Kerby’s narrator, LM “Lunar” Sawyer.
Jive and Wild Blue are the latest addition to Thunder in the Valley’s 2014 lineup of exciting performance acts.
The RV-8A is unique in that it’s a regular on the air show circuit yet can be built in a general aviation pilot’s garage. Kerby has over 13,000 hours of flight time in more than 60 different types of aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom, the F-15C Eagle and the MiG-17, but he says nothing compares to the sporty RV-8A.
With a 180-horsepower, fuel-injected Lycoming engine, and inverted fuel and oil systems, Wild Blue is capable of sustained inverted flight and speeds up to 212 mph.
Don’t miss this thrilling act, just one of many must-see performers at Thunder in the Valley 2014.
Come to the 2014 air show and you are guaranteed to experience “Thunder in the Air and On the Ground.” That’s the theme this year, and for good reason: There are all sorts of opportunities to be close to the action at Columbus Airport on March 15-16.
One of those “In the Air” acts adds a bit of “On the Ground” to the routine at the same time. Kyle Franklin’s Wing-Tip Draggin’ Comedy Act is more extreme than the typical flying farmer routine, thanks to the performance capabilities of a 181-horsepower Piper Super Cub named “Franklinstein.”
With Franklin’s alter ego, drunken pilot Ben Wabnaski, at the controls, the Super Cub repeatedly puts its skid plate-protected wingtips on the ground while seemingly defying the laws of aerodynamics.
Franklin’s Flying Circus & Airshow also features Franklin in “Dracula,” his custom-built, 500-plus-horsepower Waco biplane. Visit the Performers page for more on Franklin, aerobatic pilot Melissa Pemberton and other high-performance acts sure to please spectators at 2014 Thunder in the Valley.
EAA Chapter 677 thanks Thunder in the Valley for providing tickets to participants in the chapter’s Young Eagles program. Twenty-seven tickets were distributed during Young Eagles on December 28, and tickets will be available to new and past participants (who have not already received a ticket) at the next two Young Eagle events, on Saturday, January 25 and Saturday, February 22.
Young Eagle flights are available at no charge for children ages 8-17 on the last Saturday of every month, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.677.eaachapter.org or find us on Facebook (search Chattahoochee Valley EAA Chapter 677).