Red, white and blue will be this hippest colors on the beach for Independence Day as the fifth annual “Salute from the Shore” graces the S.C. coast.
This parade of vintage aircraft will start at about 1 p.m. from Little River and caravan south all the way to Hilton Head Island.
Every July 4 since 2010, a group of aviators have flown a fleet of planes for the hour-or-so cruise along the coast to elicit the cheer and spirit of the U.S. holiday. Everyone beachbound is encouraged to dress and decorate in, and wave, the colors of Old Glory as videographers shoot footage from the parade of aircraft for posting on the website salutefromtheshore.org.
Barry Avent, the lead pilot and flight coordinator since 2012, talked last week about the festive nature of what has become a Grand Strand and S.C. tradition for celebrating the United States’ birthday, its 238th this year. Bringing along former service personnel for rides adds another perk to piloting one of the aircraft.
The vice president of operations for Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Bennettsville and a former commercial and freight airline and S.C. state pilot, Avent said this marks his third Salute from the Shore flight.
It now has only eight seats in back. It looks like it was in 1943 when it was built. ... I’ve tried to leave it as close to the original as possible. ...
A friend of mine in Columbia emailed me about flying veterans on the Fourth of July and he asked, “Would you be interested in using your C-47?” ... We were one of three or four airplanes in my first year. ... We’ll have a better pace this year than we’ve had in the past, because we’re going to schedule flights to come through at a pace so that everybody can stay not too far from one another.
From Cherry Grove to Hilton Head Island, last year, we were amazed last year at the number of people who were on the beach with American flags. It was an honor, and it is an honor to be part of this, and we have have men and women who have served our country and are serving our country flying with us. It’s just something to relish for the rest of my life. ...
Also, everyone flying with us has an opportunity to see what the view is from the front of the airplane.
It’s really about 195 nautical miles if you’re along the coast for the whole thing. ... It’s a pretty jagged coast. You actually start out from east to west on the north end, and by the time you get to the south end, you’re tracking pretty steadily southwest. It is not a north-south coast, it runs more east-west, or northeast to southwest.