Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow’s Golden Anniversary
By Maggie Caldwell
The Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow turns 50 this year, and is celebrating the “Golden Anniversary Celebration” October 10-12 at the Watsonville Municipal Airport with what promises to be the biggest and most spectacular air show to date.
Hank Wempe, president of the Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow Board, said, “We’ve put together the “Home Town Airshow at your Home Town Airport!” running over two days of activities – a show the whole family can enjoy.”
Some of the family-friendly happenings include tethered hot air balloon rides on Saturday and Sunday mornings when the wind is lighter, airplane and helicopter rides, acrobatic performances, food, music, and dancing. “In addition to skydiving and aerobatics, we’ve got an experimental formation flying team, vintage warplanes, and a returning military jet, the T-33 Shooting Star,” he said.
This annual celebration of all things aviation attracts pilots who display their aircraft from biplanes to P-51s and enthusiasts who sometimes also to fly in from other parts of the country just to be here.
Tom Daniel of St. Louis Missouri is one such enthusiast. He attends fly-ins and airshows all over the country and loves the Watsonville show the most. “It seems like California airplanes are maintained especially well, everything is clean and shiny,” he explains. “I’ve spent entire days sitting on a bale of hay with the gentle breeze from the sea, watching the airplanes in and out constantly, and dreaming my dreams.” He’s a particular fan of biplanes. “I love walking past the row of biplanes, reading their histories, and swooning over the engines. They’re absolutely magnificent – the radial engine with cylinders forming a perfect circle is an engineering marvel. Daniel, who earned his pilot’s license at age 62, admits much of the draw is “dreaming that I, too, might be able to fly one of them some day.”
There are more than biplanes and P-51s, though. This year, for the first time, attendees will have the chance to discover all the thrill and skill it takes to carry our Air Force missions on the Air Force Simulator Rapid Strike. It’s a unique opportunity to get a first-person point of view of what it’s like to make a C-17 cargo drop or a Reaper missile Col. Marcus Johnson, Air Force Recruiting Service’s Chief of Strategic Marketing Division, says, “The simulator will demonstrate why we have the world’s greatest Air Force, but it also illustrates that we succeed as a team.”
The aerobatic performances never fail to awe, and several popular performers are returning this year. Vicky Benzing is making her sixth appearance, but this time she’ll be flying her Boeing Stearman PT17 here for the first time. Dr. Frank Donnelly will perform “Old-Time Aerobatics” in his 1946 Taylorcraft. And in his Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, Greg Coyler of Acemaker returns to the Watsonville skies. In addition, the “Ferrari of the Skies” appears for the first time this year; it’s a Marchetti SF 260 flows by retired USAF Lt. Col Rich Perkins, a precision aerobatic pilot.
Also for the first time this year, local bands and bandas will be performing at Airshow intermissions. Look for music from area favorites Banda K-Fetal de la Sierra, Banda Yo Te Pido, Banda Toblal, and the No Respect Band. The Aztec Dancers Yaocuahutli are also scheduled to appear for the very first time at the Fly-In and Airshow.
Yaocuahutli Dance Culture, based in Salinas, was established in 2003 with the intention of teaching indigenous dances to future generations. Dancers are high-energy and fast-footed, the costumes are ornate and beaded, and they are sure to be a popular draw.
Friday is a bonus day for air show enthusiasts, when the Fly-In and Airshow kicks off during that day’s performer practice session. Admission for attendees is just one item of canned goods to benefit local food banks, and families can enjoy a special spaghetti dinner while watching the activities. And since it’s Kidz Friday, the annual Kidz Zone will be open for children aged 12 and under. Glen Ceresa, Board Director of Vendors, said there will be rides, an obstacle course, hamster ball, slide, bungee trampoline, and more. Then the night finishes off with a special under-the-stars -screening of the DisneyToonStudios’ hit movie “Planes.”
“Sponsored with our partner Bay Federal Credit Union, it’s a natural fit for the 50th anniversary celebration,” said Ceresa. “We welcome the opportunity to bring this instant classic to the Fly-in & Air Show.” Bay Federal Vice President Amy Ivey agrees, saying “It’s sure to be fun for everyone!”
The extravaganza rounds out with classic car parade and car show and a special Cop Car Race: Watsonville vs. Santa Cruz. Many different food vendors will be on hand – so come early and play all day.
The 2014 Watsonville Fly-In and Air Show takes place October 10 – 12 at the Watsonville Municipal Airport, located at 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville CA 95019. For more information or to buy advance tickets, visit their website at www.watsonvilleflyin.org, call 831-763-5600, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow is a California non-profit organization with a history of giving back to the local community.
Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow Schedule
Friday, October 10
- Kidz Zone opens 4:30 pm
- Performer Practice Session 5:00 pm
- Movie Night: Disney’s PLANES 7:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday, October 11 -12
- Fly-in Arrivals 7:00 am
- Early Bird Gate opens 8:00 am
- Balloon “Tethered Flights” 8:00 am
- Warbird/Helicopter Rides 8:00 am
- Morning Closure of Airspace 12 noon
- Opening Ceremonies! 12 noon
- Greg Colyer Acemaker Lockheed T-33 Jet 12:10 pm
- Vicki Benzing Aerosports 1940 Boeing Stearman 12:25 pm
- Dr. D’s Ole Time Aecrobatics 1946 Taylorcraft 12:40 pm
- West Coast Ravens Formation Flying Team 12:55 pm
- Rich Perkins Marchettii SF.260 1:15 pm
- Warbirds Fly-By 1:30 pm
- Field Reopens 1:50 pm
- Intermission 2:00 pm
- RC Bees Demonstration 2:00 pm
- Warbird/Helicopter Rides 2:00 pm
- Music and Música! 2:00 pm
- VIP Car Parade (Saturday) 2:20 pm
- Cops vs. Cops (Sunday) 2:00 pm
- Afternoon Closure of Airspace 3:00 pm
- Afternoon Show Begins! 3:00 pm
- Greg Colyer Acemaker Lockheed T-33 Jet 3:00 pm
- Vicki Benzing Aerosports 1940 Boeing Stearman 3:15 pm
- Dr. D’s Ole Time Aecrobatics 1946 Taylorcraft 3:30 pm
- West Coast Ravens Formation Flying Team 3:45 pm
- Rich Perkins Marchettii SF.260 4:05 pm
- Warbirds Fly-By (Andreini Tribute) 4:20
- Field Reopens 4:40 pm
- Fly-In Departures (Tower in Effect) 4:40
- Evening post Fly-in Air Show: Entertainment: Music and Música!