This year’s return of the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show was made possible by easing pandemic regulations and with the cooperation of the weather. But it was also made possible by more than 2,000 volunteers.
The red shirted volunteers kept the second day of the “greatest show” running smoothly Sunday, directing traffic, selling programs, working concession stands, and keeping things running smoothly.
The pandemic cancelled the event last year, and the thousands of attendees grateful for the event’s return underlined why the aviation celebration drew a small army of community members to lend their time.
“The show could not happen without those 2,000 people,” said Ken Kreitzer, who volunteers on the media committee. “Maybe a family member is in the Air Force or maybe someone has always had a love for aviation an they want to share that passion.”
Kreitzer highlighted that announcer Rob Reider started as a volunteer and has gone on to make a career out of air shows. Also, Beavercreek High School graduate Maj. Kyle Oliver of Beavercreek, pilot one of the Thunderbird jets, had said his early interest dates back to his childhood time at the show.
“The coolest thing is seeing young kids interacting and seeing the show,” Kreitzer said.
The Dayton Air Show runs rain or shine and this year several scattered bursts sent spectators for their tents and umbrellas. But the majority of the time the event stayed raindrop free, and the clouds even provided a rare shady day at an event often marked by sunburn and squinting.
With the low cloud ceiling, the US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team had to cancel its demonstration and flights were briefly paused at one point. However, the show went on after a short break starting with the giant C-17 — 580,000 lbs. fully loaded and sometimes affectionally called “the moose.”
The Thunderbirds, known as America’s “ambassadors in blue,” headlined with six General Dynamic F-16 Fighting Falcons.
One of the pilots Jacquie Warda became a solo aerobatic career after a career shift when she turned 50, and now flies a one-of-a-kind Pitts Special biplane.
“If I can do what I do at my age, anyone can do what they want to do,” she said.
Speaking next to her plane before the start of the day’s demonstrations, Warda said “Dayton is a fabulous town.”
“They take very good care of us. It’s very aviation friendly,” Warda said.
Besides the demonstration show, there are also vendors, food, and other air craft parked for visitors to get up close or tour through.
Mark Harris, who had served in the Air Force, said he had been to the show before years ago and the static planes were part of why he came to the event.
“I have a big fascination with the air craft,” Harris said.
Father and daughter Audrey and Pat Galloway of Mason were among the fans today enjoying the last day of the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show.
Both had been before and were excited to be back with everything open after last year’s cancellation.
“The high precision flying, it’s really amazing,” Pat said.
Pat had been pointing out different facts about the airplanes parked for visitors to explore up close, and Audrey said when up at the Air Force Museum with the high school band she could tell her friends about the planes from all the facts she’s picked up over the years.
“From him and my uncle, I know a lot. They don’t think I listen, but I do,” she said.
Last year the show had been cancelled during the pandemic.
This year, organizers had originally thought they’d need to scale down to a “drive-in” style tailgate, but after COVID-19 numbers improved and the state ended restrictions, the event leaders quickly turned around plans for a full celebration of aviation.
This was the second day of the show, following a successful Saturday that welcomed a crowd of returning spectators. A final turnout count will be available Monday.
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