Pilot to sing patriotic songs to crowd in air show routine

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldJuly 25, 2013 

Will Allen left a thick trail of white smoke as he looped and rolled his aerobatic plane Thursday afternoon through the blue skies of the Tri-Cities.

The experienced pilot is bringing his S-2B plane and a unique routine that he says is like no other in the world to this year's HAPO Over the River Air Show as part of Water Follies weekend.

Not only does Allen defy gravity with his routine, he also adds a bit of showmanship not usually associated with flying.

Known as "The Flying Tenor," Allen will sing patriotic songs while he flies over the Columbia River. The sound will be transmitted through a wireless mic in his plane and projected to the boat race spectators.

""We don't know of anyone else in the world that does this," said his wife Lynda Allen.

The air show runs today, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the Columbia River between Kennewick and Pasco.

Will Allen -- who has been a pilot for more than 20 years -- has been in multiple bands and is a tenor singer.

"I've done pretty much every type of music there is," he said, standing in front of his plane at Bergstrom Airfield in Pasco on Thursday.

Will Allen decided to incorporate music into his routine during a casual conversation with his wife a few years ago. The couple had friends who helped them with the sound quality and before he knew it, Allen was mixing the national anthem into his routine.

"You definitely got a lot going on up there," he said.

He will be one of five new acts at this year's show, said air show Director Scott Meyer. This show will be a half-hour shorter than years past and won't feature any military personnel because of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Even though the military element will be missing, Meyer is excited about the way the show has evolved and what the pilots have in store for the crowd.

"Everybody in this year's show is new," he said. "They are all extremely experienced. It's a very well-rounded show."

The show will feature a two-man team from Alabama called the Red Eagles that will fly in tandem and perform tricks together, Meyer said. Meyer said it is a first for the show that two pilots will have their routine centered around each other.

The Red Eagles have performed all across America and have a high energy routine that showcases variations of "skydancing."

"We are just tickled to be here," said pilot Dan McClung of Red Eagles. "We have something for the kids, the moms and the dads."

Two rare planes from Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection in Everett are also set to perform. The F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat were used in the Korean War and will show off some formation flying during their routine.

"It's fun to be able to come out and participate," said Dan Blanchard of the Flying Heritage Collection. "The biggest thing we want to do is to bring attention to the history of these planes."

The show will also feature Will Allen -- who will kick off the show with God Bless America -- and a fighter aircraft out of Everett called a Supermarine Spitfire. An Alpha Jet will finish the show off with a full aerobatic routine that Meyer said will have people on their feet.

"It's going to be loud. It's going to be fast. It's going to be dramatic," he said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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