Flying for fallen friend

MEGAN GILLIS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:43 PM ET

It was a sky-high tribute to a fallen flyer at Air Show Ottawa yesterday.

The pilots of two World War II-era Harvard aircraft honoured Scott Manning's widow, Nancy, by drawing a heart with their planes' exhaust in the sky over the Carp Airport.

The Snowbirds performed their "missing man" formation. The nine jets flew toward the crowd, then one broke from the pack, climbing high into the heavens.

The Canadian Forces' demonstration team told the crowd the flight was in honour of Manning -- a friend.

Others dedicated flights to Manning's widow, who watched her husband crash to his death in the world's smallest jet Friday.

KEPT LOW-KEY

"Some pilots have dedicated flights to his wife, Nancy," said show spokeswoman Whitney Zelmer.

"They announce it on the loudspeaker: This flight is going out to Nancy Manning."

Other than a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies, organizers kept the tribute low-key.

There's still little detail about what caused the crash, Zelmer said.

"We don't know much about it," she said. "It's an air show -- people are here to have a good time."

The show continues today.

Thousands of spectators braved inching traffic and ankle-deep mud to take in aerobatic marvels, flights by vintage aircraft and brushes with airborne celebrity, including the prime minister's Challenger jet.

Hundreds more sat in lawn chairs lining nearby roadways.

A CF-18 fighter jet flew by with an ear-splitting blast.

Californian Julie Clark got a standing ovation for her aerobatic routine performed in her 1950s Mopar T-34. Trailed by a plume of bright red exhaust, she pulled off barrel rolls, hammerhead turns and buzzed the tarmac -- a move only the most experienced flyers are allowed to do.

WON'T GROUND SHOW

Manning's friend, Kerry Newstead, of industry magazine World Airshow News, said the tight-knit aviation community is reeling from the popular pilot's death, but that it didn't ground the show.

"Scott would want this show to go on," he said. "He was a professional. Flying was his life."

Mom Michele Pomerant was grateful to the volunteer who handed her earplugs for toddler Ashleigh -- whose little body trembled with fright as jets roared overhead.

But she worried about shielding her two children from a horrific sight after Friday's accident.

"It did make me think twice," she said. "I feel we're safe as spectators, but if something went wrong, how would I explain that to my kids?"

megan.gillis@ott.sunpub.com


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