Everyone knows that traveling somewhere and being let down absolutely RUINS the entire trip. Vacations are built around the anticipation of finally arriving and being ecstatic and reassured you chose the right place for your vacation to be spent.
You may have taken time off from work months ago to finally get to go on that vacation, only to be let down upon arrival.
Today we are here to help you avoid that situation by giving you a great list of air shows that will keep the entire family entertained. Some, you have most likely heard of before because they are the main events for any GA fan during the year (cough, cough… Oshkosh), but others you might not know of yet.
If you’ve not heard of this event yet, you can go ahead and come out from your cave; it’s nice out here!
Oshkosh is the event all GA fans wait for every year. This event showcases anything and everything in the aviation world. As described on their website, “For seven days from sunrise to well past sunset, your Oshkosh day is filled with dazzling displays of aerobatics, informative programs, hands-on workshops, and diverse aircraft spanning all eras of flight. This event typically features great concerts, as well, to “keep you rockin’ into the night”.
In 2015 they are featuring such major draws as the Goodyear Airship Wingfoot One, F-22 demos, Airbus A350 XWB, a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress, an F-35 Lightning II, and numerous other incredible aircrafts.
2. Sun ‘n Fun: Lakeland, Florida
Sun ‘n Fun is an awesome event that has been going on since 1992. This air show is one of the best in the world. Their mission is “to bring a brighter future through aviation”, which seems to be a mission we could all get behind!
Air shows like this one are especially enjoyable because they are solely focused on raising money for a great cause, the education of students. Sun ‘n Fun is packed with numerous activities offered to the public as well as one of the largest aviation tradeshows in the world (more than 500 commercial exhibitors).
The major jewel that Sun ‘n Fun prides themselves on is their aviation museum. This museum features numerous aircrafts including one-of-a-kind designs, classics, ultra-lights, antiques and war birds.
3. Arlington Fly-In: Arlington, Washington
The Arlington air show is known as one of the premier western recreational aviation events of the year. The entire goal of this event is to share the joy of flight; how awesome is that?
In 1969 this air show began as a one day fly-in and spaghetti feed. It has now grown to become one of the West’s most popular sport aviation events. This event has something for every person in your family such as hot air balloons, radio controlled flying, and Bi-Plane rides.
Over 1,000 aircraft and 55,000 guests enjoy this air show. These guests are visiting the hands-on workshops, watching the aerobatic performances, attending educational forums, and judging numerous aircraft competitions.
4. Reno Air Races: Reno, Nevada
The opening line of the Reno Air Race “about” section will have you immediately hooked: “The Reno Air Racing Association’s mission is to perpetuate the most unique air racing event and aviation experience in the world by combining the world’s fastest motor sport with spectacular military and civilian air entertainment.” SIGN ME UP!
This air show carries on the tradition of the Cleveland Air Races of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Started over 47 years ago in Reno by Bill Stead, this event is stronger than ever.
For one week, the desert north of Reno becomes home to hundreds of aircraft. In the past 10 years alone, this event has attracted almost a quarter of a million spectators and generated over $80 million a year. The events are broken up into six categories which include a large display of static aircraft and several military and civil flight demonstrations.
5. Chicago Air & Water Show: Chicago, Illinois
Held on the beautiful Lake Michigan, this air show has been going on since 1959 and is Chicago’s second most popular festival. This air show is a free event that showcases aerobatic pilots, parachute teams, and numerous formation flights. Also included in the show are water skiing and boat stunts.
This air show is the largest of its kind in the United States; millions of people attend this event every year!
6. Golden West Regional Fly-In & Air Show: Olivehurst California
Founded in 1997, this air show is a bit newer than the previously mentioned ones. Put on by a group of volunteers that helps promote aviation education and safety, the Golden West Air Show offers a great show for visitors.
Not nearly the size of some of the other air shows we have mentioned, this event still offers a great deal of fun. Events include a pancake breakfast and food vendors, aircraft displays and exhibits, RC aircraft flying and a brand new “drone zone”, and numerous hands on activities for kids.
Another great event they offer is EAA Young Eagle’s flights for the kids ages 8-17.
7. The Vectren Dayton Air Show: Dayton, Ohio
One of America’s leading air shows, the Vectren Dayton Air Show is a solid event every single year. In 2015 the headliner was the always incredible, world-renowned United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Also included in the 2015 shows was the Breitling Jet Team, a U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet Strike fighter, the U.S. Army Golden Knights, a U.S. Coast Guard H-65 Dolphin helicopter, and aerobatics by Sean D. Tucker.
BONUS TIP: For families, check out the giant sandbox to dig through in the “Vectren Kids’ Hangar”.
8. The Commemorative Air Force AIRSHO: Odessa, Texas
If you are a military aviation fan, this is your event.
This event is one of the oldest in the country, first being held in 1963. The CAF currently has 164 warbird aircraft in the fleet, many of which attend AIRSHO.
In 2014 AIRSHO had an excellent array of aircraft in the event including: WWII Bombers, WWII Fighters WWII Cargo/Transport, WWII Observation/Liaison, WWII Trainers, Vietnam era aircraft, Foreign Aircraft and Replicas, and Static aircraft as well.
This event, like many others, is also very kid friendly. In 2009 they started the Jr. Aces AIRSHO which allows all 5th grade students within 60 miles of the CAF to enjoy a small air show for free. Past shows have welcomed over 3,000 students!
9. Red Bull Air Race: Multiple locations
This air show is globally renowned as “the fastest and most exhilarating motorsport series on the planet”.
You have most likely seen or heard of this air race before. It is all over the internet and TV whenever a race is coming up. The specially designed aerial racetracks were extensively researched and evaluated to create what it is now. The key innovative feature is the inflatable pylons pilots must fly through. These pylons are very unique being that they were developed specifically for this race and are constructed to be very safe for the pilots if they are run into.
The combination of extremely high speeds, low altitudes and extreme maneuverability make this an event you won’t want to miss. These pilots are the most exceptional pilots in the world and they are driving some of the most finely tuned aircraft on the planet. That combination leads to one amazing event.
Lastly, if you have any more air shows you think we missed, please comment them below!