PHUKET: Thousands from across Greater Phuket – locals and expats alike – will come out to celebrate the USA’s 237th birthday with the grandest of family picnics and an airshow scheduled for July 6-7 at Phuket’s expansive Airpark in Pa Klok, just 6km east of the Heorine’s Monument.
With this year also marking 180 years of official Thai-American diplomatic relations, many exciting activities are on the cards, with a little bit of something for everyone in the family.
In addition to an unprecedented Chili Cook-off and family picnic complete with Thai food, American food, airplane rides, hot air balloon rides, sky diving, and a truly shocking aerobatics show by world famous stunt pilot Les Vorosmarthy, there will be live music and American beer – all in a carnival-like atmosphere with many games and other activities for the kids, including kayaking on the Airpark’s lakes and canals.
Pat James, President of the Navy League Phuket (NLP), shared some of the highlights to look forward to.
Corey Parker, an American skydiving instructor, is a very dynamic individual. As an experienced skydiving and scuba diving instructor, Corey is set to lead a number of tandem jumps with novices, weather permitting. A tandem jump refers to when a student skydiver is connected to a harness attached to an instructor. Pat says that such a jump is even ideal for people who have never been in an airplane, much less jumped out of one.
“Corey will facilitate a safe process to teach and allow people to experience the exhilaration of free fall and flight. If the weather does not allow Corey enough altitude to safely do tandem jumps, then he’ll still do solo jumps.”
Corey looks to do about 4-5 jumps per day from either a Cesna 172 or from a Piper Lance aircraft. The jumps will take place from noon onwards on both days, in between aerobatics shows as well as several other airplane and helicopter demo flights.
In between skydiving jumps and aerobatic shows, guests can opt to to embark on a safe and scenic ride over Phuket in a Cesna 172 and/or Piper Lance airplane, as well as a Robinson 44 helicopter.
“Once you get up in the air and see Phuket from above, I guarantee that you will see things that you never knew existed – even if you’ve lived here all your life.”
Pat stresses that admission to see all the shows and demonstrations is FREE for everyone, while tickets to go on the plane and helicopter rides can be purchased for less than half of what is charged on a normal day at Phuket Airpark.
Due to low air speeds and inherent stability, paramotor flight has the potential to be one of the safest forms of aviation, though certainly not the dullest!
Mark Silverberg, whose Paramotor training school is based out of Hua Hin, will be down in Phuket on July 6-7 to give paramotor rides and demonstrations.
“These demos and flights will be ongoing all day on both days, as they don’t interfere with our other activities, and don’t even need the runway,” explained Pat, adding that weather will also be a factor, although not as sensitive to wind and rain as much as hot air baloons, for example.
Famous stuntman, Les Vorosmarthy, a Kuala Lumpur resident from Hungary, has successfully executed many jaw-dropping aerobatics maneuvers over the skies of Patong and Surin beaches, as well as a few over the Airpark.
Come July 6-7, he’s set to execute death-defying yet safe aerobatic shows in his beautiful red Extra 300 aircraft.
“The fact that he’ll have a runway to work with will allow him to get much closer to the ground,” explained Pat, noting that Les is one of a few individuals in Southeast Asia who are certified to do aerobatics below the 300 and 500 foot levels.
The shows are scheduled for 2pm and 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday (four shows total), each of which will last about 30 minutes. Before and after the shows, Les will be available for photo opportunities. Also, 10 lucky guests will be selected to go on a plane ride with Les. Pat assures that the rides will be safe.
“They’ll have parachutes, and go up and see what it’s like to be upside down.”
Hot air balloon rides
From 10am onwards, Hans Lauten will be directing “static line” hot air balloon rides, allowing participants to go up in a hot air balloon to altitudes as high as 100 feet, where they can safely enjoy views and take pictures of Phuket down below.
“The static line ensures that a breeze won’t blow the balloon out to sea, considering the ocean is only a few hundred feet away from the Airpark,” Pat explains, adding that hot air balloons are very sensitive to the weather.
“The calm weather is the most ideal time, so those hoping to go up in a hot air balloon have the best opportunity in the mornings and evenings.”
All day long on both July 6 and 7, the Radio Control (RC) Aircraft Club of Phuket will be competing for airspace, set to give inspiring shows and demonstrations of the latest and greatest that model-sized, yet fully functional, aircraft have to offer.
“They have some great pilots operating many types of RC aircraft, including helicopters, fixed-wing type and motorized, electric jet type aircraft,” says Pat, who adds that the best of these Phuket RC craft will be put through a test course and judged accordingly.
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