SWLA tradition will salute local aviation heritage, women in flight

Lake Charles, Louisiana — High-flying thrills, fiery runway action and up-close views of American military might are all part of the 2019 Kia of Lake Charles CHENNAULT INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW, presented by Phillips 66.

The popular biennial event takes place May 10-12 at Chennault International Airport.

A wide range of other entertainment rounds out the Airshow. Here’s the rundown, as announced by Airshow Director Mary Jo Bayles and Airshow President Kevin Melton:

Headline acts

  • F-16 Viper. The Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team performs precision aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the unique capabilities of one of the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighters, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The team also conducts an Air Force Heritage flight with a vintage P-51 fighter plane.
  • Phillips 66 Aerostars. Flying at speeds of over 250 miles per hour just a few feet from one another, the four-plane team does barrel rolls, formation loops and opposing maneuvers.
  • Red Bull aerobatic helicopter. It’s retrofitted to be able to roll and fly upside down.
  • Kirby Chambliss, Red Bull aerobatic pilot. Chambliss is a five-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion and two-time Red Bull Air Race World Champion.
  • Kevin Coleman. At 28, the Louisiana native is one of the world’s youngest airshow stars in his signature Extra 300SHP.

Women in aviation

The Airshow will be saluting females in flight, as the festivities coincide with Mother’s Day weekend. There will be performances by:

  • Jacquie B. Nationally acclaimed Jacquie Warda—who flies as “Jacquie B”—will be the first female stunt pilot of her kind to perform at the Chennault International Airshow. She executes aerobatic feats in a custom Extra 300 monoplane.
  • Wing walker Ashley Shelton. She’ll be out on the wing to thrill the crowd on Mother’s Day weekend.
  • Ladies for Liberty. The nostalgic singing trio performs ’40s hits in the style of the Andrews Sisters and offers a medley of patriotic songs.

Military might

  • B-17 Flying Fortress. The historic “Texas Raiders,” one of less than a dozen B-17 (“Flying Fortress”) airplanes still flying, will rumble proudly in the Chennault skies in a real-life tribute to our nation’s military heritage.
  • “American Dream” P-40 Warhawk. It’s one of only five TP-40s known to exist. It’s dual-controlled, with a dual cockpit. It’s used for training fighters — and it tours with an aerobatic airshow act.
  • An authentic Soviet-built MiG-17F. Pilot Randy Ball pulls 8-G turns, and reaches speeds approaching 700 mph — sometimes flying less than 100 feet off the ground — in what was the primary enemy aircraft in the skies over Vietnam.

Also up in the sky

  • Wild Blue Rodeo. “Wild Blue” is an RV-8A that wants to be a fighter jet during the day and a police car at night. One of the pilots is Louisiana’s own Josh Boudreaux.
  • Red Bull jump team. Four daredevil aerial acrobats jump and soar toward Chennault, wowing the crowd and sticking the landing.
  • Matt Younkin’s Beech 18. A huge transport plane is not designed for aerobatic flight. Nevertheless, Younkin begins with a roll on takeoff, followed by “Cuban eights,” point rolls, and even a loop — before he tilts the huge plane’s wings more than 90 degrees.
  • Right on the runway
  • Aftershock Jet Fire Truck. It’s a 1940 Ford fire engine with 24,000 horsepower that has hit 407 mph on the runway.
  • BMX star Terry Adams. A Hammond native, Adams is a professional BMX star with a national following. His signature move, the “Katrina,” was developed and mastered during the outage that followed the hurricane.
  • Precision Exotics. Taking the wheel of this collection of dream cars are drivers with a combined 50 years of military and aviation experience. Their performance this time remains an Airshow secret, but they’ve been known to speed side by side, race an overhead aircraft, and even transfer passengers car-to-car as they roar down the runway.
  • Alabama Boys Flying Circus. In this comedic flying circus, hillbillies seeking a flying lesson in a podunk airport take a wacky adventure in a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub.

For younger people

  • The SASOL Stem Tent will showcase exhibits tied to science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) areas, with McNeese and SOWELA taking part.
  • A Kids’ Zone will offer an area of fun and recreation.
  • People of all ages can visit the Dream Big exhibit and the Dash Aero cockpit simulator trailer.


Here’s a partial list of the aviation and military exhibits:

  • An immense C-5 aircraft as well as a KC-135R.
    Four T-38 jets, a massive B-52 bomber, a pair of F-15s and a Naval Reserve F/A-18 .
  • SOWELA’s Boeing 727 and a renovated Boeing 737.
  • T-6 Texan II and a pair of A-10 Thunderbolts.
  • A P-40, a C-17, a Bell H-13 Sioux Warrior, a 1955 T-34A and a Cessna 182.
  • Lake Area Radio Kontrol (LARK) models, a U.S. Coast Guard 26-foot rescue boat, motorized parasail, 1955 Jeep and a Louisiana Air National Guard Humvee.

Ticket information

The Airshow opens May 10 with a Friday evening show, with gates opening at 5 p.m. and opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. The shows on May 11 and May 12 (Mother’s Day) will have gates opening at 9 a.m. and the welcoming ceremonies beginning at 11:30 a.m.

General admission tickets are $20 in advance at chennaultairshow.com and $24 at the gate. Premium seating is also available.

Also, food, beverages and souvenirs will be sold. Parking is free.

Proceeds from the nonprofit Airshow benefit STEM education outreach, such as educational grants to teachers, scholarships, Airshow field trips and visits to classrooms.

For more information, visit chennaultairshow.com or the Chennault International Airshow page on Facebook.