The smaller the airshow, the closer you get to the airplanes and pilots. (And the better the food.)
- By Patricia Trenner
- Air & Space magazine, May 2004
(Page 2 of 2)
The homey food at small airshows can be as big a draw as the aircraft. “We have a barbecue cabin with smoked pulled-pork sandwiches, and the Black Forest Restaurant serves German sausage, sauerkraut balls, and cabbage balls,” Popp says. “Sounds awful—and I’m German!—but they always sell out.” At the World’s Smallest Airshow, organizer Felice Apodaca notes that a fair number of people show up just for the community association’s bake sale.
Other pleasures abound at small shows, like evening dances. In fact, Martinsburg, West Virginia’s Wings of Freedom Airshow (September 18 and 19) provides free swing-dance lessons before the World War II hangar dance. You can dance to classic rock at California’s Ramona Air Fair (June 26 and 27), the country’s oldest aerial firefighting base. The show also offers an evening hot-air balloon “glow.” (All proceeds benefit the families of aerial firefighters killed in action.)
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.