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Don’t keep your eyes glued to the water during Water Follies. You’ll miss these sky aces

Soaring over the Tri-Cities

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Drew and David Watson grew up in an air show family.

The brothers remember riding in the back of their father’s plane during the summers when he traveled to air shows. They seemed destined to become pilots.

“(Our dad) got involved in 1978 when he bought his first airplane, and he flew until 2009. We picked it up when we were kids and we saw how much fun it was,” David said. “It’s our passion. Some people love golfing. Some people love canoeing. We just love flying airplanes.”

For Drew, who became a commercial pilot when he was in middle age, he also wants to inspire people to follow their dreams no matter their age.

The brothers make up the Yellow Thunder formation aerobatic team. They are performing during the HAPO “Over the River” Air Show during the 54th annual Tri-City Water Follies. People can see them performing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Columbia Park. They are scheduled to fly each day at 11:30 a.m.

Members of the media got a chance to meet the people that pilot the planes during a special event Thursday at Bergstrom Aircraft.

The Watson brothers fly matching planes — a North American Aviation single-prop plane known north of the border as a Harvard and in the United States as an AT-6 Texan. For David, it was his father’s plane, and Drew pilots the one his father’s friend used to own.

“These airplanes have been in the same hangar since 1985-ish,” David said.

The plane model dates back to Word War II, and everything outside of the navigation is analog. They described it as similar to driving a 1960s muscle car compared with today’s largely computer-controlled model vehicles.

They’ve performed as far north as the 68th parallel and as far south as Arizona, and in each place people will stop to talk to them about the planes. Whether they were working on them or used to fly them or were just interested, the brothers get all sorts of people who approach the with questions and comments about the aircraft.

Several pilots to perform

It’s something that Boise resident Mark Peterson sees as well.

He will be taking up the Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet during the performances. The late-’70s jet can reach a maximum speed of 621 mph, which is just shy of the speed of sound.

Peterson, a Boise native, also found his love for flight at a young age. For him it was when he was 6 years old. The son of a World War II pilot, his father found ways to stay involved in aviation after the war.

The younger Peterson started flying as a child and had his first solo flight at the age of 16. He started with P-51 Mustangs and then added the jet in 2007.

“Ever since I was a small child, the idea of flying like a bird has been appealing,” he said. “This airplane is probably the closest to pure flight that you can get because it has so much thrust.”

The performers will be joined by returning pilots Michael Wiskus, who is bringing his Pitts S-1-11b, and Renny Price, who will be going up in an experimental plane.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.
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