FARGO — One of the biggest crowd-pleasers at the Fargo AirSho on Saturday, July 24, never left the ground.
But, boy, could it fly.
Shockwave, the jet-powered semi-truck driven by Chris Darnell, lived up to its name more than once during the day, including an afternoon performance in which the truck, powered by three jet engines that generate about 36,000 horsepower, defeated a propeller-driven biplane in a smoke- and fire-filled drag race down one of the runways at Fargo's Hector International Airport.
The truck has been known to reach speeds of 376 mph, but Darnell said it usually zooms around airshows at about 340-360 mph.
Darnell, who operates the Springfield, Mo.-based Shockwave rig with his father, Neal, refers to the gleaming machine as "the king of all jet trucks," and says a sign that advertises 300 mph rides for $3,000 a pop finds more takers than one might think.
"I call it the assault of the senses,'' Darnell said, referring to the sensory overload created by the blasting sound and thrust of multiple jet engines.
The Fargo AirSho, which is headlined by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels fighter squadron, continues Sunday.
For those planning to attend, a convenient place to park is the parking lot of the nearby Fargodome.
Among the ground-based attractions at the AirSho Saturday was a World War II-era Mitchell B-25 bomber that did not see combat during the war but has been transformed into a carbon copy of the "Miss Mitchell," a B-25 that flew more than 122 combat missions.
While the original "Miss Mitchell" survived the war, she met a violent end decades later when the military used the plane as a target for missile practice, according to Roger Van Ranst, a mechanic and a member of the team that shows the bomber at airshows around the country.
While the B-25 bomber gained fame as the plane used in a 1942 raid on Tokyo led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, Van Ranst said many people he meets, especially younger generations, seem to have little to no awareness of Doolittle's raid, or even of the war itself.
"World War II, for the younger people, is something they've barely ever heard of," Ranst said.
Among the people taking in the AirSho Saturday were Casper Glaser and Joel Gustafson, who traveled from the Bismarck-Mandan area to attend the show.
As a Fargo AirSho attendee, Glaser was a repeat customer.
"I really enjoy them," he said of the airshows, adding: "I wish they'd bring one to Bismarck. They haven't had one for years."
If You Go
What: Fargo AirSho
When: July 24-25. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. each day. AirSho starts at about 11 a.m. Exact performance times vary due to the fluid nature of the show.
Where: Hector International Airport, Fargo.