AIRSHO provides thrilling reminder of Permian Basin’s leadership in aviation and energy

AIRSHO provides thrilling reminder of Permian Basin’s leadership in aviation and energy

This year’s AIRSHO in Midland gave new meaning to “time flies.”

The P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang and B-25 Devil Dog were among the gorgeous vintage planes to “buzz the tower” at Midland International Air & Space Port for the 31st Annual CAF High Sky Wing AIRSHO, which invites tens of thousands of spectators to experience the Permian Basin’s proud history of aviation and energy innovation in real time.

“It’s been great watching the old WWII planes fly by,” said Ryder Booth, VP of the Mid Continent Business Unit for Chevron, the two-day show’s presenting sponsor. “A lot of us get to watch history on TV, to research history. It’s rare you get a chance to see history live.”

Among the nation’s largest annual events of its kind, the all-volunteer-run AIRSHO thrilled with gravity-defying twirls of aerobatic pilots, the precision of pilots soaring across the sky in meticulous formation, and the roar of a jet-powered truck rocketing across the runway at 300 mph.

Action at the 31st Annual CAF High Sky Wing AIRSHO, Sept. 10-11, 2022. Photo credit: Todd Ockert

The event, which cost just $5 to attend, serves as an opportunity for community members to get up close and personal with historic war birds, and a chance to “educate, honor and inspire,” said AIRSHO Director Gina Linebarger. In addition to the action on and above the tarmac, families learned the rich history of local aviation at the Midland Army Air Field Museum Hangar. In that same hangar, members of the U.S. Marines worked to inspire future pilots with a virtual reality exhibit. Closer to the runway, Chevron opened its STEM Zone to provide fun hands-on, science-based activities to inspire future innovators.

For Congressman August Pfluger, who flew the F-15 and F-22 Raptor fighter jets as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, AIRSHO is also an important moment to honor veterans who fought for our freedom, as well as the innovators back home who helped fuel those victories.

It includes the energy provided by companies like Chevron, which has operated consistently in the Permian Basin for more nearly a century.

 The high-octane fuel provided by the Permian Basin ‘really gave our pilots a tactical advantage’ during WWII.

“Without Midland, Odessa, the Permian Basin, and their supply of oil, I don’t think we could’ve sustained that kind of a war effort,” Bill Coombes, executive director of the High Sky Wing, told CBS7 in an interview last week.

Chevron alone produced over a billion gallons of high-octane aviation fuel, which at the time became referred to as “magic fuel,” Chevron Historian John Harper added in the CBS7 report.

Booth, whose father was a B-52 pilot with the U.S. Air Force and whose grandfather piloted a C-47 that was shot down during WWII, said the high-octane fuel provided by the Permian Basin “really gave our pilots a tactical advantage.”

“It’s the innovation that won WWII. It’s the innovation that has lifted a billion people out of poverty throughout this world,” Congressman Pfluger said. “It’s the innovation that heats and cools our homes, and powers our world. And it’s the innovation that allowed our military, our commercial industry to go from the Wright Brothers to the airplane I flew, which was the F22.”

Taylor Stevenson, volunteer pilot at the CAF High Sky Wing AIRSHO on Sept. 10-11, 2022.

The congressman added, “I don’t think that any one thing signifies freedom more than aviation.”

World-changing innovation is still happening in the Permian, which today produces about 35 percent of oil and gas energy for the U.S. Between 2030 and 2040, that figure is estimated to rise to 60 percent.

A big part of that innovation will involve ongoing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the oil and gas industry.

“This is one of the low carbon basins of the world,” Booth said. “The worldwide average is 45 kilograms of CO2 per barrel. The Permian averages around 15kg of CO2 per barrel, a third of the worldwide average. So if you believe in a lower carbon world, this is an important region going forward.”

Booth said Chevron is proud to partner with AIRSHO to continue to recreate that history in order to inform a brighter future. “We hope this partnership can go on for many years to come,” he said.