After an absence of probably five years, a flyover by a McConnell Air Force Base plane will be part of Riverfest this year, weather permitting.
A KC-135 from McConnell Air Force Base will fly over just as the Wichita Symphony Orchestra finishes playing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the Twilight Pops Concert on the opening Friday night of Riverfest – at 8:38 p.m., said festival president Mary Beth Jarvis.
In case of bad weather that sends the orchestra indoors for the concert, the tanker will buzz the beginning of the Sundown Parade earlier in the evening, at 6:30, Jarvis said.
The effects of sequestration would have prevented a flyover in 2013 and 2014, said 2nd Lt. Krystal Jimenez, media chief at McConnell. She did not know when the last flyover had taken place.
“But now we’re able, and we’re excited we’re going to have a Stratotanker for Riverfest, as long as the weather cooperates,” Jimenez said.
The return of the flyover is appreciated, Jarvis said.
“When we talk to folks about what they want to see back, it’s definitely in those first couple things they name, so we’re glad to satisfy,” she said.
The KC-135 refueling tanker will fly in from the south and come up the river, making a 90-degree turn as it nears Kennedy Plaza and then head east and climb, Jarvis said.
Col. Albert Miller, who was appointed commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell in February, will make his first community-wide appearance in Wichita right after the flyover, on the Kennedy Plaza stage, Jarvis said.
If the flyover takes place at the beginning of the parade instead, the tanker will come in from the west and head east up Douglas at the show center of the parade, near Kennedy Plaza just west of Main Street.
Apart from the flyover, the festival will have a “Salute to Aviation” with several aircraft-themed events on the second Friday of the fest, June 5.
Festivalgoers will be able to check out airplanes and models of airplanes on the ground and sit in a cockpit simulator, and kids will be able to make paper airplanes and try to hit a target.
Local plane enthusiasts will fly over the festival in a variety of airplanes that day, and an exhibition of radio-controlled aircraft will take place indoors.
“All the STEM projects will be related to aviation and the science behind aviation” that day, from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Cox Kids Corner on the Hyatt lawn, said Ann Keefer of the festival. “We’ll have hot-air balloons that day as well at WaterWalk.”
During Fly Like an Eagle, people can spend a few minutes in a simulator of a B-52 and an F-4 fighter. Nearby, the Kansas Aviation Museum will have a 1930s-era Skylark and a Cessna Skyhawk, and Textron will have a Bonanza on display for Planes on the Plaza. A variety of airplanes will fly in sometime in late afternoon or early evening, coming up the river from the south and turning east at Douglas, Jarvis said. Spirit, Learjet and Textron will have displays including large models of aircraft and company information, and Learjet will have merchandise for sale.
The Rosie the Riveter Look-a-Like Contest will return, with two categories this year.
“We had to start a second category because we had so many competitors last year,” Keefer said. There will be categories for ages 12 and under and 13 and above.
Salute to Aviation events
Some of the aviation-related events taking place on June 5:
Fly Like an Eagle: Spend a few minutes in a simulator of a B-52 and an F-4 fighter. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Douglas near Water Street
Planes on the Plaza: Airplanes on display, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Douglas near Water Street
Fancyfoam Indoor Fly-In: Exhibition of radio-controlled aircraft. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Exhibition Hall in Century II
Spirit, Learjet, Textron displays: 3 to 7 p.m., Exhibition Hall
Aviation photographer Paul Bowen: Display of his photography from 3 to 7 p.m. in Exhibition Hall of Century II
Paper Airplane Drop: Kids ages 5 to 17 can make paper airplanes and try to land them on a target for $100. 6 to 7 p.m. inside Century II
Rosie the Riveter Look-a-Like Contest: 7 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage in front of Century II. Contestants can register in person from 5 to 6:45 p.m. at the stage before the event.
Largest Human Airplane: A world-record attempt for World’s Largest Human Airplane will be at 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Wing-eating contest: The first 12 qualified people to register will compete for prizes. 7 p.m., Sparkling Ice Food Court Stage