Pilot says night act looks like flying Christmas tree
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent
Elgin Wells' Starjammer, full of thousands of LED lights, is scheduled to make its first appearance at Gary's South Shore Air Show July 6-8, 2012. | Photo by Jim Koepnick
Elgin Wells said he has done a lot of over-the-water air shows and he loves them, so he’s looking forward to performing during the Gary South Shore Air Show for the first time.
“The view for the crowd is very different,” he said. “The water lends a serenity that is quite the contrast from the aerobatic machines.”
Wells will be flying in on the Starjammer, a single-seat model plane that’s one of a kind. It has a 220-horsepower engine, more than 250 super-bright LED lights, and five smoke screens.
Wells, who also is a jazz musician based in Atlanta, Ga., has been flying in air shows since 1991, but only recently started flying the Starjammer.
“The Jammer is such a brand new airplane. This is only my second season with her,” he said.
Crowds can expect a different view of the plane if they attend the July 6 Twilight Show than if they attend the Air Show on July 7 or 8.
His maneuvers at night will be less ambitious, but aglow with the LED lights. The day shows will bring more aerobatics, as well as smoke.
“The day shows will tend to be lower and more ambitious in terms of maneuvers,” he said, adding the night show will be “more lyrical.”
“At night, it looks like a Christmas tree flying in the dark.”
Flying over the water is more challenging for pilots, he said, because visual references for gauging depth are more distinct over land. The perspective for the audience viewing an air show over the water is “very cool,” he added.
“There’s a certain element of inferred danger from the audience’s perspective,” he said. “From my perspective, it should be the illusion of danger.”