Wild West Air Fest takes flight in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Wild West Air Fest takes flight in Steamboat

Be on the lookout for the Rocky Mountain Renegades formation team during Saturday’s Wild West Air Fest.
Steve Nelson/courtesy
If you go What: 13th annual Wild West Air Fest and fourth annual Air Show When: Gates open at 9 a.m., and the air show starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 Where: Bob Adams Airport, 3495 Airport Circle Tickets: $10 for adults per day; $5 for youth age 6 to 12; and free for children age 5 and younger  

The 2017 Highlights:

New this year…
  • The RE/MAX skydiving team will open the show. Members will jump in the American flag as our Civil Air Patrol cadets present the colors and the National Anthem is sung.
  • Rides for the public will be available Friday and Sunday in the WWII Navy Torpedo Bomber TBM Avenger, as well as the T-6, CAF Beech 18, and the Piper J-3 Cub. For pricing and reservations visit wildwestairfest.com.
  • Search and Rescue demonstration by Classic Air Medical’s helicopter team, along with the local Search and Rescue team.
  • Be a fighter pilot — Dream Big Entertainment will bring its fighter jet cockpit this year for people to dress in a flight suit, helmet and sit in a real fighter jet cockpit.
  • Rocky Mountain Renegades formation team.
  • International aerobatic champion Dagmar Kress.
  • Barry Hancock, who will perform in his yellow historic WWII T-6 Warbird.
  • WWII Navy TBM Avenger will perform a simulated bombing raid.
Know before you go
  • Flight line seating is available in limited quantity.
  • Food, vendors, children's activities and static aircraft will be available all day.
  • Be sure to bring sunscreen.
  • Leave pets at home.
  • There will be no parking at the event site. Parking will be available at the Stockbridge Transit Center (1505 Lincoln Ave.) and The Routt County Combined Court (1955 Shield Drive), with city buses running to and from the event.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Imagine a little boy or girl standing in the yard and pointing to the sky as the roar of an engine breaks through the clouds; suddenly, an aircraft emerges, executing a perfect loop-de-loop with ease.

“To have that child look up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom! I want to do that one day,’” said Debby Standefer, airshow director for Wild West Air Fest. “There’s something magical about flight, and I want to bring that to people, to instill that wonder and awe in kids of all ages about aviation.”

This weekend, the roar of engines from aviation relics to agile aerobatic biplanes will resound through the Yampa Valley, as the 13th annual Wild West Air Fest and fourth annual Air Show takes off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bob Adams Airport.

No pets are allowed, and there will be no parking at the event site. Parking will be available at the Stockbridge Transit Center, where attendees can catch a free shuttle to the airport.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a big WWII plane or a little Cessna, an air show like this, it’s just a magical thing to witness,” Standefer said. “This is the only air show of its kind in the mountain communities, and people come not only from Steamboat, but also from Denver (and) throughout the mountain communities, all the way to Grand Junction.”

As the festival enters its 13th year and the air show, its fourth, there will be a few new relics and faces to keep an eye on.

Most notably, leaping from a plane at 4,500 feet into 120 mph free falls, The RE/MAX Skydiving Team will land in Steamboat Springs for the first time this weekend.

“First of all, it’s an incredible adrenaline rush to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and it’s a tremendous amount of fun,” said Al Saylor, lead for the RE/MAX Skydiving Team. “When you open that door of an aircraft flying at 90 mph, it’s pretty cold — about 4 degrees colder per thousand feet as you go to altitude — it’s windy, cold and loud because the engines don’t have mufflers.”

“It’s really exciting right when you open the door before stepping out to that free fall at 120 mph,” Saylor, who has been skydiving since 1990, added. “When you put your head down, you can actually go at speeds of 200 mph and, if you move your arms and legs around, fly (your) body around the sky or do front flips, back flips, summersaults – anything you want.”

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the team of three will open the Air Show and land carrying the American flag as the national anthem is sung.

“There’s no greater honor than jumping into an event carrying the American flag as the National Anthem is playing,” Saylor said. “We are proud to do that on behalf of our country and for those who’ve served our nation.”

Also planned for this year’s event, a WWII Navy Torpedo Bomber TBM Avenger – similar to the model former President George H.W. Bush flew – returns and will perform a simulated bombing raid for the public. According to Standefer, only 14 of these iconic planes are still flying in the United States.

Along with the air show, rides in historic aircraft will be offered to the public for the first time in four years.

Returning this year will be the Rocky Mountain Renegades formation team, one of the largest civilian formation teams in the country. With planes members built themselves, the group of composed primarily of commercial airline pilots, who will perform an aerobatic show of precision and grace.

“In this electronic age, we worry that the younger generation doesn’t have that fascination with aviation like we had as kids,”said Jim Gray, lead of the Rocky Mountain Renegades. “We hope to promote that and that they, too, might fall in love with aviation like we did.” 

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.

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