VANDALIA — Organizers of the Vectren Dayton Air Show were thrilled with all things air show on Monday, the day after the 44th annual event wrapped up at Dayton International Airport. With the Blue Angels spectacular performance and near perfect weather, attendance soared to an estimated 62,000 or more.
Vandalia’s Scott Buchanan, who is serving his first year as Chairman of the United States Air And Trade Show, Inc., the show’s producer, said this year’s show exceeded his expectations.
“This is the best show we’ve had since 2012 or 2013 by the numbers, the weather was great, attendance was good, and there were lots of smiling faces,” he said. “I think it went off very well.”
While the Blue Angels were the headline performers, the show had an impressive lineup that include Living Legend of Flight Sean D. Tucker, the B-17 Movie Memphis Belle, John Klatt in the Screamin Sasquatch Jet Waco, the P-51C Red Tail flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, and Vicky Benzing. All of that is in addition to the largest static display of aircraft since federal sequestration began in 2013.
“We had a really impressive ground display, the best since sequestration, so I think that helped,” said Buchanan. “Having Orbis and Samaritan’s Purse, the two non-profits, and letting people go on those aircraft and hear about their missions was pretty neat. One of those planes had over 4,000 go through their plane on Saturday and I’m guessing they exceeded that on Sunday.”
Buchanan said the smiling faces, including Friday’s SOAR event and Special Wish kids was especially rewarding. He also learned just how much coordination and cooperation it takes from several entities to pull off what is one of North America’s premiere air shows.
“It’s really a team effort between the operations team, volunteers, the airport, City of Vandalia, and the City of Dayton,” he said. “It really blows my mind that in two days they can turn that tarmac into a full-blown air show the quality we have.”
When asked what was his favorite part of the show, Buchanan didn’t mention a plane or a performer. He came back to the smiles.
“Driving down show center between acts and seeing the children leaning up against the fence or holding on to look over top, or sitting on dad’s shoulders, that to me is what makes it all worth it,” he said. “Another thing is the different acts like Sean Tucker, the Raptor pilot, the Blue Angels being willing to come out and interact with the crowd when they are done flying. It’s really neat to see the smiles on the kids faces to meet these guys. Some of those kids may be pilots one day, and to see all that coming together in front of you gives me chills even now just thinking about it.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.