Here's how you know Kevin Pottinger was a pilot: When the F-22 Raptors roared above Alliance Airport Thursday morning, members of the ground crew clasped their headsets and bystanders plugged their ears. Pottinger, his hands in the pockets of his blue jeans, just looked up and smiled.
"My hearing is shot," he shouted.
Pottinger, a retired major general who lives in Keller, spent 39 years in the Air Force, the last 28 of those flying F-4 and F-16 fighter jets. On Thursday, as crews prepped for this weekend's Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, Pottinger was only a spectator. He had a good reason for watching.
His son, Capt. Patrick Pottinger, piloted one of the two F-22 jets into Alliance, arriving just after 9 a.m. from Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla.
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The show runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The 25th edition features demonstrations from the Raptors, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the Breitling Jet Team and several individual acts, including Sean Tucker of Team Oracle in an aerobatic plane.
“The maneuvers [the Raptors] will do are maneuvers we'll do in air combat,” Patrick Pottinger said. “It'll show you the full capability of the aircraft, as far as maneuvering goes.”
The younger Pottinger won't be flying in the air show, but when he was offered the opportunity to deliver a plane for the event, he jumped at the opportunity. The Fort Worth area is home, and Friday is the 14-year anniversary of 9/11.
The terror attacks spurred his dad to re-enter the Air Force Reserve in 2002. He first retired from the reserve in 1999, four years after the Pottingers settled in Keller.
Around that same time, when he was just 8 years old, Patrick set the goal of becoming a pilot. He enrolled in TCU's ROTC program and graduated as a commissioned officer in 2007.
After two years more years of training, he was officially the pilot of an F-22.
“I just knew he had the passion, because everything he did growing up had something to do with airplanes or some type of machinery,” Kevin said. “His interest was always there.”
Kevin, 60, retired from the reserve in June. A month later, he went to Tyndall to watch Patrick lead a mission of six planes. The father rode in the back of a jet that flew beside his son. It was their first time flying in the same unit.
“One last hurrah,” Patrick said. “Looking over and seeing him in an airplane, he looked like he was my age again.”
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7684
If you go
▪ The 25th Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, sponsored by Bell Helicopter, is Saturday and Sunday at Alliance Airport, 2221 Alliance Blvd., in far north Fort Worth.
▪ The show is free, but parking is $30 at the event. Preferred and VIP parking passes are available for purchase at www.allianceairshow.com. Southbound traffic on I-35 exit Eagle Parkway. Northbound traffic exit Alliance Blvd.
▪ Gates open at 9 a.m. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
▪ Featured performers include the F-22 Raptor, Breitling Jet Team and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, all flying mid to later afternoon each day.