BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — As hundreds of people gathered across West Michigan for Memorial Day events, some people got a chance to see vintage aircraft flyovers from the Hooligan Flight Team.
The Hooligan Flight Team did six different flyovers on Memorial Day alone, including events in Jenison, Walker, Holland and Muskegon.
“With those windy conditions, formation flying is a challenge. It’s been a hectic day. It was very just-in-time delivery. We went from one goal to the other and it was very busy, productive day,” Hibiske told 24 Hour News 8.
The Hooligans attend events several times a year to honor veterans and the servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.
“A lot of the gratification we have is with air shows and stuff when veterans come up and say ‘I put all kinds of hours in that plane back when I was 19 years old in Pensacola back in ’57, ’58 and it’s very gratifying to hear that type of thing,” said Tom Hibiske, one of the pilots.
Hibiske is a commercially rated pilot and is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force Auxilliary. He joined the group about 15 years ago when it formed. The group is made up of some veterans, and all of them are warbird enthusiasts.
“We all came together roughly out of happenstance about 15 years ago and over the last ten years, we’ve kind of gelled as a group and done a lot more practice, a lot more certification processes and just kind of polished our game, if you will. We’ve come from all walks of life, all types of businesses. Our common thread, our common goal is we love the aircraft, we love sharing the aircraft with our public and showing them what these aircraft are capable of and of course, honoring our veterans and community people at the same time,” said Hibiske.
The aircraft Hibiske flies was made in 1957.
“We all say we’re just the custodians of this aircraft because this aircraft was made in 1957 which is almost as old as I am which is pretty scary, but it’s in excellent shape, of course, we keep it that way and it’s really a flying icon,” Hibiske said.
The group enjoys doing the events and making the crowds smile.
“To fly overhead and be part of that event when you look down from the sky and see it all happening and people dedicating their time and efforts, it’s very fulfilling,” Hibiske said.
The Hooligans span the entire region and are based in Battle Creek, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Indiana and Ohio.
“It’s a good team, good group, my closest friends. I mean we’re trusting our lives with each other every time anyway and so that builds a pretty close bond as you can imagine,” said Hibiske.