HOUSTON (CW39) It’s almost time for some high-flying action, as the upcoming Wings Over Houston Airshow, is scheduled to take place at Ellington Airport on October 29-30, 2022. If you attend you will have the opportunity to meet notable guests from aviation and aerospace in the Legends & Heroes Autograph Tent prior to the headlining performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. These flying aces, decorated war-heroes, veterans and living legends of flight will be present to sign autographs and share their stories.
“The Legends & Heroes Tent reflects the heart of the airshow as we exist to honor them and bring history to life,” said Bill Roach, Executive Director of Wings Over Houston. “The sacrifices these individuals have made for our freedom have significantly contributed to the advancement of flight, not only in the sky, but also in space. It is a privilege to host them and provide a platform to share their stories and passion for their country.”
Some of the special guests making appearances at the Legends & Heroes Tent will be:
Frank Emond: One of the last remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor, Emond was aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania on December 7, 1941 and witnessed the Japanese attack. As the band played morning colors, he saw the first bomb drop and explode at a hangar on Ford Island. After seven years of playing the horn, Emond became a Navy bandleader. He retired in 1968.
Gene Kranz: Kranz is a well-known NASA figure for his time as Flight Director during the Gemini and Apollo Missions. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he received from President Nixon for the Apollo 13 mission, and his designation as a Distinguished Member of the Senior Executive Service by President Reagan. After retirement, Kranz served as a flight engineer on a B-17 “Flying Fortress”, constructed an aerobatic bi-plane, and in April of 2000, published a memoir about his experiences in the space program, called Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. His book, a New York Times Bestseller, was selected by the History Channel as the basis for a documentary on Mission Control. Kranz currently resides in Houston.
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato: Graciela Tiscareño-Sato is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, School of Environmental Design, where she earned a degree in Environmental Design/Architecture while completing the Aerospace Studies program as an AFROTC (Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program) scholarship cadet. After Berkeley, she joined the active-duty Air Force and completed Undergraduate Navigator Training at Mather Air Force Base (AFB) in Sacramento. During her military career, Graciela lived on or visited four continents and flew for thousands of hours. As an instructor, she taught GPS systems, navigation systems and more in the classroom and in the cockpit. She was one of very few women that served on the NATO Battlestaff in Vicenza, Italy during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
She is the author of the award-winning entrepreneurship book Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them, which highlights Hispanic entrepreneurs innovating in the green economy. Graciela is also the author of an Amazon bestselling bilingual children’s book titled Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, the first bilingual children’s book about why mommies serve in the military. This ground-breaking book was honored at the American Library Association National Convention (2014 International Latino Book Awards) in the category of “Best Educational Children’s Book – Bilingual.” Since then, it’s won awards in competitions among military writers, independent publishers and the prestigious Writers Digest Magazine (1st Place, Children’s Picture Book.) The second award-winning book in the series (Captain Mama’s Surprise) published in summer 2016, was reviewed in School Library Journal and was featured in USA Today.
SSGT George Truman Waters: Waters had just turned 21 years old and had been working at an aircraft repair shop in Alabama when he was drafted into the war. The trouble would follow him to the war where he served as a B-17 gunner. After flying 14 missions in 22 days, he would be shot down on February 22, 1944. His book, “No Thought for Tomorrow,” details his experiences, including when he had to bail from the B-17 as it fell apart and crashed during combat. While he survived the crash with a front-loader parachute that he put on right before the flight, he would ultimately spend 15 months as a prisoner of war in Germany — where he was interrogated and walked over 600 miles across the Nazi-controlled country. Today, Waters — who also nearly died as a child from scarlet fever — believes “ignorance is bliss” and that the secret to living a long life is to “not dig too much, and when you find yourself in a hole — to stop digging.” He sat surrounded by family and friends, including his wife, Mavis, 101, who he married the week before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.”
Lt. Col. James Harvey III: Harvey is a retired United States Army Air Corps/U.S. Air Force (USAF) officer and former African-American fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group’s 99th Fighter Squadron, best known as the Tuskegee Airmen, “Red Tails,” or among enemy German pilots, Schwartze Vogelmenschen (“Black birdmen”). He is one of the 1007 documented Tuskegee Airmen Pilots. Harvey is best known as the first African American USAF jet fighter combat pilot to fight in the Korean War. Harvey and his 332nd Fighter Group Weapons pilot team won the USAF’s inaugural “Top Gun” team competition in 1949. Harvey — along with every member of the Tuskegee Airmen — received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006. Harvey, along with Dr. Harold Brown, George Hardy, and fellow 1949 Top Gun winner Harry Stewart, Jr., are among the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Ralph Coleman Graham: Author of “12 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Ghost Plane at the Battle of the Bulge”, Coleman tells the true, and riveting, story of divine intervention in one of WWII’s most historic battles. Coleman, at the age of eighteen, volunteered fourteen months before the beginning of the attack at Pearl Harbor and the Declaration of War. Coleman’s book conveys the horror and turmoil of the Battle with both striking honesty and commendable stoicism and objectivity. Above all else, however, the book excels as an examination of God’s guiding hand in the affairs of man and an account of one celestial intervention in particular that brought a crew of young Americans safely home from Europe while thousands perished all around them.
Col. Joe Mcphail: McPhail flew with the most successful Marine Fighting Squadron of 1945 was VMF-323, the “Death Rattlers”. In just a few weeks, they shot down 124½ Japanese and counted a dozen Aces. Col. McPhail downed a Zeke and, on April 12, 1945, while on patrol flying a F4U Corsair, shot day Ki-27 Nate. He is also a decorated combat pilot veteran of the Korean War.
Capt. Don Smith: Finishing at the top of his class with the USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training in 1968, Smith was able to choose his first assignment piloting the F-106 at Langley AFB, VA with the 48th Fighter-Interceptor Sq. But first to Perrin AFB, TX for F-102 school then on to Tyndall AFB, FL for F-106s. He served with the 57th FIS at Keflavik, Iceland flying F-102s to protect P-3s from Soviet bombers violating NATO airspace. Back to Tyndall AFB piloting F-101s, he oversaw test projects like the PQM-102(drone). Don then left active duty and joined the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington. After his military service he flew for Delta Airlines, becoming a senior check airman on the Boeing 777.
Sharon Caples McDougle: McDouglejoined the NASA family working in the Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) department. She was the first African American to join the CEE team as a Suit Technician and was responsible for processing the orange launch/entry suit assemblies worn by astronauts. McDougle is regarded as a “modern day hidden figure”. Everyone knows Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go to space – but many don’t know that an African American woman, with her own list of firsts, “suited her up”. McDougle was Jemison’s suit tech for her historic mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Later, McDougle became Crew Chief making her the first woman and first African American CEE Crew Chief. In her new position she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit up astronaut crews. McDougle had the honor of leading the first and only all-woman suit tech crew. During her career she was recognized with the Astronaut “Silver Snoopy” Award, and the coveted Women of Color in Flight Award from Dr. Mae Jemison. McDougle is also an Air Force veteran. She was an Aerospace Physiology Specialist responsible for training, suiting up, and strapping in the SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft pilots. She also worked with the hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers.
Lila Holley: Holleyis a multi-award-winning, bestselling author, Army Veteran, and founder of Camouflaged Sisters. She uses her books and real-life lessons to help other Service Members maneuver through the emotional battlefield of transitioning from the military, take ownership of their stories, and heal using the power of storytelling. The Camouflaged Sisters anthology series consists of 8 published books sharing the inspirational stories of 130 courageous military women. The books cover topics such as leadership, mentorship, sisterhood, career challenges, and combat experiences. They also tackle tough topics like surviving military sexual assault, toxic leadership, PTSD, and surviving domestic violence while serving.
Ashley Booker-Knight: Booker-Knight served in the United States Army for 10 years achieving the highest rank of SSG. She served with great allegiance to the service in locations such as Heidelberg, Germany, Iraq, Hawaii and Fort Hood, Texas. She served as a passionate quartermaster soldier 92Y30. She is a published author of 9 books and a positive life influencer. She walks by faith and is known for executing missions beyond fear.
Michael Lynn Graham: Graham graduated from Athens High School in Athens, Texas in 1965 as a proud and eager Hornet. He attended Henderson County Jr College through 1967. At the height of the Vietnam War he volunteered to serve his country in the U.S. Navy. His boot camp was in Great Lakes, Illinois where he became a seaman apprentice. His first orders were to report aboard the U.S.S. John W Weeks, a Fletcher Class destroyer. His next promotion was to boatswain mate in the first division. His shakedown cruise was to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prior to sailing to Vietnam in 1969. His ships’ duty was to protect the aircraft carriers which were conducting air strikes on the Vietcong. They also stationed on the gun line to fire spot shots ashore for the troops in country. His duty in Vietnam was completed in 9 months upon returning to Norfolk, Virginia. His next deployment was aboard the U.S.S. Gearing destroyer DD710 out of Groton, Connecticut. He sailed to the Mediterranean area to cruise ports in Italy and Spain where he trained reserves until honorably discharged in 1971. After his service he had a career in plant operations and insurance sales while raising his family in Palestine, Texas. Upon retirement he spends his time with family and playing golf with his 99 yr old father, a veteran of WWII.
William “Buzz” Barron: “Buzz” Barron’s book, Crew Chief, be he ne’er so vile, provides more than a glimpse into what it took to maintain, service, launch, and recover the workhorse of the air war up North. His story is more than just what it was like to be a crew chief; it is about growing up, it is about life. He presents his story with great detail in the vernacular of his native language – Texan! His writing is full of earnest passion, humility, and empathy, sprinkled with subtle humor and some out right passages of out loud laughter.
Master Sergeant Wes Fields: Fields is a 24-year service and a combat veteran. He earned 62 decorations and awards while serving in the United States Air Force as an Aerial Gunner on the AC-130H Spectre Gunship assigned to the United States Air Force Special Operations Command. He participated in numerous special operation missions throughout the world.
In addition to the demonstrations by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-16 Viper Demo Team, this year’s event will also include performances by the Houston’s U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, TORA! TORA! TORA!, Debby Rihn-Harvey, RE/MAX Skydive Team, and Extreme Flight With Patrick Mcalee.
To learn more about ticket options, display aircraft, additional event attractions, travel accommodations, sponsorship, or volunteer opportunities, visit www.wingsoverhouston.com.
About CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow
The CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow is an IRC 501(c)(3) community event presented by the volunteer efforts of the Houston Wing, Gulf Coast Wing, and Tora! Tora! Tora! of the Commemorative Air Force, with support from Collings Foundation-Houston based at Ellington Airport and the Vietnam War Flight Museum. One of the top air shows in the United States, this premier Houston event is dedicated to showcasing vintage World War II aircraft, along with the thrills of modern aviation, and has supported a variety of local and national charities during its 37-year history.