The featured performances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show may draw the crowds, but the static aircraft displays this year were a huge part of the experience.
Sunday’s air show had more than 50 aircraft in one of the largest static displays in several years. About 30 of those were military aircraft, estimated Roger Doctor, public safety director for the air show. That’s more than triple the eight military craft Doctor said were on display at the show two years ago.
During that time, the airshow display was hurt by a government sequester, or budget cut. Because of the cuts, military branches were limited in the number of military aircraft each branch could display.
“This is a huge, huge airport, so then you’re struggling to try to not make it look like nothing,” Doctor said. “Even though we had some good flying acts, people like to walk up and see and touch.”
The sequester was partially lifted before the show last year, resulting in a fair supply, but it was “very late in the game,” Doctor said. This year’s larger display offered walk through tours of fighters, bombers and cargo aircraft.’
“That’s what the air show is all about. Those are our military people and now you actually get to go up and have a face-to-face talk,” Doctor said. “When you bring that all together and people get to see that, we get excited about our country again. We get excited about the fact that we know our military is there to protect us 24/7.”
In addition to military aircraft, the static display featured Samaritan First, a craft that travels the world providing relief, and the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, which travels the world training eye health teams in vision care.
The air show also puts a major focus on the local aviation industry, Doctor said.
A feature performance by Cincinnati-based Redline had the crowd on its feet early in the show Sunday. Redline head pilot Ken Rieder went to his first air show at 5 years old, joined the Civil Air Patrol at 12 and got his pilot’s license at 21 years old.
“From there on it was everything I could do to get flying,” Rieder said.
The weather cooperated with Rieder and other performers Sunday, with clear skies allowing a show Sunday where acts could soar high. Saturday the first acts had to modify stunts because of low cloud cover; Sunday’s performances were able to fly as planned.
Vicky Benzing, the fastest woman racer in the history of the Reno Air Races in Nevada, couldn’t perform her opening stunt Saturday because of low clouds, but Sunday she didn’t have to worry about the clouds.
The temperatures also stayed lower than in past years, and medics saw few issues needing hospitalization Sunday. Conditions were near perfect.
Trent Mireles arrived at the event early Sunday morning for front row seats with seven family members. He is in his second year of taking his family to the Vectren Dayton Air Show and plans to make the vacation an annual event.
The group traveled from New Carlisle, Indiana, Thursday to make a half-week trip out of the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the Air Show. The aviation fan served in the Air Force for eight years and said he specifically looked forward to the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor. The rest of his family was there for the Blue Angels.
Air show officials won’t release attendance counts until this week, but an estimated 44,000 people attended the air show in 2017 and 51,000 attended in 2016.