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Fri, Mar 21, 2008

AeroShell Team Lead Alan Henley Named USAF Heritage Flight Pilot

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.

T 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 us."

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.

FMI: www.heritageflight.org, www.naat.net

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