Walnut Hill Man Was The Boss Of The Pensacola Beach Air Show. Here’s A Behind The Scenes Look.

July 14, 2024

A Walnut Hill man was the boss of it all at the Pensacola Beach Air Show.

The air boss.

The air boss controls the schedule for all the aerial acts, mass formations, high-speed jet demonstrations and pyrotechnics at every show.

Air Boss Paul Entrekin has the primary responsibility for coordinating all air show operations within the demonstration area and plays a critical role in ensuring a safe, efficient, and entertaining air show every year. All of this while also meeting the latest standard air show regulations.

And he’s been doing it for 31 years.

“I’m sort of the ringmaster of the circus or the orchestra leader if you will. I’m the one that holds the baton while everyone else makes beautiful music,” Entrekin said from his home in Walnut Hill. “I’m the guy that’s responsible for the safety of flight of all the performers, making sure they’re safe in the air and that all our spectators are safe on the ground.”

“If everything goes smoothly and according to plan it’s very simple. But when we have unexpected issues, such as intruders in the air space, or any number of mechanical or physiological issues with the pilots, then things get ramped up a little bit and that’s where I have to earn my bacon as it were.”

“It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been doing it for such a long time now, it’s second nature, and I work with a really, really good cadre of individuals,” he said. “The civilian performers at the Santa Rosa Island Authority hires are top-notch folks, and of course, the Blues. Nobody does it better than they do.”

For the Pensacola Beach Air Show, he has a bird’s eye view of the beach right at the center of the show on a scissor lift about 30 feet in the air with a multitude of communications devices that allow him to talk to beach rescue responders, the Coast Guard or talk to the planes that are flying — except for the Blue Angels.

He said with both the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds, they operate on their own discrete UHF frequency.

“No one, and I mean no one including the air boss is allowed. We can monitor that frequency, but we’re not allowed to, to talk or say a single word on that frequency. If, if for example, I saw something that needed to be communicated to the boss, Number 8 (the events coordinator) and I are in very close proximity and I would tell Number 8 that we have a situation where I need for them to terminate maneuver. He would then relay that to the maintenance officer or Mo. And Mo is the only one that has direct calm with the boss. And he would say, hey boss, we’ve got this situation needs to be to terminate after this maneuver is safe and complete.”

“The exception to that is if I call a ‘knock it off’. A knock it off is a safety of flight issue that means stop what you are doing this very second. I would pass my knock it off to Number 8 who would pass it to the Mo,” he said. “They would stop what they’re doing, and they would orbit and then we talk it about it later.”

Even after three decades, there’s one special moment in the Blue Angels’ performance that is still his favorite.

“When they cross at center point where timing and altitude are absolutely critical. And they are their own worst critics. They scrutinize down to the nth degree, and there is no such thing as a perfect show. They are always striving to do it just a little bit better. When from my vantage point, when I see what’s an almost perfect hit, meaning that the solos have arrived at center point at exactly the same time at the perfect altitude.”

“When it looks like just a tremendously close call usually that makes me grin. I like that part of the show best, he said.

Interest in the Blue Angels is up this year following “The Blue Angels” movie on Amazon Prime. And Entrekin says it’s actually a great movie that accurately represents our hometown Blue Angels.

“”I thought it was great. (Producer) Greg Wooldridge was one of my favorite bosses of the teams back in the day and he was an executive producer for that, and I think he did a fantastic job,” he said about the movie. “His fingerprints were all over the thing, and you could really tell that an insider had steered the production of that film. And so, I thought it was very well done.”

A 1976 graduate of Auburn University, Entrekin was commissioned as a U.S. Marine Corps officer in 1977 and designated a Naval Aviator in 1980. During his military career he became carrier qualified, flying both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. He was an instructor pilot until leaving active duty in 1986 and then retained reserve status with the Defense Intelligence Agency as a clandestine operative until retiring after Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991.

No stranger to the air show world nor pushing boundaries, Entrekin soon was nicknamed “The Bandit,” after becoming the first civilian pilot to own and fly a Russian MiG aircraft. He founded Entrekin Aviation as a full-time air show pilot in 1986. He holds multiple U.S. and world airspeed records and is recognized on the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor.

Entrekin also flew for Delta Air Lines for 30 years before his retirement, and over the years has authored a number of books including, “Mighty Hands,” his bestseller “Mr. MiG,” and his most recent children’s book entitled, “Jasper and the Christmas Faeries” set at his Walnut Hill ranch.

Pictured top: Pensacola Beach Air Show Air Boss Paul Entrekin. Pictured below: Paul Entrekin and his wife Lisa discuss their book “Jasper and the Christmas Faeries” with NorthEscambia.com just before a recent Christmas holiday. NorthEscambia.com and submitted photo, click to enlarge.

Photos: Blue Angels Wow Crowds At Saturday Air Show

July 14, 2024

The Pensacola Beach Air Show was delayed by weather for about an hour Saturday afternoon.

The Blue Angels took the skies over the beach about an hour late due to threat of rain and lightning.

For a photo gallery, click or tap here.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Perry Doggrell and Nikki Purvis, click to enlarge.

Blue Angels Hold Friday Dress Rehearsal (With Saturday Air Show Schedule)

July 13, 2024

Crowds attended Friday’s dress rehearsal at Pensacola Beach.

For a photo gallery from Friday, click here.

The official Pensacola Beach Air Show is Saturday. Here is the schedule:

Prior to the official waivered air space closure signaling the start of the air show on Friday and Saturday, expect to see the following aircraft overhead, announced by radio personality Rob Williams:

  • Pilot Julian MacQueen flying his vintage 1943 Grumman Widgeon seaplane overhead.
  • Pilot Sheldon Heatherington will be flying his Zenith 75 STOL aircraft named Redbird.
  • Navy pilot Tanner Matheny will be flying over in his 1946 North American Navion airplane named Olivia.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstration from the back of a HH-60J Blackhawk helicopter.
  • Local wing of the Commemorative Air Force flying WWII and Korean War-era trainer and liaison aircraft.
  • Then, at 11:45 a.m., spectators will be cleared from the Gulf waters and the official air space waiver begins.

The show begins precisely at noon with presentation of the colors by the Red Bull Team parachutists jumping from Aaron Fitzgerald’s helicopter over show center, followed by a brief teaser of what’s to come from the Red Bull Air Force team and Kevin Coleman later in the show. The Red Bull Air Force team is assembled from the most accomplished aviation experts on the planet who continually push the limits of human flight.

The Veterans Flight team takes the stage at 12:13 p.m. in their bright yellow, vintage World War II-era biplanes and possibly other WWII vintage aircraft. Organized by Pensacola attorney and pilot Roy Kinsey, around a dozen Stearman pilots from all over the Southeast are flying in the show to pay tribute to all WWII and Korean War vets.

Next up at 12:28 p.m. is a newcomer to the air show, the incredible wingwalker Carol Pilon and the Third Strike Wingwalking team. Pilon is the first, and only, woman to walk on a jet-propelled aircraft. Expect to see Pilon traveling atop a bright red, vintage Stearman biplane with lots of billowing smoke.

At 12:39 p.m., keep your eyes peeled as Redline Aerobatic Team pilots Ken Rieder, Adam Baker, and making his inaugural debut at this air show, Austin Rieder, Ken’s son, perform some exceptional formation aerobatics.

Then, at 12:54 p.m., hang onto your hat as pilot Skip Stewart wows the crowds next with his high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers from his famous red, white and black-checkered bi-plane, Prometheus. Don’t miss his signature inverted ribbon-cutting pass over the Pensacola Beach Pier.

Next up, at 1:06 p.m., Patty Wagstaff, the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic champion and a six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, will wow the crowds over Pensacola Beach in her Extra 330 aircraft. Her breathtaking performances give airshow spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of hard-core aerobatics.

The Red Bull Air Force Team with Kevin Coleman and Aaron Fitgerald are back with a full act at 1:21 p.m., creating a visual spectacle like no other. The trio will perform a joint aerial demonstration that will last 25 minutes.

As always, closing out the show at 2 p.m. will be your U.S. Navy Flight Demonstrations Squadron, the Blue Angels. Look to the Gulf horizon as the famous C-130J aircraft, affectionately known as Fat Albert, followed by six signature blue and gold F-18 Super Hornets, make their way over Pensacola Beach.

For the next 45 minutes, spectators will get a glimpse of the Blues’ aeronautic maneuvers like the Diamond Dirty Loop, the Double Farvel, the Vertical Pitch, the Fleur-de-Lis, the Opposing Knife-Edge pass, and the crowd-favorite Sneak Pass. These are just a few of the mind-blowing displays of choreographed precision flying the Navy’s flight demonstration team has perfected over the past 78 years.

Pilot and Announcer Rob Reider will be the voice of the Pensacola Beach Air Show this year and Paul Entrekin, a retired Marine Corps aviator and former full-time air show pilot performer, will mark his 31st year as the Air Boss over the show.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Perry Doggrell, click to enlarge.

Tate High Assistant Principal Austin Courson Soars With The Blue Angels (With Gallery)

July 12, 2024

Tate High School Assistant Principal Austin Courson had the once in a lifetime opportunity Thursday to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Courson was chosen following a selection process as a “key influence rider” while he was an agricultural teacher for his involvement in the Tate FFA program. He was recently promoted to his new position as assistant principal at Tate.

He is looking forward to taking the experience back to share with Tate students this fall.

For a photo gallery, click here.

As for the questions every always asks of someone that flies with the Blue Angels:

Yes, he passed out. 7.5 G’s will do that.

And no, he did not get sick. (His secret breakfast before the flight: Bananas and peanut butter just in case because “the assistant superintendent of the school district says it tastes the same as it goes downs as it does as it comes up”.)

Flight day for Courson began with preparation.

“They took us on base, and they took us up into the public relations office with the Blue Angels and the crew chief for number seven,” he said. “They took us through the safety protocols, the procedures, the aircraft, the safety harness and things like that. Then we learned how we going to breathe properly, the blood flow, tensing the muscles and making sure the blood stays in the top part of your body.”

“When you are flying, you are pulling a lot of G’s, and you want to keep blood pumping through all of that where you don’t pass out.”

“I passed out for about a minute, but it wasn’t very long. The pilot said I did a really good job, better than some.”

“We went out over the Gulf of Mexico, and he was showing me how they perform those maneuvers,” he said. “It’s amazing to think that they are doing what they did with me in a show just 12 inches apart. The margin for error is zero.”

Over the Gulf, Courson was able to experience the top performance of the aircraft, approaching the sound barrier, doing a barrel rolls and other parts of the air show.

He said it was an amazing experience to see the men and women of the Blue Angels team with their dedication and commitment to teamwork. And that’s the key points he wants to make to students.

For a photo gallery, click here.

“It was a unique experience that I’m going to be able to take back to the students at Tate High School and out communities because the team, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are the epitome of the example of teamwork and professionalism for our community and our country. It was just amazing to see the culture of excellence that’s a zero-fail mission. They are going to do everything top notch every single time, and it just brings patriotism to my heart. We don’t get to see the war fighting machine many times because it is in faraway places, but to see what our capabilities are as a nation, it’s just absolutely amazing.”

In case you are wondering, there’s no video of Courson’s flight. We are told the Navy’s GoPro malfunctioned and stopped recording.

Photos for NorthEscambai.com by Austin Courson, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and Visit Pensacola.

New Bradshaw-McNair Fire Station Opens In Beulah

July 12, 2024

The ribbon was cut Thursday on the new Bradshaw-McNair Beulah Fire Station in Beulah.

The state-of-the-art facility has been years in the marking for the fast-growing Beulah community.

For a photo gallery, click here.

The new Station 2, now known as the Bradshaw-McNair Fire Station, pays tribute to two individuals who greatly contributed to fire service in the Beulah area. The late Escambia County Fire Rescue District Chief Dwain Bradshaw, 42, lost his life in the line of duty during the early morning hours of November 6, 2019, while on scene of a fatal crash on the Muscogee Bridge. He was a volunteer district chief at the Bellview Station of Escambia Fire Rescue, volunteer assistant district chief for the Beulah Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and lived a life of public service. Retired ECFR District Chief Steve McNair served the Beulah community as a volunteer firefighter for over 50 years. He helped rebuild the current station after fire destroyed the original Beulah Fire Station in 1977.

“It’s an honor to have this station named after me, and it’s an honor to have Dwain on this building also. Dwain was a special guy,” McNair said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “”Let’s just keep the service going in this community.”

“Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another. and that’s the way Dwain felt,” Dwain Bradshaw, Sr. said about his son.

The new station was funded with Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue.

The new station was designed to be used by a combination paid and volunteer fire department. There are even four pantries and four refrigerators, plus four lockers in each bunk room — one for each of three paid shifts and one for volunteers.

Paid crews will staff the new Bradshaw-McNair Beulah Fire Station 24 hours a day, seven days a week with support from volunteer crews.

The station with a total of 14,503 square feet and four vehicle bays, including one for EMS, also features smart fire station technology.

“I want to say thank you to every man and woman in this community who serves as a first responder, military, law enforcement, it’s a special calling. I’ve never done, but I respect those that do,” Bergosh said. “Anyone that puts their life on the line for us deserves our respect.”

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.


FDLE Charges Beulah Man With 20 Child Porn Counts

July 12, 2024

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested a 50-year old Beulah man on 20 felony chld porn counts.

Charles “Billy” Danielson, 50, was charged with 20 counts of possession of child sexual abuse materials and one count of using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

FDLE said the investigation began in February after agents received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a social media user uploading images of child pornography.

On July 10, agents served a search warrant at Danielson’s residence and seized multiple electronic devices for examination. Agents found numerous images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of male and female children, some as young as infants and toddlers.

Danielson remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $210,000.

Two Cantonment Residents Receive New Homes Through County Programs

July 11, 2024

Two Cantonment residents are the proud owners of brand-new homes that were constructed through county assistance programs that help eligible residents who are living in homes that are damaged beyond repair.

Both homeowners are longtime Cantonment residents, struggling over the years to maintain their aging homes. Now, through the county’s Housing Demo and Replacement Programs, their deteriorating and unsafe houses have been replaced with brand-new houses that will provide them with a safer, less stressful environment to call home.

The new homes were constructed for 79-year-old Mary Simpkins and 77-year-old Barbara Stanton, who were joined by their friends, family, county staff, and District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry to celebrate their official move-in day on July 10.

For more photos, click here.

“I am so proud that we are able to offer county programs like this that help improve the quality of life for our residents in need of a helping hand,” Commissioner Barry said. “There’s no better feeling than having a place of your own to call home, and I hope these new homes provide peace of mind and a sense of security for the homeowners and their families. Congratulations to Ms. Simpkins and Ms. Stanton on this exciting next chapter, and thank you to all of our county staff for their hard work to make this possible.”

Simpkins, Stanton, and their families all expressed their excitement for the new homes, which they said will alleviate significant stress caused by numerous maintenance issues in their old houses.

Stanton moved into her previous house in 1971, with the most significant issues starting after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Roof damage and leaks throughout the house lead to water damage, issues with mold, termites, and generally unsafe living conditions.

“When Ivan came through, that’s when I started having a lot of problems with it,” Stanton said. “It sounded like the roof was lifting off the house. After that, I started having leaks, and then I would get it patched. I stayed kind of disgusted by the way my house was, because before the storm came, it was pretty nice.”

Stanton heard about the possibility of county assistance through a longtime friend, who helped her submit an application for the county’s Housing Demo and Replacement Programs. The programs are funded through grants from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, program.

“I’m just as satisfied and happy as I can be,” Stanton said. “I thank God first of all, county staff, Commissioner Barry – everybody that had a hand in it. I’m so very thankful.”

Simpkins had also experienced numerous issues since moving into her house in 1981, to the point where the house became uninhabitable and unsafe. After the trailer she was living in burned down several years ago, a friend suggested that Simpkins should apply for assistance through the county.

“The water leaked from the kitchen sink, and the water just leaked all the way down and caused holes and rotting,” Simpkins said, describing her former house. “Nobody lived in it then, because it was in bad shape. It was dangerous all over the house – I was scared.”

Simpkins said she’s very grateful for her new home, which will also provide some relief for her family since she has been living with her daughters for about three years.

“I’m excited,” Simpkins said. “I feel real good. I’m just ready to move in.”

Simpkins’ daughter, Sharon Collins, said the whole family is excited for their mom to have a happier, more peaceful life in her new home.

“It really means a lot to my mom, because this is something she’s always been dreaming of, to have her dream home,” Collins said. “It’ll take a big burden off of her, because she’s been really stressed about the other home she used to live in. And we were trying to help her with it, but it just got to a point where it got too bad and we couldn’t fix it anymore.”

Both Simpkins’ and Stanton’s new houses were constructed with stringent insurance and wind mitigation standards in mind, with features including impact-rated windows and doors, along with strengthened shingles and siding to ensure maximum strength in the event of an extreme weather event. These features should also help with eligibility for more competitive insurance policies.

“We’re excited about her moving in and being able to help support her in all the things she’s been wishing for,” Collins said. “This will help us not have to worry so much about repairing the home so she can just live a peaceful life, and we’ll be supportive of her so she can just be happy.”

Additional assistance may be available for income-eligible homeowners in Escambia County. Limited funding is available, but eligible residents in need of assistance are encouraged to reach out for more details. For information about eligibility requirements and assistance programs for Escambia County homeowners, please contact the Neighborhood Enterprise Division at ned@myescambia.com or 850-595-1642.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.