By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The Diamond Point Swift Formation Team will signal the parade’s start with a five-plane formation flyover at 6 p.m. Thursday, making two passes over the parade route, following First Street from east to west, then returning from west to east.
A helicopter flyover was a Coast Guard tradition, but the federal agency announced that it could not do it this year because of federal sequestration budget cuts.
“When we heard the Coast Guard would be unable to do the flyover, we thought we might do it,” said Bill Shepherd, a member of the Diamond Point team.
Public relation events performed by the military, such as the annual Coast Guard parade flyover, many U.S. Navy Blue Angels performances and other events have been canceled due to the budget cuts.
The Diamond Point aeronautic team is a group of active and retired military and professional civilian pilots who have been involved in formation flying since the mid-1990s, Shepherd said.
The planes will be piloted by Shepherd, Gary Eklund, Ernie Hansen, John Johnson and Gerry Mahoney.
All of the planes in the group are Globe Swifts, a two-seat classic aircraft built in military plants in 1946-47, with features and styling heavily influenced by World War II aircraft.
They were produced with the thought that the pilots returning from World War II would want their own planes, he said.
“It didn’t work out that way,” he said.
He noted that of the 2,500 Swifts built, more than 1,000 are still flying.
The Diamond Point Swift Formation Team was named the national champion Globe Swift formation team during the 2012 Swift National Fly-In competition and gathering in St. Louis, Mo.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.