Fifty years after its first flight, variations and progeny of the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt are still flying. And the mechanical beast known as the “Warthog” will return Oct. 15-16 to the 2022 Wings Over North Georgia Air Show (WONG), where it has quickly become a crowd favorite.
WONG 2022 is a homecoming of sorts as the U.S. Air Force ACC A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team includes a pilot and several crew members of the 10-person team who were born and raised near the event site in Rome, GA:
- Maj. Haden “Gator” Fullam of Rising Fawn, GA, is the pilot and team commander
- Staff Sgt. Robby Benson of Lawrenceville, GA, is an EnE (electrical and environmental systems) specialist
- Staff Sgt. Jacob Stephens of Buford, GA, is the team public affairs specialist
- Senior Airman Anwar Allen of Fort Benning, GA, is the crew chief
Fullam is responsible for operational oversight and leadership of the traveling team, including logistics, maintenance, and public relations efforts. He joined the Air Force to honor his grandfathers, who were both fighter pilots during the Vietnam Conflict. Fullam’s brother, Jay, and sister-in-law, Erin, also serve as A-10 pilots in the U.S. Air Force.
The A-10 Demonstration Team is part of the 355th Wing based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, AZ and will perform at more than 20 air shows during the 2022 season.
The First A-10 took off in 1972 from what was then the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in South Carolina. The first production aircraft were later delivered to Davis-Monthan in 1975. And full production by Fairchild Republic Co. began in 1976 at Hagerstown, MD.
The A-10 is best known for the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm gatling gun mounted on the nose and the titanium armor that protects the pilot as well as weapons and flight control systems.
In addition to the 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute, the Thunderbolt II also accommodates an assortment of weapons, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions, wind corrected munitions, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, and illumination flares.
WONG 2022 also will feature additional military and civilian air show acts at the Russell Regional Airport in Rome. A special element is the inaugural AirShow Racing Series (ARS). The ARS offers a unique approach utilizing two racing lanes with inflatable pylons spaced approximately 600 feet apart to define the three-dimensional track for multiple heats of match-racing competition. With a pace plane in the lead, a pair of competing aircraft will approach the 4,000-foot-long course, descending below 75 feet to navigate the slalom layout. At the end of the first run, the aircraft will quickly execute a half-Cuban aerobatic maneuver turning 180 degrees to re-center over the race line for a second slalom pass. The planes will then reverse course one more time for the final sprint to the finish line located at the center of the crowd line. For a full list of performers, activities, and ticket options, airshow fans, exhibitors, vendors, and sponsors can visit the official Wings Over North Georgia air show website.
A variety of ticket options will be offered for the 10th anniversary of WONG. Aviation enthusiasts can purchase advance-only premium patio club, box seating, and general admission tickets for traditional seating options. There also will be vehicle access to a drive-in, tailgate-style parking section with prime air show viewing opportunities. A four-pack of tickets for $79 is a new option for the 2022 show offering great value for the family or group of friends.
Tickets for the Air Show are now available at https://www.wingsovernorthgeorgia.com/guest-information/ticket-options. Tickets must be purchased online and in advance as no tickets will be sold on the day of the air show performances. For additional show information, follow the air show’s Facebook page or visit the Wings Over North Georgia website at https://www.WingsOverNorthGeorgia.com.