MYRTLE BEACH — C.D. Rozsa of Myrtle Beach and a friend arrived a few minutes early for this year’s Salute from the Shore, and they likely were two of just a few who knew it was pending among the thousands along the boardwalk and beach at Plyler Park.
“I think it’s great somebody stepped in,” Rozsa said of the volunteers who flew vintage planes down the Palmetto coastline as replacements to the Air Force planes grounded this year because of sequestration.
He recalls the C-17 dipping its giant wings as it flew along the coast in the first Salute from the Shore and the F-16s with their missing man formation in a subsequent Salute, but he was familiar with the older planes too because of the time he worked at the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum.
Others noticed what looked like a World War II bomber escorted by several propeller-driven fighter planes and trailed by a biplane, and they figured they had something to do with the Fourth of July.
But they didn’t know the story of the annual salute and the twist in this year’s celebration.
“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Virginia Arrington of Rocky Mount, N.C., said when she heard about the tradition. “Hats off to the military.”
Chris DeLarosa of San Antonio, Texas, said he thinks the vintage planes might be more noticeable than the modern ones.
“The older aircraft draw more attention,” he said.
DeLarosa and buddy Luis Rodriguez, both workers at Boeing in San Antonio who are on temporary assignment in Charleston, strolled the boardwalk as they looked at the aircraft flying over.
Rodriguez said having the older airplanes is a good way to bring the history of aviation to the public.
Salute from the Shore is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 2008 whose mission is to salute and honor the nation’s armed forces on the Fourth of July.
“It’s really inspiring that despite challenges this year, we are flying anyway,” said Andy Folsom, president of the organization’s board of directors.
Rozsa and his friend stationed themselves at the railing on the beach side of the boardwalk when they arrived and kept their eyes north. The Salute airplanes this year came from Bennettsville and Columbia and began their trip down the coast at 1 p.m. when they flew over the Cherry Grove Pier.
The trip was to be completed at 2 p.m. when the planes flew over Hilton Head before turning homeward.
Rozsa said he couldn’t get into the military because of health problems, but he wouldn’t mind a taste of it.
“I’d love to be in a plane going along the shore for something like this,” he said.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.