Russian, Chinese planes invade city

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

The Times-Journal

Russian and Chinese fighter planes descended on Selma this weekend, setting up a temporary base to practice formation flying in the skies of the Queen City.

All the planes, either Yak-52s or Nan-Chengs, were World War II era craft prized by their owners, members of the Redstar Pilot’s Association.

They were in town to continue their certification to fly in formation, according to Navy pilot and club member, Lt. Commander Phil Webb.

The Redstar Fall Fling was held this year in Selma. Webb said it was one of two training events held by the club, which also meets for the &8220;big event&8221; in Georgia, usually held early in the year.

Even so, the event still drew 26 planes into town from as far south as Foley and as far north as Virginia.

Each year, the club takes part in training maneuvers, sharing knowledge among members and generally having a good time flying. The Russian and Chinese designed planes are prized among members for their versatility and agility, according to members.

The club participates in formation flyovers during events throughout the year, including annual Independence Day celebrations all over the country.

Brought here by Scott Patterson of the People’s Bank and Trust, the club set up shop at his hangar at Craig Field.

Webb said the members were composed of all types of pilots, including current professional military and private pilots, retired pilots and &8220;amateur&8221; pilots.

The pilots started flying in early on Friday, with others flying in on Saturday.

Webb said most of the pilots would be gone by Sunday morning.