What’s it like to be deployed at sea for six months? How does the Navy contribute to world peace and security? What new technologies is the Navy currently developing? These questions and many more will be answered in Fargo, N.D., one of 12 cities selected to host a 2015 Navy Week, a Navy signature outreach program.
Fargo Navy Week is scheduled for July 20-26, 2015, coincide with the Fargo AirSho, and is designed to provide area residents an opportunity to learn about the Navy, its people, and its importance to national security and prosperity.
The U.S. Navy Blues Angels fly Boeing F/A 18 Hornet fighter jets, and have been entertaining air show fans for over six decades with fast-paced maneuvers including unforgettable six-member tight formations.
It is on bittersweet wings that the planners and performers bring you this 2015 Fargo AirSho. The Casselton, N.D., ace has been a fixture of this event since its inception in 1989.
The U.S. Marine Corps and North Dakota Air National Guard vet went by the call-sign “Fang” and truly flew in rarified air, at once at home as an aviator extraordinaire in the cockpits of crop dusters, fighters, commercial jumbo jets and aerobatic planes. Maroney died in the spring of 2014, when his de Havilland DHC-1 “Super Chipmunk” inexplicably crashed into a mountainside in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest, enroute to perform a Florida air show. He was 59.
Friends and fellow pilots will attest that you will never meet another wing man like Jim. He could roll, tail-slide, loop and tumble and scorch across the sky like none other, all with grace and with that winning smile on his face. It was no wonder that Fang became enamored with flight. During WWII his father flew P-51 Mustangs, escorting B-29s in bombing raids over Japan from an Allied base on Iwo Jima.
At the age of just 4 he held the stick of his father’s PA-11Cub crop dusting plane. Maroney worked his way to degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from California State-Fresno, then joined the Marines and attended U.S. Navy Flight School, where he earned his wings, graduating 1st in a class of nearly 1,700 Naval aviators. Two years later, in 1983, he finished 1st again as “Top Gun” at the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School.
Upon retiring from active duty, he returned to North Dakota and joined the Air National Guard. He also began a civilian flight career, flying everything from the 757 to the DC-10.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, he was one of four NDANG F-16 “Fighting Falcon” pilots armed with weapons and scrambled to Washington, D.C., to protect the nation’s Capital from further terrorist attacks.
“We had trained all of our careers to shoot down the enemy,” Maroney recalled in a 2011 interview. Now, we were possibly going to have to shoot down an airplane full of American citizens. It was tough. I was up there circling, looking down on the Pentagon smoking and burning and wondering if there was more coming.”
For those among us fortunate enough to have known and flown with Fang, we can be consoled by the fact that he showed us that flight is not to be feared, but to be embraced. Fang saw the world through the lens of an eagle. Slingshot off carriers. Overnights L.A. to Japan. Crossing time lines and equators all.
At the controls, Jim could make a plane dance with the sun, and then flutter its wings to tame the wind itself. Then he’d be falling, diving toward earth in a hammerhead, later leveling out to pass an air show crowd line, standing and waving the red, white and blue flag, no less, in a his cockpit, as to say, “Look mom, no hands on the stick, no feet on the rudders.” Look at me fly.
Maroney especially enjoyed air shows because of the kids. He and Susan didn’t have their own. Yet many young and learned a love of aviation in no small part because of Maroney, some among then having felt the call to military service through is example. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I get to go to airshows and hang out with the most incredible people,” he said once in an interview. “I want to share it with the kids and the other people in the crowd.”
Get ready for the 2015 Fargo AirSho, July 25 and 26 at Hector International Airport!
We will be featuring thrilling performances from Franklin’s Flying Circus, Paul Stender, Skip Stewart, Kent Pietsch, Lt. Col. John Klatt, Sky Dive Fargo, AV-8B HARRIER II, U.S. Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs” and the world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron back by popular demand.
We are excited to announce that the AV-8B HARRIER II will be joining our show!
Representing, arguably, the greatest breakthroughs in aircraft technology, the Harrier was the first VSTOL-capable (vertical/short takeoff and landing) jet in the Marine inventory, giving MAGTF commanders new flexibility on the battlefield. With the ability to attack anywhere, the Harrier forces the enemy to defend everywhere, exposing vulnerabilities the enemy must divert resources to protect.
22,000 pounds of thrust enable the Harrier II to hover like a helicopter, and then blast forward like a jet at near-supersonic speeds. Like every aircraft in the Marine fleet, this aircraft is used for multiple missions, which include attacking and destroying surface and air targets, escorting helicopters, engaging in air-to-air defense, providing reconnaissance and applying offensive and defensive support with its arsenal of missiles, bombs and an onboard 25mm cannon. Offering the versatility to conduct almost any mission, the Harrier II provides the ideal blend of firepower and mobility to effectively counter enemies engaged by our ground forces.