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Tualatin pilot tumbles into the Oregon International Airshow

This weekend's airshow will also feature the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
by: Submitted photo, Pilot Renny Price of Tualatin checks the view out the left side of his Sukhoi SU-29, a Russian-built, single-engine propeller plane. This will be his ninth year at the Oregon International Airshow.

TUALATIN - Most people who've seen an airshow have seen the stunts. They've seen the planes do the rolls, the loops and the big wide-open maneuvers.

But usually the crowds stop and stare, if just for a moment, when pilot Renny Price literally comes tumbling through the air nose over tail.

'For some reason, a crowd is always flabbergasted when they see a plane going end over end,' Price said. But he laughs when asked if the tumble is his favorite stunt.

'I like them all, or otherwise I wouldn't be doing this.'

Price, a Tualatin resident, will be just one of several pilots participating in this year's Oregon International Airshow at the Hillsboro Airport Saturday and Sunday. This is Price's ninth year to fly in the show.

'This airplane can be flown like beauty and the beast,' he noted referring to his Sukhoi SU-29, a single-engine propeller plane built in Moscow and designed strictly for aerobatics.

Price's spinning, diving and tumbling aerobatic routine will be joined by plenty of other plane and jet stunts, including an act from the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum in Hillsboro. Price's routine will last about 10 to 12 minutes.

Most pilots spend their entire careers trying to avoid the situations that Price purposely brings upon himself. But for Price, the stunts are a reminder that unlike automobiles, planes can be flown in three axis, and learning to control a plane in more than one direction is crucial.

The 56-year-old airline pilot flies in about 10 airshows a summer. He has accumulated 22,000 hours of flight time since he began flying in 1969.

And since 1995, Price has been the owner and operator of Hammerhead Aerobatics Inc., which operates out of Oregon's Aurora State Airport. His business specializes in training pilots on how to handle an aircraft in the event of a spin or a roll.

But Price admits his business also tries to spur interest among pilots in three-axis flight.

Price says he's never really nervous about failing in a stunt. He describes getting into 'the zone' before airshows. He listens to his iPod, Aerosmith blaring.

'There's really no apprehension about whether I'm going to bust my ass. Once I get the smoke going, I push the throttle, and it's an adrenaline rush. I think it's like being on stage with a rock band.'

Now its 19th year, the Oregon International Airshow draws an average of 65,000 people to Hillsboro each summer. The show has raised more than $834,000 for community charities and projects.

This year's two-day event will also feature the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team. The Homeland Fireworks Extravaganza and Pyro Show is set for Saturday night.