As spring settles in, everyone heads outdoors for their favorite sports and hobbies. For some, they feel the call of the ballpark. For others, they need to get some dirt under their fingernails getting the garden growing. For me, I feel a need – a need for speed! And yes, that’s an homage to Top Gun, because it’s air show season in Missouri!
First stop is an old friend – the Salute to Veterans Celebration and Airshow, May 27-28 at the Columbia Regional Airport. This free event is celebrating 29 years of honoring and remembering vets, and it’s much more than an air show. It’s a walking history lesson embellished with the smell of avgas and the roar of jet engines. Show highlights this year: a WWI JN4 Jenny, the WWII de Havilland Vampire Jet Aerobatic Demo, the Lockheed T33 “Shooting Star” aerobatic demo and the incredible Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Tac Demo Team. The show’s honored guests offer you an opportunity to meet – and thank – real military heroes. And who can resist a bunch of crazy soldiers jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? Especially when they’re some of America’s finest soldiers: the United States Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, the Black Daggers. I highly recommend catching the shuttles from Columbia and Jefferson City; it’s worth the small fee to be dropped right at the gate.
Another don’t-miss favorite is Wings Over Whiteman, June 10-11 in Warrensburg. Not only do you get the rare opportunity to see the breathtaking B-2 Spirit up close (am I the only one who hears the Batman theme in my head every time I see it?), but the amazing U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team will be performing as well. Keep in mind that this air show takes place on an active military base, so check their website for restrictions for entry before you go. They will be searching all bags and persons entering the gate.
The Commemorative Air Force is showing up in style at the 2017 Jesse James Outlaw Airshow June 24-25 at the Midwest national Air Center in Excelsior Springs. They’ll be featuring two mid-1940s aircraft: the B25J Mitchell named “Show Me” and a TBM-3E Avenger and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team will perform. Free shuttle parking will available.
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team also will be a headliner for the Greatest Little Air Show in Tarkio on July 8, but the show will also be featuring a graceful aerobatic display by the Vultee BT-13 Valiant, set to WWI Air Force pilot songs. Admission is $10, with children five and younger, free.
If you’re less into hearing the roar of jet engines than just celebrating flight, give the Bonne Terre Aire Festival a try. This family-friendly event Aug. 19-21 offers airplane rides, a hot air balloon glow, radio-controlled airplane shows, a space museum, vendors, and this year only – a total eclipse of the sun!
You’re in for a thrill at the second annual Alpha Air Fest 2017, Sep. 9-10 at the Joplin Regional Airport. Be mesmerized by the daredevilry of Greg Shelton and Ashley Key Wingwalking. Not many of us are daring enough for that stroll, but we can keep our own feet firmly on the ground while enjoying such offerings as Matt Younkin’s Beech 18 performance. This plane wasn’t designed for aerobatics, but that doesn’t hold it back!
Finish out your air show season Sep. 23 with a visit to Camdenton for the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show. The KC Flight Formation Team – Kansas City’s largest home grown civilian formation team – is scheduled to perform, as is Brian Correll in his modified Pitts S2S biplane. Back on earth, thrill to Kenny Carroll racing the aerobatic planes in his Josh Franklin Motorsports-prepared 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Admission is free.
You may not ever get the chance to go Mach 2 with your hair on fire, but I guarantee a trip to a Missouri air show this year will make your heart soar. Enjoy the flight!