County Air Fair buzz ignites excitement |

County Air Fair buzz ignites excitement

Baron ZahuranecRifle CorrespondentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado This might be the coolest thing ever.James Hathoway, 14, of Grand Junction, didnt want to wait for the afternoons performance, he wanted it now.As part of the Garfield County Air Fair, which wraps up today at the Garfield County Airport, Neal Darnells Flash Fire Jet Truck is what Hathoway is speaking about.I was talking with the driver and he said thered be all kinds of smoke and fire, he said. Who wouldnt want to see that?Darnells truck boasts over 12,000 horsepower, and when he bumps the afterburner you can feel the explosion pound against your chest.It is a lot of truck to control, but Ive been doing this for seven years and I havent had an accident yet, thank heavens, Darnell said. Im always nervous when hes out there, but he seems to know what hes doing, his wife and crew chief, Marilyn said. He has been doing it long enough, so Im at the point where I just let him do his thing.His jet truck accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in just 1.5 seconds. Hes nearing his top speed of more than 370 mph in less than eight seconds. That is one heck of a fast truck, I cant wait to see it, Mike Russert, 39, of Silt, said. It is an impressive vehicle. It isnt everyday that you get to see a Pratt & Whitney jet engine sitting in the cab of a truck.Maybe I shouldve done that to my S-10 that I used to have, Russert joked.There will be a few stunt planes at the Air Fair as well.I think its real neat when those stunt planes do their tricks. It doesnt seem like that is what the planes should be doing, 12-year-old Bobby Wade, of Grand Junction, said. I bet its like being on the worlds best roller coaster.Also at the Air Fair was a mid-range, World War II bomber, a B-25H Barbie III. There were only 1,000 of the H models made and this one is the only one in the whole world that is up and running.Youre looking at a plane that no one else is looking at right now, crew chief Maynard Kealiher said. The B-25H packed a punch when it came to fighting, the H models were made to use in ground attacks. It has four .50-caliber machine guns on the nose, two .50-cal blister pack guns on the side, a .50-cal waist gun on each side behind the wings, and two .50-cal tail guns. Each of those would fire around 600 rounds per minute, or 10 per second.Besides the heavy machine guns, there is a 75 millimeter cannon on the nose, and the B-25H could carry around 3,000 pounds of bombs, typically six 500-pound bombs.On each wing sits a 1,750 horsepower Wright-Cyclone 2600-35 engine. Those bad boys use a little bit more oil than your car or truck. Each 14-cylinder engine uses 37.5 gallons of oil. It uses gas too 130 gallons per hour at cruising speeds of 240 mph.While Barbie III flew 58 missions, it didnt see any combat time during World War II. The B-25s had a number of models so it can be hard to differentiate between them.I had some friends who went over there (the Pacific) to do their job, Raymond Hicks, 84, of Craig, said. I want to say that one of them was in a B-25 navigating. But, that was so long ago Im just not sure. Thats a real feat to keep an old beast like that around.There is a crew of five guys who take the plane to air shows all over the United States. Pilots Dick Jones, Jim ODonnell, and Ray Hillson, and crew chiefs Frank Kurland and Kealiher.We baby this airplane and operate her gently, Kurland said. This is the last remaining one, we dont want to be to reckless with it.Rifle Resident Howard Earnest had a chance to fly in a few similar planes during his day.This is a great airplane, but boy, oh boy, its loud. Its like getting into a coffee can and having someone beat on the outside of it with drumsticks, he said.It might be loud but that doesnt deter any of the guys from sticking with Barbie III.When asked if Jones had a smile on his face when flying, he responded, You bet your sweet ass I do. Its a real privilege to be part of maintaining this history.Contact Baron Zahuranec at

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