Air Show thrills record crowds
Last updated 8/30/2022 at Noon
Sisters Country folk in numbers headed northeast Friday and Saturday, making the 50-minute journey to the air festival in Madras, more commonly known as Air Show of the Cascades. Among them were three generations of Johnsons — Jace, age 6, Lia, age 8, dad, Gunnar, and Grandpa Andy.
“We are having an amazing time,” Gunnar said as he hoisted the kiddos into an Army helicopter.
Andy was delighted to have a “boys’ day out,” adding: “This is something all of us like, nobody having to be talked into coming.” And did they come.
Friday night saw three times as many patrons as 2021, and Saturday, a picture-perfect day in the mid 70s, required acres of parking to accommodate the spectators who hailed from a dozen states, as far away as New York.
Joe Krenowicz, executive director for the Madras Chamber of Commerce, knew by Thursday that it was going to be a barn burner. Advance ticket sales set off alarm bells as organizers scrambled to find 10 more port-a-potties only to realize they’d need yet 10 more as sales kept ringing.
Naturally, aircraft were the centerpiece of the two-day affair. A large cadre of airplanes were on the ground and in the air. Pilots from several nearby states flew in to kick things off. Their planes were a mixture of vintage models, aerobatic models, warplanes, gliders, choppers, and helicopters.
The Buckleys from Black Butte Ranch came with five grandchildren. Grandpa Dale was a little bit frazzled by 2 p.m., as each child — all teens — had his or her own idea of what they wanted to see next. The options were endless.
The Nugget had a bird’s-eye view of the event as an onboard guest of the crowd-favorite Golden Knights, one of only three Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, along with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The precision unit made three jumps, to the thrill of the onlookers gazing into a crystal-blue sky.
For those needing an adrenaline rush, the Airshow had you covered. But many needed to cover their ears. The Navy aircraft, the F-18 Growler, is a prominent aircraft in the recently released “Top Gun: Maverick” movie, and was in this year’s lineup both days. A pair started their routine at 600 mph, 100 feet over the runway.
The car show stretched two football fields and featured pristine restorations dating nine decades. Nostalgia ruled the scene. People recollected their first experience with the perfect specimens in front of them, wanting to touch but knowing better.
RVs that were there for multiple days had prime spots lined up like dominoes facing the taxiway with unobstructed views. There were 100 or more in a partylike atmosphere that included front-row seats to the Friday night firework extravaganza as well as being within earshot of the live music events.
Renny Price is a larger than life character who is beloved throughout the airshow world as much for his one-of-a-kind personality as he is for his aggressive aerobatic routines. Flying the legendary Russian Sukhoi-29, Price is known as one of the world’s greatest aerobatic pilots. His maneuvers had the audience gasping.
The festival-like atmosphere was a food court bonanza from simple hot dogs and pizza to “walking tacos” to smoked barbecue and fried ravioli, the latter a first for Bucky Cummings of Cloverdale.
A crop duster earlier in his ranching career, he normally has poutine, which reminds him of his youth in Alberta.
“I think I’ll stick with the poutine,” he said as he raced off to catch the A-10 Warthog demonstration, a major and somewhat last-minute addition to the jam-packed lineup.
There were steady lines for rides on a number of craft, including the B-17, a Leading Edge helicopter, and a High Desert soaring glider. Mostly, spectators were struck by the intimacy of the event, being able to walk right up and touch the aircraft or in many instances sit in the cockpit. The Johnsons were grateful for the up-close, first-hand look crews provided, and how pilots talked with children, never rushed, always patient.
Many wandered for hours at the permanent Erickson Aircraft Collection, displaying a vintage aircraft assemblage. The portfolio features more than 20 rare aircraft, most of which are still in flying condition. The Collection features rare aircraft, such as the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, Grumman Duck, and B-17 Flying Fortress.
The Erickson Aircraft Collection is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Monday. The Collection is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Sunday.