It’s airshow season! Fly in to a wonderful airshow in a town near you.
One of the best things about airshows is that so many of them are held at airports! As a pilot, that means you can fly right in to watch the show. But plan ahead and check the airshow website well in advance. You may need to register if you’re planning to fly in; the show organizers want to know how many aircraft to expect. For really big events, a notice to airmen will be issued with special fly-in procedures. Listen up and be ready to comply promptly with any air traffic control instructions, and be extra vigilant about keeping a sterile cockpit environment as you approach what will probably be a very busy airport. The same holds true on the ground as you taxi to parking. Check the web for airshow calendars and get ready to have some fun!
I’ll be spending my birthday weekend June 2 and 3 this year at Mountain Home Air Force Base south of Boise, Idaho, for the Gunfighter Skies Air and Space Celebration. See (and then meet) the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds; other highlights include the F–22 Raptor Demonstration Team and the Tora! Tora! Tora! performance that includes six replica Japanese aircraft that flew in the film Pearl Harbor and were later donated to the Commemorative Air Force. Other great airshows this June include the Rhode Island Open House and Air Show at Quonset State Airport, the Nebraska State Fly-In and Air Show at Chadron Municipal Airport, the Dayton Air Show at Dayton International in Ohio, and CAF Wings Over Indy at Indianapolis International Airport.
Always a favorite, the Arlington Fly-In at Arlington Municipal Airport in Washington state celebrates its fiftieth anniversary July 6 through 8. You’re going to see several aerobatic acts, but the stars are the fantastic warbirds from nearby museums like the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum, Flying Heritage Foundation, and Cascade Warbirds. There are many more shows in July, such as the Westmoreland County Air Show at Arnold Palmer Regional in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and the massive EAA AirVenture fly-in at Wittman Regional in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I’ll be going this year, so we’ll have a full story about Oshkosh next year.
With the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan as backdrops, audience numbers at the Chicago Air and Water Show reach 2 million annually, making it the largest free-admission air and water exhibition of its kind in the United States. The show, held Aug. 18 to 19, celebrates 60 years in 2018 and can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point (on the sectional, that’s halfway between the Montrose Harbor and Navy Pier reporting points). Performing aircraft use Indiana’s Gary/Chicago International, although Midway International is closer.
The Thunderbirds will own the New York skyline Sept. 15 and 16 as they headline the New York Airshow, held at Stewart International Airport, on the west side of the Hudson River Valley. The Oregon International Air Show celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this Sept. 28 through 30. Held at the Portland-Hillsboro Airport, and attracting some 65,000 spectators annually, it claims to be the largest civilian air show on the west coast. The Reno Air Races, officially known as the National Championship Air Races, is a multi-day event that takes place each September at the Reno/Stead Airport. Air racing is billed as "the world's fastest motor sport," and Reno is one of the few remaining venues. I haven’t been to this bucket-list event yet myself, but friends who go yearly say you feel the thrill of speed and power to your very bones.
These are just a few of this summer’s great air show events; check the calendar for many more!
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