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Columbus Air Show returns this weekend

A member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flies overhead during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Thunderbirds will be performing at this weekend's Columbus Air Show.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
/
AP
A member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flies overhead during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Thunderbirds will be performing at this weekend's Columbus Air Show.

The Columbus Air Show returns to Rickenbacker Airport June 14 through June 16.

Ohio is considered the "Birthplace of Aviation," and the capital city is celebrating the past and present of flying with on-the-ground and aerial displays.

Last June, the Rickenbacker Airport hosted its first air show since 2007, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Herb Gillen, the air show’s producer, said the community came out in force, with over 52,000 tickets sold.

“It was a huge success,” Gillen said. “We did a survey after the event with our guests, and the overwhelming response was we want this to be an every year show.”

This year’s show will be headlined by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, making their first appearance in Columbus since 2007. They’ll take to the skies in their signature red, white, and blue F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrafts.

“They get as close as 18 inches of separation from wingtip to wingtip,” Gillen said. “And they'll fly at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. These pilots and crewmen are the best of the best in the Air Force. The precision and the power that they display, you just really have to be there to see it and experience it.”

Gates are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the performers will be the same for all three days of the event.

The morning will showcase the Columbus Cup STOL Drag, in which two planes race along a straight 2,000-foot course, land, complete a 180-degree turn and then race back to the starting line. The Pilots will compete in preliminary rounds on Friday and Saturday, with the championship rounds scheduled for Sunday.

The opening ceremonies will occur at 11:30 a.m., with the bulk of performances occurring between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. In addition to the Thunderbirds, guests can look forward to seeing the F-35A Lightning II from Eglin Air Force Base and the U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Team, among others.

In addition to the entertainment in the air, Gillen says there will be plenty to see on the ground. A variety of modern military, warbirds, and civilian aircrafts will be on display, as well as a Top Gun themed F-18, with Maverick and Iceman impersonators.

“There are several dozen aircraft that are going to be on the ground that people can go up, and in some cases, walk through,” said Gillen. “You can talk to the crew and get your picture with the airplanes.

Gillen expects a crowd of around 50,000 for this year’s show. Click here for tickets and more information.

“Air shows are great family entertainment,” Gillen said. “I mean, you just can't get more bang for your buck to see world-class performers like this.”

Emmet is a reporting intern at WOSU 89.7 for the summer of 2024.