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Airshow Lite

The smaller the airshow, the closer you get to the airplanes and pilots. (And the better the food.)

Smokejumpers also play a part in the Lyon County Fly-In and Airfest in Fernley, Nevada (May 15 and 16), which opens with a demo jump by the Bureau of Land Management smokejumpers from Boise, Idaho. After that, some 5,000 showgoers can tuck into a pancake breakfast, watch demos of model rockets and aircraft, take glider rides, and get a chance to win prizes: dinners, flowers, haircuts, or a four- by eight-foot shed.

Small shows aren’t afraid of a little irreverence. At the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in upstate New York, weekend shows from June to October feature antique and reproduction aircraft in flight, some in kitschy skits with characters like Trudy Truelove, the Evil Baron of Rhinebeck, and Sir Percy Goodfellow. You can also buy an open-cockpit biplane ride, participate in a vintage-fashion show, and see run-ups of early aircraft engines.

The International Council of Air Shows estimates that up to 18 million North Americans take in an airshow every year. No matter the show size, crowds love the roar of the engines and the smell of the fries. It’s just that sometimes, Lesser is more.

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