“The sights when you jump out of the plane over Tampa Bay and Downtown Tampa are absolutely gorgeous,” Pro-rated Parachutist Keith Walter said. “The kids are so enthusiastic and so happy. It’s going to be a great event.”
During the Air Invasion, The Chuters will be landing at Desoto and Bayshore (one block north of Howard and Bayshore). They will jump once in the afternoon and then right before it gets dark out for the Piratechnic Finale.
The Chuters train year-round and are required to do at least 50 jumps a year per person. Walters said he has personally completed about 6,000 jumps.
“The first time, you’re scared. By the time you do it a few times, you’re not really scared anymore,” Walter said. “When we do a performance, you get a little anxiety because you want to perform well. You gotta get your mind right, you gotta get in a happy place and you really gotta concentrate on your job.”
Thousands of kids and their families are expected to watch the Children’s Gasparilla’s Air Invasion. If they are interested in a future in the aviation industry, Walter said there are a few ways to get started.
“A lot of high schools have some aviation programs. I know Sun N’ Fun has some programs that are specifically targeted to children about how to start a career in aviation,” he said.
Also participating in the airshow are GhostWrite Airshows with Pilot Nathan Hammond and Xtra 300 – Edge Formation Flight with local Tampa Bay Pilots Scott and Chaz.
The Air Invasion will begin at noon and run through the start of the Children’s Gasparilla Parade at 3:30 p.m.
The “Piratechnic” Finale will take place from 6:30 p.m. through 7 p.m.
On Jan. 29, WFLA Now J.B. Biunno will bring special live coverage beginning at 11:30 a.m. with Pirate Invasion. Viewers can als watch News Channel 8’s Jennifer Leigh, Chief Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli, Leigh Spann, Avery Cotton, Chris Martinez and Deanne King as they host the live parade coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. on WFLA.