One Of Just 11 Civilian Pilots In Program
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team announced Thursday team lead Alan
Henley has been inducted into the USAF Heritage Flight program as a
civilian pilot. The prestigious appointment is bestowed currently
upon only 11 civilian pilots.
Henley is one of two new inductees to have the honor of joining
the program -- the other being Kevin Eldridge of California, best
known by his Reno Air Race flying. They completed their training
missions this past weekend at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and were
awarded their official Heritage patches on Sunday evening after the
mass debrief of all the pilots.
The USAF Heritage Flight program was established in 1997 to
commemorate the Air Force's 50th anniversary. It involves current,
state-of-the-art fighters flying in close formation with World War
II, Korean and Vietnam era fighters such as the P-51 Mustang, and
the F-86 Sabre. The flight mission is to safely and proudly display
the evolution of US Air Force airpower and to support the Air
Force's recruiting and retention efforts.
he Heritage Flight
Conference allows civilian and military pilots to train together in
preparation for the spring and summer air show seasons. Heritage
formations, during which modern and historic fighters fly together,
are a popular highlight event at air shows throughout the United
States and Canada.
Henley will fly a variety of the now-civilian vintage fighter
aircraft in the program at various airshows around the country. The
planes will include the P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, Douglas
SkyRaider, and other World War II era fighters.
"This is an incredible opportunity, and I am honored to be a
part of such an important and historical effort to keep our
nation’s history in front of airshow fans all over the
country," said Henley. "The Heritage Flight Program helps the Air
Force remind people what it took to keep us free, and is a reminder
of the ongoing need to keep our armed forces ready to defend
Henley adds his new responsibilities with the Heritage Flight
program will not affect his duties at the AeroShell Team's airshow
appearances, adding many of the flights will coincide with shows at
which they are scheduled to appear. "It’s quite a workload,"
he says, "but I am very excited and looking forward to it."
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team is a four-ship formation aerobatic
team comprised of vintage North American AT-6 Texans. Veteran
performers Alan Henley, Mark Henley, Steve Gustafson, and Gene
McNeely form the unique squadron of aerial acrobats that has been a
crowd favorite since 1985.