ShrinersFest Pilot Has Fun in Washout

Heavy rain brought ShrinersFest airshow practice to a grinding halt Friday morning, and prevented people on Riverside Drive some their first glimpse at the planes, but it did not stop pilots and fans from having fun.

The show must go on for a group of kids at the Evansville Children’s Museum summer camp, getting up close and personal at Tri-State Aero.

“Have you guys ever been in an airplane before?” asks Roger Fritzler inside hangar one. An eager bunch of kids are crowded around. On this gloomy morning, his yellow T-34 Beechcraft airplane does its best to lighten the mood.

Fritzler is in his third season with the Lima Lima flight team based in Naperville, Illinois. “I’m the new guy,” he says, “number four guy in the slot.”

His Beechcraft plane is older than he is, and a little different than the one he flew in the Navy. He never flew in combat, but admits he came close. But the intensity of war isn’t quite like showing future pilots how to do it.

“They still have that twinkle in their eye when it comes to flying,” he smiles, “and they go, ‘well how does that stuff really work?’”

Fritzler walks the group around his plane, showing them how the wings work with the flaps and ailerons. Though, some are more distracted by the camera, Roger carries on.

Rain can wash out an air show, but the smiles on these kids cut through any downpour.


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