News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Airshow of the Cascades landing soon

"Why do they insist on calling it an air show?" Those are the words of Don Riordan of Sisters as he mused about the upcoming annual event in Madras. When The Nugget asked Riordan what he would call it instead, he stroked his chin a bit and pondered.

"Gosh, not sure," he said. "Maybe extravaganza. Maybe festival. It's a heckuva lot more than airplanes," he said.

And in looking at the lineup for the two-day affair, Friday, August 25 and Saturday, August 26 at the Madras Municipal Airport, Riordan's point was made: music, fireworks, food, Kid Zone, cars and trucks (lots of those – vintage, classic or antique), motorcycle stunt team, ROTC Marine Drill Team, and, oh yes, an air show on Thursday, August 24.

Turns out Riordan is somewhat prophetic, as Airshow of The Cascades is now the Airshow of The Cascades Festival. It's a not-so-subtle change to reflect the expansive offering of family entertainment attended by dozens of Sisters Country families and thousands of visitors from some 10 states.

Riordan, new to Sisters from Corvallis, will be making his eighth or ninth Show. This time he won't be camping at the showgrounds, now that he's so close. About 200 campers, from tent campers to luxurious, 45-foot RVs, will turn their attendance into one big, two-day-plus party.

It all fires up Thursday at 5:30 p.m. with the kick-off party. Then there's the afterparty from 8 to 11 p.m. Did we mention party? This is when sponsors, dignitaries, and volunteers gather for celebration and last-minute marching orders.

The Show opens to the public at 2 p.m. Friday, by which time about 200 cars and trucks will have been marshalled into position for the Les Schwab Car Show. At the same time the Hot Box opens and the food vendors rev up their menus.

Music cranks up at 3 p.m. on the South Stage with the US 56th Army Rock Band. No John Philip Souza from this outfit. The 30-minute Metal Mulisha Motorcycle Stunt Show starts at 4 p.m.

It's from 5:30 to 7 p.m. when the fish-and-chips dinner gets rustled up for the lucky first 1,000 persons. It always sells out.

Metal Mulisha makes a return from 6 to 6:30 p.m. before the crowds settle in for the aerobatic performances against the background of Mt. Jefferson. Sammy Mason will thrill spectators - many left gasping - with his loops, dives, spins, corkscrews, and overall wizardry.

Manfred Radius, a top air show performer who ushered in a new era in sailplane demonstrations, will alight the sky with his Pyro Glider. Most of Friday's spectators will stick around for the Pacific Power fireworks display set to music. The sky lights up in celestial splendor as young and old guffaw, craning necks and trying to guess where and what the next boom and dazzle will bring.

And it's not only Friday. Saturday is even bigger: more music including Whiskey Bandits on the North Stage, and more food. The car show opens at 9 a.m. and runs to 4:30 p.m.

More aero thrills, from pulse-raising aerobatics to sport air racing - a heart-pounding experience. And more of Metal Mulisha.

There's the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, Redmond High School Drill Team, and a performance by Ace Maker Aviation in a T-33 Shooting Star, America's first jet fighter, and a training craft for thousands of military pilots.

Visitors can hitch a ride with Specialized Aero Works and experience many of the maneuvers seen at the Show.

Not all planes will be in the air. The iconic Black Hawk helicopter will be on ground display, welcoming guests for up-close and personal inspection of the famed craft.

The Show shares space with the permanent exhibit of the Erickson Aircraft Collection, an indoor history museum of venerable World War II military airplanes. Open everyday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Monday, it is a special place for aviation, military, and history buffs.

It's a perfect place to cool off from the August heat and high-energy show. Two of its planes - an F4U Corsair and an AD-4 Skyraider - were included in the making of last year's highly regarded and attended movie "Devotion."

Tickets can be ordered ahead of time at or take your chances that some may be left at the showgrounds.

For more information, visit for a full schedule and list of performers.


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