MONTICELLO — The Hooligan flight team honored veterans from all eras and dazzled the crowd Saturday with a flyover during the “Honor Our Veterans Boat Parade” on Lake Freeman.
The men later received an appreciation plaque from the city of Monticello.
Mayor Ken Houston presented the award to the Hooligans after they landed and settled in for a bite to eat at The Scoreboard. John Workman, one of the original Hooligans, accepted the award on behalf of the group.
Workman and fellow Hooligan Russ McDonald were the two men who started the precision flight team 20 years ago.
“We were at a show and we parked next to each other, met and the rest is history,” Workman said.
The Hooligans now have nine members, each specializing in military formations and maneuvers. The team is privately funded and operated — even down to airplane repairs.
Pilot Tom Hibiske used to be involved in Civil Air Patrol. He said about half of the Hooligans are former veterans and the others are not.
“We all came together from all walks of life,” he said.
The goal of the group is to put on shows and flyovers to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the military.
Retired Navy veteran Bill Klungle remembers the day the squad earned its name. It had four members at the time and were preparing for a formation in Sevierville, Tenn. All the planes flying that day were designated a color for the flight. The four men were at the end of the line and no more colors were available.
“One guy, a grey-haired man, had a patch on that said ‘hooligan’ on it,” Klungle said. “So, we said, ‘We don’t need a color, call us the Hooligans,’ and the name has stuck ever since.”
Klungle said Hooligans were honored to fly Saturday for the gathering of veterans in Monticello.
“That’s why we do it,” he said. “It’s part of our contribution to give back to those who are giving their all.”
The men all fly T-34 aircraft to recognize the military and the veterans, he said. They fly around the world to put on shows and give their respect.
To learn more about the flight team or to view their schedule for the upcoming months, visit http://hooliganflight.com.