Last Sunday, I had the privilege to return to one of my oldest interests, a love of aircraft and appreciation of the design and technology of flying machines. As the son of an Air Force jet pilot, it’s in my blood, it’s in my DNA.

As a twenty-one year old man in Saigon, my father, Van Trinh, enlisted in the South Vietnamese Air Force. In 1960, he was transported to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. For a little more than two years he learned how to operate an aircraft, initially cutting his teeth with a T-28, a propeller trainer aircraft. The cadet returned to Vietnam in 1963 after he graduated. Van, earning the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, at the time, operated a C-47, a transport plane that was used in World War II. He flew an AD-6 Skyraider, helming his first attack aircraft. His Skyraider was hit, at one point, about 30 klicks away from his air force base; Van managed to make it back to base with the wounded aircraft, crash-landing his plane on the runway. He earned a Medal of Valor for making it back without a scratch on his body.

There was also time spent with the C-123, another large transport plane. The rank of 1st Lieutenant followed in 1965, he became a Captain in 1967, commanding the Tiger Squadron, a crew of twelve pilots. Van made it to the rank of Major in 1969, and got his hands on his first supersonic jet, the T-38 Talon, a trainer. From 1970 to 1973, near the end of the Vietnam War, in the 522nd Squadron, he took the reigns of another supersonic attack jet, the wasp-like F-5E. In 1973, he was stationed at the Tactical Air Command Center at Tan Son Nhut AFB in Saigon. On April 30, 1975, with only the flight suit on his back, he was forced to flee Vietnam because of the conflict’s end. He landed in Pennsylvania and I was born in Oklahoma City a year later.

Twelve years later, in the late eighties, my father and I attended the first airshow at the Hillsboro airport, outside the city of Portland; oh, how time flies.

A quarter century later, we returned to the Oregon International Air Show in Hillsboro. It was called the Maxwell House Rose Festival Airshow back then and was a part of Portland’s annual Rose Festival. I vaguely recall the Blue Angels performing in one of the first couple of shows. It is one of the largest air shows on the West Coast, each year attracting some of the best aviators in the United States and Canada.

This turn, as we braved the blistering heat that hovered in the late nineties, we were instantly transported back to our childhood. I still recall Dad getting me that killer Thunderbirds model kit. With trusty and talented photographer, Nathan Sanborn, at our side, we camped out in the Media Tent and soaked up the nostalgia, the innovation, the pageantry, the blistering and guttural roars of the supersonic engines, and the gorgeous and sexy metal curves of the metal birds. We partook in the Oregon and National pride that was present; a pride that was genuine and never bordered on jingoistic. The level of wonderment we approached the the event with was only catapulted by the extensive eye candy; the top notch level of entertainment was goosebump-inducing. It’s almost draining. Did I mention that the United States Air Force Thunderbirds were the headliners?

And all of this is for a good cause. The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization has donated more than $1.2 million to 475 organizations since its inception. Net proceeds from the event are returned to the community through donations to local charities and non-profits. It’s a beautiful thing.

Check out the gorgeous photography collection by Nate. Our crew needs to thank our media contact, Steve Callaway, for setting this all up and accommodating us. Our media host, David Shin, also deserves a special “thank you” for making it a smooth experience. Kudos, Gentleman, you and your staff put on a memorable and great show.

We can’t wait for next year.

Uno Ab Alto. One Over All.


Van in the early 1960s

Major Van Trinh in Cockpit

Major Van Trinh with Flight Buddies, circa 1969


ALL IMAGES © Nathan Sanborn / The Superslice™


Air Show Static Displays



U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team

In 1962, the team earned the nickname the “Golden Knights” on the competition field of battle. “Golden” signifying the gold medals the team had won; “Knights,” proving that they were world champions and alluding to the fact that the team had “conquered the skies.” The Golden Knights continue to show audiences around the world why they are the world’s best parachute team and are one of only three Department of Defense sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, along with the US Navy Blue Angels and the USAF Thunderbirds. On this Sunday, Mayor of Hillsboro, Jerry Wiley, strapped in tandem with Staff Sergeant Noah Watts of the Golden Knights, jumped out of the Golden Knights’ perfectly working Fokker F27 Friendship and landed smack-dab in air show stage central. It was quite the entrance.



Oregon Air National Guard F-15

The Oregon Air National Guard and the 142nd Fighter Wing’s history began just prior to World War II, and today the fighting “Redhawks” are proud to defend our nation flying the F-15A/B. This unit guards the Pacific Northwest skies from northern California to the Canadian border as part of the North American Air Defense system.



John Klatt Air Shows

“Need for Speed” best describes John’s dizzying sequence of tricks and explosive maneuvers. Shortly after high school, John began to train and participate in competitive aerobatic contests on both the regional and national level. He was soon flying air shows for the Air National Guard, and later deployed to Iraq in 2005, 2007, and 2009 where he flew the F-16 in combat and combat support missions.



Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum

How about a dogfight? Let’s talk the 1950s snub-nosed MiG-17F Fresco versus the classic late 1940s Douglas A-26 Invader. Go!



Renny Price Hammerhead Aerobatics

Renny Price is a retired airline captain and has logged over 23,000 hours since his first flight in 1969. Renny holds FAA ratings of Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Engineer, Multi-engine instrument flight instructor, Aerobatic competency evaluator, and FAA safety counselor.  Price operates a Russian designed and built Sukhoi Su-29. The Sukhoi is considered to be one of the best unlimited competition aircraft in the world today. Renny and his SU-29 are based just south of Portland, Oregon at the Aurora State Airport. Our media host and new friend, David Shin, got the privilege to fly in the Sukhoi with Renny Price that weekend. He said it was amazing but the Gs they were pulling almost made him lose his lunch but he held it together and now has a story of a lifetime.



OTTO the Helicopter

OTTO the Helicopter is one of the most unique and versatile air show acts in the world. During OTTO’s daytime comedy show he entertains the crowds by blowing bubbles, playing with his yo-yo, racing around barrels and picking them up, shooting smoke in all directions, towing banners, and more all while interacting with the announcer. This one was directed at the kids but it was still impressive and entertaining for all. Damn fun! Oops, can I say that with the G-Rated audience?



Lucas Oil Air Shows with Mike Wiskus

Mike Wiskus’s passion for aviation started when he was very young. On his 17th birthday, he received his pilot’s license and in 32 years, Mike has accumulated more than 24,000 flight hours and has been qualified in more than 40 aircrafts. His excitement for aviation and willingness to share his aviation experience with people around the country is nothing short of contagious. This was one of the performance highlights of that day; that popping orange plane hurtling itself through the blue sky was a vision to behold in person.



U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III Flyby


The U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II Demo Team

Representing, arguably, the greatest breakthroughs in aircraft technology, the Harrier was the first VSTOL capable (vertical/short takeoff and landing) jet in the Marine inventory, giving MAGTF commanders new flexibility on the battlefield. This jet has the ability to attack anywhere and it forces the enemy to defend everywhere. The AV-8B Harrier II is always a crowd favorite. It is surely one of mine. The look, the shape, the form, the function, the technology, the blistering sound. What’s not to love?



Alaska Airlines Oregon State University Q400 Flyby

Flown by experienced airline pilot and Hillsboro native Mark Hoaglin.



Gary Rower Air Shows

Gary Rower started performing at air shows and entertaining audiences with his 1942 PT-17 Stearman in 2002. The show highlights Gary’s skills as a professional aerobatic pilot, and the way he
performs in the Stearman as some spectators describe, “is like ballet in the air.” The Stearman is large and loud, yet beautiful and graceful at the same time. Gary’s performance in this beautiful bird is filled with giant barnstormer loops, hammerhead turns, slow rolls, a Cuban eight, inverted flight, snap roll, and the Outside Humpty Bump.



Eddie Andreini Airshows

Eddie Andreini flying his P-51D Mustang from Half Moon Bay, California. Eddie Andreini started flying in an L-2 Taylorcraft while still in high school at the age of 16. Today, he is a commercial instrument rated pilot and possesses an FAA aerobatic Ground-Level Waiver. Eddie has accumulated over 6000 hours flight time in a variety of diversified aircraft, including P-51’s, Yak-55‘s, Pitts Specials and the Russian An-2.



Pemberton Aerosports

Melissa and Rex Pemberton‘s air show routine is a high energy and action packed display of Unlimited Aerobatics in the Edge540 Aircraft which weighs only about 1,100 lbs. The show combines Melissa’s aerobatics, the gyroscopic maneuvers, the extremely complex and technical maneuvers learned through competition, along with her husband’s own death-defying wingsuit flight, in one cohesive and astonishing spectacle. Melissa believes that mastering the skills of both competition and air shows will make her the most skilled and safe pilot that she can be. It is a beautiful and amazing display by the brave and highly skilled couple.



U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

The crown jewel of this year’s the airshow, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. The Air Force pilots fly their F-16 in precise formations that reflects their skill and maneuverability. The “Ambassadors In Blue” are perfectly suited for their mission, which is to faithfully represent their fellow Airmen. With all due respect to the Blue Angels, I do not think anybody beats the Thunderbirds; they are an incomparable favorite.




Announcer and National Anthem singer

Wayne Boggs, air boss and brother of HOFer Wade Boggs. As Steve Callaway, said to me, “His brother can bat .300 and have a good day. Wayne always has to bat 1.000.”

The crowd under the warm sun.

Presenting the colors.

Color Guard marches.


2012 Oregon International Air Show Thread

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