By Lance Gurwell
Biplanes, bombers, jets and warbirds were part of “In Their Honor,” an air show held in Colorado Springs July 9-10. Thousands of people showed up to pay tribute to past and present members of the military.
The fifth annual show was held on runways and tarmac east of Colorado Springs Airport. The show opened each day when skydivers dropped in with a huge American flag. The Wings of Blue parachute team from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs delivered the flag on day one; the U.S. Army’s Green Beret jump team opened ceremonies on day two.
The event featured 15 aerial performances, and dozens of static displays drew long lines on the tarmac near the runway. The aerial acts featured military aircraft ranging from biplanes to the latest in America’s airborne warplanes, including flybys by F-16s and F-15s. Among the most impressive displays of American air superiority was an aerial display by the F-15 East Coast demonstration team from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
The F-15 team leader is Capt. Jason Costello, from Colorado Springs. He’s a veteran fighter pilot with more than 1,500 hours in the F-15, including 30 combat missions in the skies over Iraq. Spectators also enjoyed a jet car clocked at more than 320 mph in a short run, but warbird aerobatics proved to be the crowd favorite. One of the most popular was Don Nelson, flying his Sukhoi SU-26, said to be one of the best aerobatic aircraft in the world. It’s tested to plus/minus 23 G’s.
Event organizer John D. O’Donnell said the event got its start several years ago as a Veterans Day parade, and evolved into the two-day air show it is today.
“When Colorado Springs was going through base realignment about 10 years ago, the folks from the chamber of commerce came to me and asked me to put on some sort of event that showed support for our military and retired military here,” O’Donnell said. “Our local Veterans Day parade had died; we hadn’t had one in several years, so we put that back on the street. I had a friend that had a T-6, and I asked him if he could round up a couple more planes to do flyovers over the parade. The first year we had 11 planes in the air; they were a monster hit.”
Eventually, November’s inconsistent weather caught up with the flyover and pilots said they didn’t want to do it that time of year anymore. The November event was replaced with a couple of fly-ins, and three years ago it turned into a full-fledged air show, held in May. But the weather in that month also forced cancellation of the show two out of three years.
“That’s why you see us here in this July heat,” O’Donnell said.
The air show generated more than $10,000 for Special Olympics, as more than 30 20-member teams comprised of Special Olympic athletes and volunteers gave their all in towing a FedEx Boeing 727—that’s 73 tons in case you’re keeping track. Teams signed sponsors who agreed to make donations for the special event.
For more information, visit [http://www.csairshow.com].