Wichita Flight Festival offers pyrotechnics and planes

03/12/2014 11:43 PM

08/06/2014 9:48 AM

The annual Wichita Flight Festival scheduled for Saturday and Sept. 29 at Jabara Airport is a collection of entertainment that will allow fans of flight to relive the attack on Pearl Harbor, take a helicopter ride, feast on fried pickles and watch a jet-powered school bus hit speeds of 367 mph.

The event, which is put on by the city of Wichita, also will include a pilot who lands a plane on a platform strapped to the back of a moving pickup, a jet-powered Snoopy doghouse, a Kid’s Zone and a “Fly Market” vendor and education area.

“It’s the sound and the smoke and everything associated with aircraft that draws people to the show,” said Angela Cato, marketing director for the city’s Arts and Cultural Services. “And here in Wichita, we have a natural affinity for aircraft because of our status as the aviation capital.”

The event is expected to draw around 25,000 people over the two-day run, Cato said.

This year’s headliner is Texas-based Tora Tora Tora, which re-creates the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The show, complete with explosions, fire and smoke, is intended to wow as well as to educate and inform.

“It’s meant to be both a history lesson and a tribute,” Cato said.

The Tora Tora Tora show will be part of the free aerial performances scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 29. Gates to the festival are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, and when the planes aren’t flying, visitors can visit static aircraft displays, shop and eat at festival food vendor booths. They may also take helicopter rides, which cost $35 a person and are open to riders of all ages.

While most of the daytime events are free, there is a charge for the Saturday-night party from 6 to 10 p.m. It features a twilight airshow with Tora Tora Tora’s pyrotechnics lighting up the night sky and a performance by Eagles tribute band Hotel California. Tickets to that event are $10 for adults and free for children ages 11 and under when accompanied by a paying adult.

The festival has two additions this year, Cato said.

One is a new lapel pin, which is not required for entry but is intended as a souvenir of the event. The pins feature aircraft flying up into a colorful sky and are available at area QuikTrip stores or at wichitatix.com for $10.

Also, this year, attendees will be able to meet and chat with pilots after the airshow. From 3 to 3:30 p.m. on both days, pilots will gather at the sponsor tent and take questions from the crowd.

“When you see them in the air, they do become celebrities, and they’re so unique and wonderful that people want to talk with them,” Cato said. “Kids are in awe over them, and we know for a fact that our pilots love to interact with the crowd.”

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