Photo courtesy flashfirejettrucks.com
By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
AirFair time is upon Liberal again and as in the past, there will be several activities and air shows to keep attendants occupied.
Neal Darnell and his team, along with their shockwave jet truck, will be one of the many shows to entrance people throughout the AirFair on Sept. 13 beginning at 10 a.m.. They will start their act in the afternoon, which is when the flying acts will begin.
Darnell said these jet trucks have recently become very popular at air shows.
“There are very few of these in the nation and it’s rare to see them,” Darnell said.
The jet truck Darnell’s team will be using at Liberal’s show is unique, Darnell said, because it has three engines from World War 2 jets, which equals roughly 3,600 horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 mph in one second and can reach 6 G’s of power.
“Theoretically if you set this truck on its back end, it would accelerate faster than a space shuttle,” he said.
Darnell began his love of motor sports at a young age after competing in drag racing and similar races. It was around the time he turned 50, however, when he set his sights on using jet trucks as part of his act. The speed is what held such an appeal to him, and he eventually got his son Chris involved in the act when he was 5.
“It started as mostly a hobby of mine but then it really turned into a family business and it’s been great,” Darnell said. “It’s amazing, the crowds really love the jet trucks.”
In 2005, Darnell was able to set an airshow speed record of 375 mph at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. The record still stands today and is in the renowned Guiness Book of World Records. This year’s AirFair will also be the first time Darnell and his team will set foot in Liberal and the team is excited.
“We normally perform at much larger air shows and for us, it’s unusual to see such a big act in a small venue like in Liberal,” he said. “I think everything will be great, we checked out the airport online and everything looked awesome to us.”
Darnell added given how big the air show is, people should come see it and appreciate the work the AirFair board has done.
“It really is one of those ‘if you build it, they will come’ situations,” Darnell said. “It’s not often a smaller community gets to see such big names and acts so people should come see and appreciate what everything’s about.”