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Jet-powered bus among top attractions at McConnell air show

Zach and Austin Sigler of Humboldt were disappointed Saturday when a thunderstorm forced the cancellation of the Thunderbirds performance at the McConnell Air Force Base open house.

"That was the main attraction and it didn't happen," said Austin, 12.

But Zach, 10, said there were plenty of other sights at the show, which continues Sunday.

"My favorite was the school bus," he said. "There was a school bus with a jet engine in the back, and 'whoosh!'"

The school bus went 300 mph but stayed on the ground.

This weekend's show is the first at McConnell since 2007, and as many as 150,000 people were expected to attend.

The Saturday evening air show went on as scheduled, and the Thunderbirds were scheduled to fly Sunday afternoon.

Among those attending Saturday were Andrew Nicholson and Drew Duncan, two 13-year-old Stucky Middle School students who could name every aircraft on display.

They each had a favorite part of the show.

"Watching the F-16s doing sneak passes," Andrew said. "That's where they fly up behind you and scare you."

"I'd say the best thing I saw was probably the B-1 flyover," Drew said. "And the different planes that we can go inside."

Norris and Jayne Peterson drove down from Solomon for the show. Jayne Peterson said she is retired from the Air Force and is naturally drawn to air shows. She said she didn't have to talk her husband into attending.

"I love it," Norris Peterson said. "It's really awesome."

Dalen Ziesch of Goddard attended the show with his wife and three children, ages 5, 4 and 3 months.

"It's great," he said. "I haven't been out to McConnell for 20 years."

His 5-year-old son, Will, said the highlight of the afternoon was the jet-powered school bus.

The skies over McConnell were sunny for most of the afternoon, but clouds began to roll in as the Thunderbirds were warming up their F-16s.

The announcement that the show had been canceled sent most people heading for the exits.

But Zach and Austin Sigler weren't ready to head back to Humboldt. Their parents, Jared and Stacie Sigler, said they wouldn't make the 21/2-hour drive again in the hopes of seeing the Thunderbirds on Sunday.

Jared Sigler said his sons seemed to enjoy the rest of the show, particularly the time they spent exploring a tank.

"He got in the driver's seat," he said, nodding to Zach. "And he manned the gun. I had my own little army here."

Zach and Austin wasted no time deciding what they planed to do next.

"Let's go back to the tank," Zach told his brother. "This time you can drive."

If you go>

to the McConnell open house and air show

What: An open house featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, aerial acts, static displays, vendors

Where: McConnell Air Force Base

When: Gates open at 10 a.m. Sunday. Opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Aerial demonstrations begin around 11:30 a.m.

How much: Free

For more information: Go to www.mcconnell.af.mil or call 316-759-3141.

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