Dayton Air Show has more things to do and see this year

‘It’s a celebration of aviation in the birthplace of aviation.’

As the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show marks its 50th anniversary, spectators can expect to see one of the largest ground displays in the country.

“It’s a celebration of aviation in the birthplace of aviation,” said Ken Kreitzer, media relations with the air show. “There’s just so much to see and do this year — more than any other year.”

Ground displays

With gates opening at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, he encourages spectators to come out early to see “the show before the show.”

There will be more than 200 aircraft on display for people to see up close and walk through. The pilots and air crews will be on site for questions.

One of the highlights will be the B-52 Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base. Kreitzer said the pilot and navigation officer are from the Dayton region.

Something new this year will be a F-18 cockpit on display for people to climb into and get their photo taken in for free. Kreitzer said other air shows typically charge for photos.

There will also be a plane from the German Air Force, the Airbus A400M “Atlas,” and a plethora of Vietnam-era aircraft and military equipment. Other displays on site will be STEM- or aviation-focused with opportunities for guests to learn more about NASA, the Army, Air Force or Marines.


Flying is expected to kick off around noon with the U.S. Army Golden Knights opening the show, Kreitzer said.

This year’s headliner are the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, known for their tightly choregraphed, high-energy demonstrations.

“There is no way to accurately describe the Blue Angels performance,” Kreitzer said. “It is breathtaking. It’s like dancing in the sky, it really is.”

The Blue Angels will fly as close as 18 inches apart and as fast as 700 mph. The pilots will be available for autographs after their performance.

Other fan-favorite performances include Tora! Tora! Tora!, a Pearl Harbor reenactment with pyrotechnics, and Rob Holland, a world renowned aerobatic pilot pushing the limits of what can be done in a MXS-RH.

There will also be a Heritage Flight where the USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team will team up with the P-51D Mustang “Jack’s Go-Buggy.” Kreitzer said the P-51 will fly as fast as it can, while the F-16 is flying as slow as it can.

The T-34 Association will not only perform in the show, but there could be upwards to 30 T-34s on display, Kreitzer said. The T-34 was a trainer aircraft for the Air Force.

“In our industry, Dayton is one of the premier shows,” Kreitzer said. “Everyone in the industry talks about you know you’ve made it in this business when you get invited to perform in Dayton.”

This year’s air show is expected to have four-and-a-half to five hours of flying acts.

“It’s a festival of flight,” Kreitzer said. “You don’t have to know about aviation to come to the air show because you can walk around and people will explain it to you through the different displays. But then, being able to watch the military acts and the civilian acts, you will see these folks do things with planes that you just didn’t think was possible.”

Other highlights

The Dayton Air Show is a family affair with pilots hoping to “ignite a passion for aviation” in the local youth.

From the fast, high-octane planes to the World War II-era aircraft, there will be something for everyone in the air and on the ground. Maverick and Iceman from Top Gun will be walking around and interacting with fans. There will also be helicopter rides for guests to book ahead or the day of.

For those needing a break from the sun, the kids’ hangar will have a variety of activities like face painting and crafts under a tent.

Don’t forget to check out the “incredible array” of food. There will be anything from mini donuts to cheesesteaks, hotdogs and hamburgers. There will also be vendors with aviation-themed t-shirts, hats and other collectibles.

“If you’ve never been to an air show, this is the one to see,” Kreitzer said.

General Admission tickets are $42 and can be purchased online or on site. Parking is included in the ticket price. Gates close at 6 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Other festivities leading up to the air show

Want to celebrate the air show early? The Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce Dayton Air Show Parade will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.

The route begins at St. Christopher’s parking lot (on U.S. 40 near I-75), travels west to the historic Crossroads of America, turns north on North Dixie and finishes at the Delphi plant on Northwoods Boulevard.

The parade is about two hours long with more than 100 nonprofits, marching bands, businesses and organizations participating. A fan-favorite are the Shriners with their mini bikes and small motor cars.

“We’re excited that the air show is coming,” said Rich Hopkins, communication manager with the City of Vandalia. “It’s technically in the City of Dayton with the airport, but folks of Vandalia are impacted by it. The folks in Vandalia love to lookout their backyard and watch the air show unfold.”

The Dayton Air Show Parade has become a family tradition for those living in Vandalia.

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