While the sound of jet engines ripped through the air around Toledo Express Airport, 10-ton fighter planes did barrel rolls above a crowd of thousands, gliding through the air as agile as birds.
The Toledo Air Show’s weekend run that kicked off Saturday morning drew massive crowds from throughout the area for stunt plane demonstrations, fighter-jet flyovers, and a parachute team performance among other aeronautic attractions.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Air Show, Day 1
“I wanted to see how magnificent our Air Force is,” said Lori Allen, a show volunteer who took the opportunity to watch the fighter demonstrations. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
Saturday’s event, set against a backdrop of cloudy skies, included a surprise visit from a B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber. The radar-invisible aircraft, one of about 20 still flown by the Air Force, flew over Toledo Express three times after taking off from a base in Missouri.
When: Runs from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today
Where: Toledo Express Airport
Admission: Adult general admission is $30 online or $35 at the gate; admission for children 5 to 12 is $22 online or $26 at the gate; children 4 and under are free. Admission for senior citizens 65 and older, active and retired military and firstresponders (fire, police and EMS) is $10, both online and at the gate. Active military and firstresponders in uniform are admitted for free.
Parking: Free general admission parking, with free shuttle service, at Lot 1, located west of Toledo Express Airport on U.S. 20A. More parking is available at Lot 2, located north of Airport Highway, across from Toledo Express Airport.
For more information, go to www.toledoairshow.com.
And about 11 a.m., strongman Mark Kirsch set what he said was a world record for the longest tractor-trailer truck pull at 160 feet, exceeding the previous record by five feet.
Later in the show he also pulled an F-16 fighter plane, which he said was a first-ever achievement.
Stunt-plane aerobatics and military jet fly-bys were interspersed throughout the day, including F/A-18 Super Hornets traveling at twice the speed of sound and bombing demonstrations from F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Intermittent low clouds didn’t appear to affect the stunt pilots, but they were a nuisance for the Army Golden Knights parachute team, which cannot jump through clouds or from below 2,000 feet.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Birkner, a Golden Knights member, said the changing skies’ result was short notice to the paratroopers of when they would jump, because plans kept changing. Still, the team came out with trails of red smoke behind them and their black-and-gold parachutes decorating the sky.
While there were various thrills throughout the day, the headlining Thunderbirds were the main attraction for most attendees.
The special air demonstration squadron took off at about 3:30 p.m, flying its trademark diamond formation and doing tricks that put the planes within a wingspan of each other.
Dennis Reed, a spectator from Sylvania, said he had seen the Thunderbirds once before but was looking forward to seeing them again.
Nonetheless, he said he was impressed by the power the other fighter planes showed.
“It’s just great to see we have the support of our armed forces,” Mr. Reed said.
The Thunderbirds’ show had one minor glitch: One of the landing gear on the No. 4 “Slot” jet opened during flight, so that plane landed midway through the performance.
A statement from the Air Force said the plane would fly in today’s show.
Toledo Air Show spokesman Stacey Stathulis estimated Saturday’s attendance at 34,000 to 35,000.
He predicted a crowd of about 30,000 today.
The air show is Toledo’s first since 2004.
“We’ve been waiting for Toledo to have one,” said Andrew Brenot, a crew chief at the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing based at Toledo Express.
Mary Vas, who had last attended a local air show in 1998, said she hopes the event becomes an annual tradition — although in the past it was typically every two years.
“It was spectacular,” Mrs. Vas said. “We need to do this more often.”
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