After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Duluth Airshow is back and will take to the skies Saturday and Sunday. And so far, event organizers said they expect a big turnout.
"We're already sold out of our flightline tickets and our chalet VIP area for both days," said Jodi Grayson, one of the event's media directors. "And we don't usually sell out those on Sunday. It's going to be a big crowd and we're excited for the turnout."
The event regularly draws upward of 50,000 spectators over the weekend, according to Duluth Airshow President Ryan Kern.
The show will bring back the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, last seen in the 2019 show. The Blue Angels were founded in 1946 to encourage public interest in naval aviation through flight demonstrations. The team is known for its highly technical maneuvers and aerial acrobatics. The team has recently restarted its tour after taking last year off due to the pandemic.
"I know they're excited to be flying again," Grayson said.
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Also in the air will be the U.S. Air Force F-22; the U.S. Air Force C-17; acrobatic and air race pilot Kirby Chambliss; and the B-25 Miss Mitchell flown by the Commemorative Air Force. The Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car and numerous static displays will also be part of the show.
New this year is the Red Bull Air Force and Red Bull Helicopter. The Red Bull Air Force is a team of experienced aviation experts who specialize in aerial jump demonstrations to push the limits of human flight. The team travels around the world to perform more than 60 demonstrations and compete in skydiving and paragliding competitions. During the demonstration, a team of jumpers will dive in wingsuits and perform tricks.
"We've had skydivers in the past, but these ones are a little different as they don't use parachutes," Grayson said. "And after their jumps, they'll be hanging around for meet-and-greets, if you want to talk to them."
The Red Bull helicopter is known for doing "crazy tricks," according to Grayson, such as flying upside down and doing loops.
Grayson also emphasized the show's static displays, which will include a B-52, a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered bomber. This will be a first for the show.
"I know sometimes people just watch the airshow from the road and they're really missing out on these planes on the ground that they can walk up to and take a good look at," Grayson said.
Duluth Air and Aviation Expo
What: Showcase of fixed and flying aviation displays.
When: Saturday and Sunday; gates open at 9 a.m., close at 6 p.m.
Where: Duluth International Airport, 4701 Grinden Drive. A variety of parking options available. Passes $10-$40 at duluthairshow.com/parking. Plan ahead as several lots require purchasing passes in advance.
Tickets: Single-day general admission $25 for adults, $12 for ages 0-16 (reserved seating sold out).