With the fireworks, Addison’s annual Kaboom Town show lasts nearly three hours. For thousands of spectators, turning their eyes skyward to follow the thrilling day and evening air shows and ooh and ahh at the fireworks display that follows is the perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of America’s independence.
What most don’t realize is that the Addison Airport staff starts putting Kaboom Town together the previous November by booking the aerobatic acts. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Given the airport’s location under the DFW Class B airspace, Addison has a compact aerobatic box, and only a handful of performers fly aircraft that can safely perform on this limited aerial stage.
A half-dozen performers take to the aerial stage along with flying history from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. Randy Henderson will fly his Texas T-Cart and Dallas-based Jan Collmer will wind up his Extra 300L, as will Mike Galloway in his Extra 300. Gene Soucy and his Grumman Showcat biplane will perform day and night, as will Kaboom Town favorite Dan Buchanan in his motorized hang glider.
The FAA is involved in the preparations at several levels, literally. Addison’s aerial stage tops out at 2,000 feet, and the Red River Skydivers need a bit more altitude. That work begins in December when the Control Tower, responsible for Addison’s airspace, starts meeting with the DFW Tracon, the terminal radar approach control facility that is responsible for the airspace above it, to work out the details.
With the start of the new year, the airport staff applies for the FAA waiver that approves all of the Kaboom Town aerial activities. It is not a simple or quick process. To ensure safety, the application must include the performers and their aircraft and air boss, who directs every aspect of the show from who’s on stage to staging, recovery, and refueling areas.
George Cline is air boss again in 2014, and his work also begins months before Kaboom takes the stage. He meets with police and fire departments to establish who is where doing what to ensure public safety throughout the event, including the spectators’ drive home. He also holds briefings with everyone involved, including the performers, just before each of them starts their assigned tasks.
Larry Strang is returning as Kaboom Town’s announcer, and this year Air Show Audio will expand the reach of his voice with a network of wireless speaker towers. It will also be broadcast on an FM radio station. Filling the spare time between the meetings dedicated to these topics are related efforts such as publicizing the show and the work needed to prepare the stage for its day job as North Texas’ leading reliever airport.