Hangar 24 AirFest
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Aviators

Exhilerating, exciting, and a bit crazy: Meet the Aviators performing at the 2nd Annual AirFest and Anniversary Celebration in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

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Our 2nd Anniversary is gearing up to be a top notch, high flying celebration! Civilian pilot Jon Melby will perform in his Hangar 24 Muscle Bi-Plane, while Vicky Benzing, the fastest female to ever qualify at the Reno Air Races, will perform, as will Kent Pietsch in his Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet. Bill Braack will roar down the runway in his Smoke-n-Thunder JetCar, capable of reaching speeds of 400 mph, while Greg Colyer will thrill you in his vintage jet!

Lots more to be announced, stay tuned to this page to get to know the stars of the show!

 

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Jon Melby

When it comes to super-aggressive, tear-up-the-sky aerobatics, nothing says “extreme” better than Hangar 24’s very own Jon Melby!  Flying the Hangar 24 Muscle Bi-Plane, Jon is back for his 7th consecutive Hangar 24 AirFest… and he plans to get even wilder in the skies over Redlands this year!  With over 20 years as an aerobatic pilot, Jon is the master at wringing PERFORMANCE out of his 350-horsepower aircraft, and he will pull over 8G’s positive and 4G’s negative during his routine… that’s more G’s than the F-35 can pull!  An Air Force veteran who flew classified special operations missions on the MC-130, Jon is an outgoing people-person, and we are proud to have him back on the Hangar 24 Team for 2018.  


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Greg Colyer

Let’s face it… jets are cool!!  And the AirFest line up will bring you a vintage aircraft from the 1950’s that was critical to transitioning our military from WWII propellers to the modern Jet Age:  the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star!

Greg Colyer and his jet that he named “Ace Maker” will throw down the noise and speed that makes AirFest the exciting show that it is!  Greg retired as an Air Traffic Controller, and is now a full-time airshow performer with a 2018 schedule that goes coast-to-coast, and includes Redlands… AND Hangar 24’s Lake Havasu AirFest this October! 

A two-seat version of the Korean War’s F-80 fighter jet, the T-33 trained some of America’s earliest jet aviators, and flew in the USAF until the late 1980’s.  As an AirFest guest, you will get to see this beautiful and historic aircraft rip through the skies over the Inland Empire in a tribute to our veterans from days gone by. 


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Jon “Huggy” Huggins – AirFest Announcer and Ringmaster

On the mic, in his seventh year at AirFest, will be Jon Huggins.  No stranger to airshows, Huggy has spent his ‘spare’ time the past 30+ years hanging around airshows as a flying performer, static display, and all-around aircraft bum.  His interests include not only the popular civilian and military airplanes currently on the airshow circuit, but also the many spectacular classic warbirds and experimental aircraft flying today.  In 2007 he put his knowledge to use and started announcing airshows on the West Coast – receiving great reviews from the general public and seasoned performers alike.

Huggy is a former Air Force pilot with over 7000 military pilot hours and 4100 flights.  He was only the 4th person in history to achieve 2500 hours in the U-2 while on active duty and has had the opportunity to fly over 100 different military and civilian aircraft. 

As an aviation enthusiast, Huggy enjoys learning the history of just about anything aviation related, and loves to hear the personal stories of all pilots, famous or not.  The breadth and depth of his aviation knowledge comes out on the microphone, and gives the crowd a unique insight to the spectacle in front of them. 

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Vicky benzing

Bringing the sound and the fury of a 450 horsepower, super-charged Stearman bi-plane looping and rolling over the Hangar 24 AirFest, Vicky Benzing is back for her 7th consecutive Hangar 24 AirFest appearance!!   

“Aviation” is her passion… and she is an accomplished skydiver, back-country pilot, helicopter pilot, competition aerobatic pilot… and flying in a rare L-139 military jet, she became the fastest woman to ever fly in the Reno National Air Races at nearly 500 mph!

Vicky’s 1940 Stearman is highly-modified from its original 220-horsepower engine.  If you’re not familiar with the Stearman bi-plane, just take a look at a bottle of Hangar 24 Amarillo Pale Ale!


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Kent Pietsch

Quite possibly the most recognizable civilian airshow performer in North America, Kent Pietsch returns to Redlands! 

Known as “The Jelly Belly guy”, Kent’s unbelievable flying skills will leave you mesmerized during each of the three VERY different acts that he does:  a comedy act; a truck-top landing; and an aerobatic performance… with the engine turned off!

With over 40 years as an airshow performer, Kent has received every major award from the Airshow Industry, and is also an Honorary Member of the Royal Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Team.

His Jelly Belly-sponsored 1942 Interstate Cadet weighs in at 800 pounds, and only has 90 horsepower… but you simply will not believe what he does with that airplane! 

Kent performs throughout North America, Australia and elsewhere, and Hangar 24 is trilled to bring this world-class aviator and entertainer to our AirFest lineup!


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Bill Braack

10,000 horsepower…6,500 pounds of thrust…20-foot afterburner flames…0-400 mph in just 9 seconds…
It’s fast and loud…
A distinguished veteran, Bill retired from the military after a 20-year career in the US Air Force Reserves, where he served as Loadmaster on the C-141 and C-130 aircraft, and accumulated over 2,700 flight hours, and 150 hours of combat time. 
Bill has a bit of rivalry going with one of our aerial performers, and we are expecting that it will culminate in a jet car versus airplane drag race before the weekend is over!  You don’t want to miss this!!