Pilots take flight Friday to practice for the Thunder Airshow - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pilots take flight Friday to practice for the Thunder Airshow

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The skies above Kentuckiana were buzzing on Friday as pilots took to the air to preview Saturday's Thunder Over Louisville Airshow.

Next to the fireworks display, the airshow is the big attraction for Thunder Over Louisville.

On Friday, people on the Belvedere got a preview of the Thunder airshow as several airplanes, including an F-18, came roaring into town.

"What we'll demonstrate today is some really close formation that military pilots do on a daily basis," said Jeff Daus, with Redstar Pilots Association.

Redstar is made up of former military pilots, some of America's best.

But this weekend, they're flying the enemy plane.

"We're going to demonstrate some close formation," Daus said. "We actually use Russian airplanes, they're called Russian Yack, and they're unbelievably maneuverable. People do ask why we fly these Russian Yacks, and I guess, listen, we fly 'em because we won the Cold War, and they're cheap."

Meanwhile, before practice or the airshow, all of the pilots got their marching orders from the air boss.

"To go over the rules of the engagement. Here's what you're allowed to do, here's what I expect," said Mike Riorden, who is the Air Boss and airshow director. "A lot of them have never been to the airshow before."

Riorden explained why the pilot briefing and practice are crucial.

"Nothing can replace the actual fact of flying in there, getting a feel for the topography, looking at the obstructions, doing their turns ... it just gives them a comfort level and makes them give a better performance and a safer performance."

And it's a performance Daus is happy to share with the hometown crowd.

"We're based out of Louisville. People probably see us in the skies all of the time, and ... it's an honor to be a part of Thunder."

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