Aviation is a small community. You notice this in particular when misfortune befalls someone.
In July of last year, Alan Henley, the lead pilot of the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, was injured at home when a chin-up bar gave way. He is paralyzed from the chest down.
The idea for a benefit was born as the AeroShell team flew in a three-ship formation at last summer’s AirVenture. The image disturbed many in the air show community, who said it just didn’t seem like AirVenture without Henley. Those aviation enthusiasts decided to rally around Henley to put on an air show to benefit him and his family.
“Bruce Turner (another member of the AeroShell team) came up to me with the idea and it just grew,” says Event Director Bobbi Thompson. “By the time AirVenture was over we had lined up 10 performers.”
The air show is slated for April 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cecil Field (VQQ) in Jacksonville, Fla.
The performer lineup is still being set, but those already committed to be there include Sean Tucker, Patty Wagstaff, Steve and Suzanne Oliver, Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes, John Mohr, Greg Koontz, Gary Ward, Freddy Cabanas, the Iron Eagles, Red Thunder, Jimmy Fordham, Fowler “Big Dog” Cary, Greg Poe, Jim “Fang” Maroney, The Red Eagles, Third Strike Wingwalking, Gary Rower, Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, Lee Lauderback and, of course, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team.
“This is a benefit for the Henley family,” said Thompson. “All the performers are coming down on their own nickel and donating their time. They are asking nothing in return, so all the gate receipts go to Alan and his family. The support we have been getting from the community is awesome,” she continued. “The airport authority is helping us out with all the land-side stuff, even helping us with the marketing and insurance. The golf carts and sound system are being donated.”
The goal is to raise $100,000 for Henley’s long-term recovery.
For more information about Henley’s condition: CaringBridge.org/visit/AlanHenley
For information about the AeroShell Aerobatic Team: NAAT.net.
For information about the air show: CecilField.Aero.