Durant, Okla. — Take to the Skies AirFest takes off in a new location this year, Durant Regional Airport–Eaker Field (DUA), April 27.
Previously held just outside of Dallas, the move an hour north into Oklahoma offers some unique aspects, including cultural activities from the Choctaw Nation, according to Debby Standefer, president of the Take to the Skies AirFest.
“We are proud to honor our military during our show,” she added.
While the festival will commemorate those who have served and are serving in our military services throughout, opening ceremonies Saturday afternoon will include Choctaw dancers and singers, honor guards, flybys, skydivers and more.
Durant, known as the City of Magnolias, is is home to the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation and the Choctaw Casino and Resort. The airport boasts a new terminal and was named after General Ira Eaker, an aviation pioneer and war hero, she noted.
The event opens at 10 a.m. Saturday. Before and after the airshow there will be helicopters, airplanes, military aircraft, Commemorative Air Force, powered hang gliders and parachutes, skydivers, radio control aircraft and more, in static displays and demonstrations. Flights will be available throughout the day to the public in helicopters, airplanes, warbirds and biplanes. Tethered balloon rides will be available on Saturday evening. The Kids’ Area has a variety of attractions for different ages.
The airshow begins at 2 pm with a variety of airplanes performing dramatic flights and aerobatic performances. Mike “Spanky” Gallaway, announcer for the famous Red Bull Air Races and other prestigious events, will announce the show. The stars of the show are the Trojan Phlyers Demo Team (pictured below). Piloted by highly decorated combat veteran pilots performing precision close formation aerobatic routines demonstrating the cutting edge performance of the Trojan T28 warbird and the flying expertise acquired in formal military training, the Trojan Phlyers demonstrate high speed action with the roar of the big engines as they fly their historic aircraft. Jan Collmer, co-founder of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas and a veteran Navy fighter pilot, will fly his Extra 300L, organizers said, noting they are still adding airshow performers to the line-up.
“We are proud to include the Aerobatic Air Racing Challenge. Woman against Woman…Julia Wood faces Kate Kyer (both are airline captains),” Standefer said. “Man against Man, and here’s where the skill comes in…Husband against Wife…Julia against husband Tony Wood. And, they all perform solo aerobatics as well. The Trojan Phlyers will race their warbirds against each other in excess of 250 miles per hour. Teams of two will take to the skies in aerobatic maneuvers in a timed sequence.”
After the show, the performers will be available to meet the public and give autographs.
Saturday evening features the popular “Lite the Nite” balloon glow where Hot Air Balloons will stand inflated in static display. The balloons will perform twinkle burns, waves, all burns directed by our announcer. Weather permitting, this is the one time when spectators may be able to come up close to the balloons, talk to the pilots and see just how everything looks and works.
The AirFest looks forward to working with local services and organizations, Standefer noted. Non-profit organizations are invited to participate to raise awareness and funds.
“We will be looking for volunteers and groups to assist on show day and are now taking applications for food vendors, exhibitors, craft vendors and sponsors,” she said. “Sponsorship is invaluable to an event. It enables the event to grow in every way. The Take to the Skies AirFest relies on sponsorships so that we can keep this a very low cost event to the public and to continue to grow the show each year. We work with our sponsors to develop active integrated programs not only to promote the sponsor and assist them in achieving their marketing goals, but to create a positive experience on site for the public. The attendance this event garners not only locally, but from spectators throughout the state, Lake Texoma, North Texas and Dallas gives us the ability to market not only our sponsors but to showcase and promote our growing airport and the wonderful city of Durant while at the same time becoming an important revenue source for the city through lodging, retail and food sales in town through the weekend.”
Admission to the festival is $5 per person, with children under 6 free.
For more information: TakeToTheSkiesAirfest.com