By Christopher Roberson
BEVERLY – In 2004, Richard Little of Beverly Regional Airport founded the nonprofit organization Flight4CF after learning that his daughter, Piper, was afflicted with cystic fibrosis – he also began hosting an airshow.
According to the American Lung Association, cystic fibrosis is an “inherited disease that causes thickened mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.”
“We wanted to find a way to raise money instead of just asking for money,” said Little.
Although the event had a modest start, simply offering plane rides to residents, Little said, it has evolved into something much more during the past 14 years. He said this year’s event will be the airport’s “first full-blown airshow” complete with skydivers, rides on the Douglas DC-3 and Waco biplanes, aircraft on display and remote-controlled jets travelling at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour.
The military will have a Lockheed C-130 on display and a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker flying overhead. “We have full military participation this year,” said Little.
In addition, aerial performers Daniel Marcotte, Trevor Rafferty, Jacqueline Warda and Kevin Russo will be on hand to entertain the crowd from above.
Marcotte will be flying his Ultimate 10-200 biplane and executing aerobatic maneuvers at 250 miles per hour. His plane sports a roll rate of 400 degrees per second.
Rafferty will be flying his 11-year-old Javelin, a “one of a kind unlimited aerobatic airplane” driven by a 360-cubic-inch Lycoming engine. According to Flight4CF.com, Rafferty was known to stay overnight at the airport while his plane was being built.
Warda will be flying her Pitts Special biplane. After receiving her Private Pilot certificate in 1987, Warda became the first 50-year-old female pilot to become an aerial performer.
Russo was 15 when he began learning how to fly. He received his pilot’s license two years later and has since logged more than 23,000 hours in the air.
Back on the ground, there will be a touch-a-truck display and live entertainment from the Darren Bessette Band.
This year’s airshow will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 8-9. Little said he is expecting “8,000 to 10,000” spectators each day and is looking to raise “$50,000 to $60,000” to continue funding research for cystic fibrosis.