Sunday, July 13, 2003

'World's biggest air show' lands

With four days of flights and 150 planes displayed on the ground, there'll be plenty to see at the Wright brothers commemorative

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, "Thunderbirds", F-16s. The Thunderbird Diamond flies an average of three feet apart and travel at a maximum speed of 425 knots during a demonstration.
(SSgt. Sean M. White/USAFADS photo)
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Count next weekend as one for the record books as the 2003 Vectren Dayton Air Show presented by Kroger takes to the skies over Dayton International Airport Thursday through next Sunday.

The show is double in length, from two days to four, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight.

Air time is tripled, with flight demonstrations running 8:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of the usual 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It's the only air show to present all three North American jet teams - the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels and Canada's Snowbirds - in one show.

And this year's show is on a whopping 130 acres, 30 percent more than last year.

"This year at least, Dayton is the world's largest air show," says show promotions coordinator Ann Gynn. "Traditionally the Paris show is bigger, but this year it was mostly a trade show, and with all we've added, we are the biggest."

Click to view a map of the area. Acrobat PDF file (136k).
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What that means for the projected 150,000 visitors from all 50 states and nine countries is:

• Planes in the air nonstop all four days, everything from World War I vintage aircraft to the last word in military jets. "Watching the planes fly for a full day, you'll see the evolution of aircraft," Gynn says.

• One hundred fifty planes on display on the ground, including vintage, early commercial airliners and cargo planes as well as F-14s and F-16s. "We could have had more planes, but we ran out of space. We had to start saying no," Gynn says.

• 250,000 square feet of covered exhibit space showing off the history and future of aviation, career opportunities, educational opportunities and still more aircraft, including a Birth of Flight exhibit showing off six of the Wright brothers' early gliders.

• More food (festival food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, soft drinks); more restrooms, including portable potties and "comfort stations" - mobile-home affairs with larger stalls and running water; and more air-conditioned tents for when the sun starts to overpower.

Pavilion seating (for flight demonstrations) is sold out, but guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and watch the flights. Sun avoidance tip: Park your lawn chair or blanket in the shade of an airplane wing.

Strollers are welcome, but coolers (defined as anything with insulation) are banned. So take this tip: freeze a couple bottles of water and pack with snacks in a large bag - the water will keep the food cool.

One last bit of advice from Gynn: Come well-rested, because this one "will put you to the test."



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