Photo Gallery: Cable Air Show

UPLAND - Veteran aeronautics pilot Rob "The Tumbling Bear" Harrison very likely made his final Cable Air Show appearance on Sunday.

"You're awesome," a small boy called out to Harrison shortly after the pilot landed from his first performance of the day.

"You're retiring?" another boy asked.

"Not yet. Not yet. I'll be back," Harrison replied.

The exchange took place after Harrison, 71, piloted his canary yellow Zlin 50LX monoplane above Cable Airport into a series of dizzying rolls and dives before thrilling the crowd with a pair of high-speed passes, traveling just above the runway at speeds of at least 200 mph.




The Cable Air Show took place Saturday and Sunday at Cable Airport in Upland.

Harrison can pull as much as 8 Gs during a performance, but he and his aircraft still have a few shows left in them.

He and wife Susan Newman-Harrison said they plan to appear this May at the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, but they also said this year's performances at Cable Air Show will be his last.

The Tumbling Bear's retirement won't be final until he sells the Zlin 50LX and his other planes, and despite a fuel bill that "looks like the national debt," leaving the air show performances behind won't be easy.

"I have been a fair success in a lot of areas. I'm an attorney, a scientist and an engineer. But my identity is `The Tumbling Bear,"' Harrison said. "There was a kid who came here when he was four years old. The last time I saw him - I didn't see him this year - he was a lieutenant in the Air Force."

The kid not only grew up to be an officer, Newman-Harrison said, but flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"He said that Rob inspired him," she said.

The Tumbling Bear was not the only pilot to push aeronautical engineering to its limits at the air show.

Sammy Mason, an 18-year-old pilot from Santa Paula, showed off his skills by maneuvering his red Pitts biplane through a wicked series of rolls and loops.

Other aviators included Frank Donnelly, also known as "Dr. D," who demonstrated what he called "old time aerobatics in a 1946 Taylorcraft; John Collver and "War Dog," a 1944 AT-6 plane designed for military training, and Vance Breece, who piloted a gyro plane reminiscent of "Little Nellie," the airplane-helicopter hybrid James Bond flew in "You Only Live Twice."

"It was great," Collver said after his flight. "Very relaxing and enjoyable to share this with everybody out there."


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