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Dial Easy: Ace Maker Airshows and the T-33 Shooting Star

As we near our 2019 Central Valley Air Show, we would like to introduce you to some of the aerial performers and their rides that you will witness on September 21-22, here at NAS Lemoore.

In this edition, we bring you Ace Maker Airshows.

Pilot Gregory “Wired” Colyer is a California native who took his first flight at the age of 7 in a Cessna172 with Dr. Lee Schaller out of the Schellville airport in Sonoma, Calif. Hooked ever since, Greg has been licensed since the age of 18 after learning how to fly while serving in the U.S. Army from 1982-1987.

After leaving the service, he spent 27 years with the FAA as an Air Traffic Controller at Oakland ARTCC, 1988-2015. His passion for flying never left him as he continued to fly as a hobby, mostly in Beechcraft T-34 Mentors, until he imported a Russian L-29 Delfin in 2003 along with a few of his friends.

After flying numerous other ex-military jet aircraft, it was flying Kay Eckhart’s T-33 in 2007 that decided Greg’s next aircraft. One of his favorite aircraft as a youngster, the Shooting Star held a special place in his dreams. So he set his sights on America’s first operational jet fighter and trainer and his search began. He acquired his T-33 Heritage Foundation to help in the preservation of the type.

He holds a Commercial Pilot certificate with instrument, single and multi-engine ratings as well as being a certified flight instructor. He is type-rated in the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. Aero Vodochody’s L-29 and L-39 aircraft. Over 1,000 hours in the T-33, an unrestricted surface level aerobatic waiver and FAST lead formation card round out his qualifications.

Greg stays in shape for flying high-performance aircraft by competitive cycling and an occasional Ironman Triathlon.

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Now The Aircraft

On June 23, 1943 General Hap Arnold approved a letter contract for Lockheed to build the XP-80. The first XP-80, nicknamed Lulubelle, was built in the security of a temporary structure thrown together in 10 days from old engine packing crates. An entire machine shop was purchased so that the tools needed to build Lulubelle would not be taken away from the Lockheed assembly line currently in wartime production. 123 men, 23 engineers and 105 shop men worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week to build the first XP-80. The head designer was none other than the famed Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson. On January 8, 1944, just 203 days after the contract was signed the XP-80 lifted off the dry lakebed with Milo Burcham at the controls. Lulubelle flew! Top speed was 502 mph.

On November 8, 1950, the first jet-vs-jet aerial combat took place between a P-80 Shooting Star and a MIG-15 in the area in northwest Korea later known as “MIG Alley.” Several days prior to that fateful day, MIG-15 jets had been encountered by U.S. Air Force P-51Ds on patrol near the Yalu River. On the afternoon of 8 November, Lt. Russell Brown piloting his Shooting Star of the 16th Fighter Squadron, outmaneuvered two attacking MIG-15s, tacked onto the tail of one of them, and poured .50 caliber fire into him until the MIG exploded. It was the first of 827 MIGs to be shot down in Korea and the first jet-vs-jet victory ever.

While the T-33 is predominantly associated as an Air Force jet, the U.S. Navy at one time used its own variant, the Lockheed T2V-1/T-1 Sea Star carrier jet trainer up until its replacement by the T-2 Buckeye.

Ace Maker Airshows is proud to present the T-33 Shooting Star. As America’s first operational jet fighter and jet trainer, these aircraft represent a piece of American history that ushered us into a new generation, and have helped pave the way for the lives and freedom we enjoy today.

We hope you join us as Ace Makers Airshows promises to be one of our unforgettable acts at our 2019 Central Valley Air Show. Remember that the air show is open to the public, free of charge and free parking. Gates open at 08:00 a.m.

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All my best,

Captain David James

Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Lemoore

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