The aircraft on display Friday evening at Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport ranged from single-engine puddle jumpers to a fighter jet, transport planes and a massive beast that flew passengers and carried mail during its heyday in the 1930s and ‘40s.
The event, the Owensboro Air Show’s static air show, opened to the public at 4:30 p.m. By 5:30, the airport apron was packed, as people waited in long lines to sit in the planes and helicopters, and to talk to the pilots. When members of the Thunderbirds flight team arrived, the crowd mobbed around them, as the Air Force F-16 pilots and crew members signed autographs.
Vanessa Griggs and her family were at the DC-3, taking photos.
“We go to the air show downtown, but we haven’t made it to the airport” before Friday, Griggs said. “We just came to see the airplanes, and let the kids get inside them and see them up close.”
Friday’s show included a nighttime air show and fireworks. Griggs said the family lives close enough to the airport and usually watch the Friday night shows from home.
“We watch it from our yard,” Griggs said. “This is one of our favorite events.”
The static air show is the first public event of the weekend festival, and turnout quickly filled the fields turned over for parking on Bittel Road.
Near the F-15 Fighting Falcon, Heaven Holt, her children Tilly and Cooper and her father, Andy Winstead, admired the jet fighter.
Winstead said, while he liked all the aircraft on display, the Fighting Falcon “is the star of the show.”
“I’d pay to take me up” on a flight in the F-16, Winstead said. “They give you goosebumps when they fly over.”
Holt said her children enjoy the riverfront airshow over the weekend.
“They like the fast ones and the loud ones,” Holt said.
At the Flagship Detroit DC-3, Jim Ikard and other members of the nonprofit group that keep the 1937 plane in shape spoke with the large crowd gathered around.
Ikard said the plane flew for 10 years for American Airlines, and is now kept up and displayed by the Flagship Detroit Foundation. Ikard, a retired American Airlines pilot, said the plane was reconstructed over a three-year period.
“It flew for 10 years, then went to Mexico and South America,” Ikard said “We found it in Virginia, being used as a crop duster.
“There is a whole group of people who volunteer their time to keep this going,” Ikard said.
The group flew the 21-seat passenger plane to Owensboro from Shelbyville, Tennessee.
When the group takes the DC-3 to events, sometimes people ask how they got the airplane to the event. “I think they find it hard to believe a thing this old is still flying,” Ikard said. “It’s a beautiful plane to fly.”
The Air Show continues downtown Saturday with “Bridge Day,” where people can walk the Glover Cary Bridge, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The riverfront air shows will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, [email protected], Twitter: @JamesMayse