The Vectren Dayton Air Show returns to the skies over Dayton International Airport this Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors to Dayton’s premier aviation event will notice several changes this year.
Usually synonymous with July heat, the show, in its 39th year, has moved up to the beginning of the summer, giving guests a cooler and more enjoyable experience.
Secondly and most noticeably, this year will be the first in the show’s history that there will be no military presence.
Traditionally, the show has featured either the Navy Blue Angels or the Air Force Thunderbirds as headliners that attract large numbers of aviation fans, but the Department of Defense has canceled all military participation in civilian air shows due to sequestration.
“When you don’t have a jet team performing, you expect attendance to go down,” General Manager Brenda Kerfoot said. “It will be less attended and we’ve made plans according to that.”
Many annual air shows around the country, including Cleveland and Indianapolis, canceled their shows altogether.
“There are usually 300 air shows scheduled throughout a typical season and over half have canceled,” Kerfoot explained. “In our region, we are really the only show.”
Even without the benefit of military jet demonstrations, this year’s show schedule will offer entertainment for all ages with world-class aerobatic champions and historical warbirds from past aviation eras.
Headlining the Vectren Dayton Air Show is the North American Aeroshell Aerobatic Team. Flying four AT-6G Texan aircrafts complete with smoke systems, the team will perform a variety of precision aerobatic maneuvers in a formation style performance.
Thrill-seekers can look forward to the performance of wing-walker Jane Wicker who is making her first appearance in Dayton.
“What sets (Jane Wicker) apart from other wing-walker acts is that she does part of the show untethered,” Kerfoot said.
Also highlighting this year’s show will be award-winning aerobatic pilots Sean D. Tucker, Mike Goulian and Skip Stewart.
Fans will also be able to get a closer look at the performance planes due to adjustment in the venue layout that puts these planes in the middle of the spectator area.
“Right in the middle of the grounds we have performer pit row,” Kerfoot said. “It’s a little unorthodox to do something like this. It obviously requires more security, but the neat thing about it is that spectators can get an up close look at the performance planes and the pilots.”
The world’s only active B-29 Flying Fortress “Fifi” will be back at the show for the first time since 1993.
Visitors to the show can also spend time walking around the tarmac and view numerous static displays including the C-S4 Skymaster, the B-24 Liberator and featured this year is the “Rise Above” display about the Tuskegee airmen.
The Rise Above display will bring with it a trailer that creates a 30-seat theater with a 160-degree panoramic screen. Additionally, the display will feature a commemorative Air Force red tail squadron P-51C Mustang and fans will be able to meet and speak with real redtail veterans.
With the absence of military demonstrations, Dayton Air Show organizers had to be creative.
“We have to actively look at what we haven’t done,” Kerfoot said. “With the absence of a jet show, we wanted a good variety of aircraft to provide the most entertaining show. We’ve got to be one of the best airshows in the country this year.”
Decorated veteran and former Army pilot Michael Durant will make a guest appearance at this year’s Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Durant, a former member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, served in Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia, a firefight made famous by Mark Bowden’s book “Black Hawk Down” and Ridley Scott’s film of the same name.
On October 3, 1993, Durant was the pilot of Super-Six Four, the second black hawk helicopter to be shot down during the operation.
Shortly after the crash, hundreds of armed Somali militia descended on the crash site and the critically injured crew members.
In response, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart , both Delta Force Snipers who were providing aerial support, requested to be inserted at the crash site in to defend Durant and his crew.
Gordon and Shughart fought hostile Somalis as long as they could before they ran out of ammunition, at which point they were both killed and the helicopter was overrun. Gordon and Shughart each received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for their actions.
Durant, the only survivor, was taken as prisoner of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and held captive for 11 days before being released.
During his captivity, Durant was the focus of media across the country and he appeared on the covers of Time Magazine, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report.
Durant has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the POW/MIA ribbon.
Since retiring from the Army, Durant became a public speaker and wrote the New York Times Bestselling book “In the Company of Heroes.”
He now serves as president of Pinnacle Solutions Inc., a simulation and training company based in Alabama. He will be visiting the air show on Saturday only and will be available to sign books.
How To Go:
What: Vectren Dayton Air Show
Where: Air Show Expo Center at the Dayton International Airport on McCauley Drive. From Interstate 75, exit at Northwoods Boulevard (Exit 64)and take Northwoods Boulevard and make a right on Dixie Drive and then a left on McCauley Drive to get to the Expo Center.
All parking will be at the field at Northwoods Boulevard and Dixie Drive.
There will be no parking off of National Road.
The Greater Dayton RTA will have express buses operating during the two-day event from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Shuttle runs from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the University of Dayton Arena Parking lot A. The shuttle service is $3 round trip. Children ages 5 and younger ride free.
When: June 22 and June 23. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. both days
More Info: www.daytonairshow.com or (937) 898-5901.
Schedule: Feature Flying Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Schedule is subject to change.
-Wright B Flyer
-Jane Wicker Skywalking
-Team Fastrax Skydiving
-School Time Jet Bus
-B-29 Takeoff with Fighter Escort
-Aeroshell Great Wall of Fire
-“Rise Above” Tuskegee Airmen Display with 30-seat theatre and a 160-degree panoramic screen. Display also includes P-51C Mustang
-Dusty, star of Disney’s “Planes” to perform
-AH-1F Cobra/ UH1H Huey helicopter rides
-Numerous static displays including C-S4 Skymaster and B-24 Liberator
-Unopened bottled water
-Small coolers carrying only life-saving medication or formula bottles for infants
-Food, but it must be wrapped in clear packaging and cannot be in a cooler
What NOT to bring:
-Cans or glass
-Tents or awnings
-Carpool to save money. Parking is $10 per car and $20 per RV.
-Use ice pack instead of loose ice, which is prohibited because it is difficult to search.
-Limit the size and number of carry-in items
-Stay hydrated by taking advantage of free water stations
-Shaded areas are limited. Plan to be out under the open sky and dress according to weather forecasts.
-While the show takes place under an open sky, guests can find shade under the wings of static aircraft. However, prepare for the heat as shaded areas tend to go very quickly.
Cost: General-admission tickets can be purchased at the main gate and online. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids ages 6-11 and seniors. Children 5 and younger are free.
Kids who eat at Kroger will be able to subtract three dollars off of the total with a valid Kroger plus card. General Admission tickets are also available at the U.S. Air Force Museum.
Family Discount: The family 4-pack, priced at $74.95, is the best value for families of four with a savings of 30 percent off on-site prices. Family 4-pack tickets may be purchased online through noon on June 21.
1. 4 general admission tickets
2. 4 hot dogs
3. 4 sodas
4. 1 general admission parking pass
5. 1 air show souvenir program