Blue Angels, great weather bring crowds to Dayton Air Show

Fans happy to see show, but strong attendance meant traffic challenges

Organizers won’t give attendance estimates until Monday, but the first day of the 2022 CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show appeared to be very well attended.

Ticket-holding spectators lined up well before 8 a.m. Saturday and continued to come in until about 3:30 p.m., minutes before the day’s final, window-shaking performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

One air show volunteer acknowledged the event was “very full.”

“You’re certainly welcome to say it was a well attended event,” said longtime show spokeswoman Shiela Wallace. But she declined to offer any attendance estimates.

Traffic troubles

The strong attendance likely contributed to lengthy traffic snarls on Interstate 75.

“My kid would have loved to see this instead of sitting in his car seat for 3+ hours in gridlocked traffic ... ,” Jana Eaton wrote on the show’s Facebook page Saturday.

“Traffic will likely be heavier than some recent shows,” the show’s Twitter account said at about 1:30 p.m. “Traffic is currently moving, but there is heavy turnout. Please give yourself time and expect slow moving traffic as you get to the lot.”

“Two hours in traffic and gave up, not even halfway there,” Twitter user David Kirschman replied. “This after paying in advance for tickets and parking. Total mess.”

Wallace referred questions about traffic to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. A patrol dispatcher said nobody was available to comment Saturday afternoon.

Blue Angels return to Dayton

The Blue Angels, the No. 1 attraction for many fans, began to perform about 3:45 p.m., the final flying act of the day.

The 48th annual show opened at 9 a.m. with clear skies and low humidity — conditions that were just about perfect for the event. A waiting line of spectators gathered on the east end of Dayton International Airport and steadily streamed in all morning.

“I am overcome with how wonderful the weather is,” marveled Nancy LaChance, who drove to the show from Lebanon, Mo., with her husband of 51 years, Dale.

Christopher and Nathan Plummer, from Missouri and Georgia respectively, were among the first waiting to enter. Christopher had driven nine hours to get to Dayton. He agreed that he’s willing to go the extra mile for a good air show.

“And this is a really good one,” he said. “It has a great reputation and the history of it.”

It was Jerry Conley’s first visit to the show. Conley is president of Vampire Aviation LLC, who was scheduled to fly what his business says is the world’s first single-engine jet fighter Saturday afternoon, the DH-115, dubbed by the British “the Vampire.”

“I’ve flown almost every major air show in the United States,” Conley said while fueling up on the flight line. “But this is family.”

“This is one of the biggest shows in the United States, if not the biggest show,” he added. “And so every pilot in the world wants to fly it.”

The first flying acts included the Army Golden Knights parachute team and fly-bys by F-15s, which could be seen and heard shortly before 1 p.m.

Jeff Deckman was among the early photographers admitted well before 7:30 a.m. to get photos before the crowds poured in. A photographer for, Deckman said he has attended more than 300 airshows, but this was his first time in Dayton.

“It’s very well organized and very well run,” he said. “The amount of static displays here and the amount of aircraft, I think are unmatched, more than any show I’ve been to this year or last year. It’s a great show if you want to see some unique aircraft from all over the country.”

Kettering resident Brian Crist was also among the early photographers. He said he has been going to the show “since day one.”

“I’ve never missed a show,” Crist said. “It’s local, it’s our home.”

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

“You don’t get to walk up to airplanes and look at them like this very often,” said Vandalia resident Dennis Mullins. “It’s kind of special and unusual to open the airport up and let everyone walk around.”

Asked what he was most looking forward to, Mullins said, “Oh, the Blue Angels. They’re just so much fun to watch.”

That seemed to be the consensus view.

“The Blue Angels, everyone can agree, are acting as the No. 1 pull for us,” said Troy resident Emily Gudakunst, who was at the show early with her husband Lane and their child.

Parking and admission

If you’re going Sunday, leave early and be patient, as traffic will likely be heavy. Organizers said tickets sold briskly this year.

General admission parking is now entirely on the east side of North Dixie Drive across from the air show’s entrance.

Be aware also that part of North Dixie Drive directly in front of the gateway will be blocked to give general admission patrons a safer walk to the entrance.

Chalet, Pavilion and Flight Line Hangar ticket holders with P-Lot parking passes will now park on the south side of the airport off West National Road. More than 30 shuttle buses will shuttle attendees to their chalets or pavilions, the show has said.

Handicap Parking, VIP Parking and C-Lot Parking lots have not changed.

General admission for parking is $15 per car and $25 for RVs, buses and other large vehicles.

Take Exit 64 Northwoods Blvd from I-75. Follow signs to appropriate lots. Stay in right lane.

More information on parking can be found

What to expect

On Sunday, the feature flying show will be held from noon to 4:15 p.m. But there will be plenty to see on the ground. A few of the ground-based “static displays” include the Air Force B-52 Stratofortress, F-15 and the Army CH-47F.

Acts and times are subject to change depending on weather or other factors.

This year, the Navy’s Blue Angels are the headline act. With their new F/A-18 Super Hornets, the Blue Angels can reach up to 700 mph and fly as close as 18 inches apart.

The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels alternate as the show’s crowning performance every other year.

The flying lineup

Flag Drop and National Anthem

U.S. Army Golden Knights

Kevin Coleman

U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo

Vampire Airshows

U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Kent Pietsch

USMC Fat Albert

U.S. Navy Blue Angels

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