Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 13, 2013

Talk about high overhead

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake air show returning July 6

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — Cedar Creek Lake area resident Randy Ball has a passion for flying. Ball is a 23-year air show veteran and is internationally known for his acrobatic stunts in an airplane. 

In 2004, Ball was returning from an air show at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma headed for Tyler to land his plane. Ball made the decision to take a detour over his home in Pinnacle Golf Club. 

His loud, low-flying aircraft attracted the attention of more than just his family and friends visiting. Neighbors were aware the plane was flying low. This day was when Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake was born.

Ball, who has more than 25 years experience as a pilot, invited several other air show professionals to join him for an airshow over Cedar Creek Lake.

The first couple of years the airshow was done just to entertain on the Fourth of July. By the third year, money started being donated to defray the pilot's cost.

A  group in the Pinnacle Club Golf Course formed the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation (CCVF),  a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to benefit military personnel.  All money raised from the air show is distributed to three non-profit military organizations.

The Fisher House  provides free rooms, meals and other services to families of those who are receiving treatment at the Dallas Veterans Administration  Medical Center and the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) at the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.

The NMCRS provides a wide variety of services to personnel in the various military branches such as financial counseling, visiting nurse services, prenatal education and emergency loans.

The CCVF also contributes to  Hope for the Warriors, a very highly-rated charity whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for U.S. service members and their families who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty.

According to CCVF co-president Patty Evans,  the volunteers in Pinnacle Club went all out for the pilots treating each of them to golfing, jet skiing and swimming.

Eventually, Ball and D.C. Campbell, a retired Air Force pilot, were able to get the Air Force to participate in the lake airshow.

Fellow CCVF Co-president Gayle Robinson said, “We are lucky to have this caliber air show at Cedar Creek Lake.”

This year, because of budget cuts, the Air Force is not involved in the show.

“Just because we don't have the Air Force, that doesn't mean we don't have a good show,” Robinson said.

Robinson said there have been other options on which to depend.

“We have had so many organizations offer to volunteer,” she said. “We have been very lucky.” 

Some of the volunteers will be  the VFW from Seven Points, Payne Springs Fire Rescue, Boy Scout Troop 343 from Athens and the Parrot Head Club.

“Tri County Ford and Teague Chevrolet are gracious enough to lend cars for our pilots to drive,” said Robinson. “This is going to be a great show.”

According to Robinson, they plan on starting the air show about 6:45 a.m.

“The FAA tells us when we can start,” Robinson said. “It all has to do with timing, weather and other factors.”

She recommends people get there early.

To become a sponsor or for information on VIP tickets, call Gayle Robinson at 903-451-5054 or Patty Evans at 903-451-1020. Cost is $50.

VIP seating is limited, but there are tickets still available.