A new twist coming to Duluth air show
The Duluth Air and Aviation Expo wings its way into Duluth this weekend with a collection of new attractions and old favorites. The show, held at Duluth International Airport, includes warplanes dating from World War II to today's front-line figh...
The Duluth Air and Aviation Expo wings its way into Duluth this weekend with a collection of new attractions and old favorites.
The show, held at Duluth International Airport, includes warplanes dating from World War II to today's front-line fighters. The range fits the expo's theme of "Generations."
"We want to honor the generations of veterans who have served our country, have flown these planes, and what they have done, as well as the men and women who are currently serving," expo spokesman Dave Boe said.
In addition to military airpower, the expo is scheduled to include the new Cirrus jet, a parachute team, displays on space travel and a first-ever twilight show with rock concert.
While the Expo includes ground-based displays and entertainment, the Expo's real attraction for many visitors is the air show, billed as Minnesota's largest. Headlining the show is the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
"The Thunderbirds have been here before and are very popular," Boe said.
And why wouldn't they be, with the outfit's pilots putting their F-16 Fighting Falcons through formations and maneuvers, flying within feet of each other.
New to the air show is "Tora! Tora! Tora!," a portrayal of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 -- the date of infamy that brought America into World War II.
The performance includes several planes combined with pyrotechnics on the ground. The swooping attacks, explosions, flame and smoke has earned the act the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship from the International Council of Air Shows.
While the attacking planes appear to be vintage Japanese fighters and bombers, Boe said they're replicas built from American World War II trainers for the 1970 movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" named for the Japanese code word indicating that they had achieved complete surprise.
"Tora Tora Tora has never been here before," he said. "I am really looking forward to them. I've always appreciated the acts that reflect our older heritage and veterans."
Other planes recalling World War II include a P-40, a P-51, a PBY Catalina, a B-25 and a P-38 Lightning.
The Lightning -- called the "fork-tailed devil" by the Germans and "two planes, one pilot" by the Japanese -- was the type of plane Poplar's Richard Ira Bong flew to become America's ace of aces with 40 confirmed kills in the Pacific Theater. The plane will take part in this year's heritage flight, where planes from different generations fly together.
"That's always a crowd pleaser, to see the generations of aircraft flying together," Boe said. "We're going to have a triple heritage flight this year," with the P-38, a Vietnam era F-4 and a modern F-15 flying together.
Not all of the air show's attractions are things that fly. Some are things that fall and glide. For only the third time in its history the show includes a parachute team. The Canadian Forces Parachute Team, the SkyHawks, has 18 members who will perform freefall and canopy formations under their red and white Canadian flag parachutes.
Also new this year is a second Saturday air show beginning at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by a rock concert featuring Firehouse. Tickets for those events are separate from the earlier air show.
In addition to planes flying, parachutists falling and bands rocking, the expo offers numerous other attractions: historic and modern planes on display, a children's area, and a NASA display of spacesuits, moon rocks and other space-
"It has been very popular," Boe said. "A lot of astronauts have come from the aviation industry, so it's nice to have this here."