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Fog Puts Damper on Annual Air Show

Flight: Inclement weather grounds the Thunderbirds, the main attraction for opening day of the Point Mugu spectacular.

March 31, 2001|MARGARET TALEV | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As 52,000 flight enthusiasts looked to the skies Friday, a blanket of afternoon fog settled in, grounding the main attraction on opening day of the 38th annual Point Mugu Air Show.

"The kids are very disappointed," said Tammy Cantrell of Newbury Park, whose 9-year-old son Taylor and his friend Brian Miller had looked forward to seeing the Air Force Thunderbirds in action.

The precision flying team is set to perform today at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. if the weather clears up.

The forecast calls for low clouds and fog again this morning, with partial clearing in the afternoon and more clouds and fog by dusk. Sunday's forecast should be similar, with a high of 68 degrees.

Visibility should be four to five miles today and Sunday, said Bill Hoffer of the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The Thunderbirds need five miles of visibility to fly.

The air show starts at 8 a.m. today with a radio-controlled airplane demonstration. The Russian Thunder, a Yak 54 aircraft manufactured in Russia in 1996, will also be on display.

Before the fog kicked in Friday, visitors checked out dozens of planes, from a tightly guarded F-117 Stealth fighter on the ground, to a red-and-white GeeBee replica that flitted and twirled across the sky.

Military veterans sat on the grass and watched quietly. "I come and reminisce," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Frank Carnathan, 77, of Santa Barbara, who served in World War II and the Korean War. "When they're on the ground, you can look at them, touch them, sit in the cockpits. And that brings back memories."

Children ate hot dogs, rode carnival rides, painted their faces with camouflage colors and marveled at the roar of the jets.

"Hey, Daddy, here comes an airplane!" shouted 4-year-old Emilio Moreno of Oxnard from atop his father's shoulders.

"I look forward to seeing my son react with the planes," said Jaime Moreno, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher. "He loves them. All day today he was going 'Whoosh,' making jet noises. His day-care teacher was like, 'He's going to the air show, isn't he?' "

While civilians could let their hair down, this was a work day for the crew chief of the Stealth fighter and seven members of the Air National Guard security patrol watching over it.

The $100-million fighter jet, which officials said had seen action in Operation Desert Storm and Kosovo, was roped off from the public. People could look but not touch.

Guards were ready to pounce if someone tried to break the rules.

"Everything from tip to tail is my responsibility," explained Senior Airman David Paine as he eyed the crowd. "It's my baby."

*

Staff writer David Kelly contributed to this report.

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