Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Tue, Sept. 22

Warbirds from the past<br>put on big show in Valle

"Awesome. Incredible."

Those were the words of John Williams Sunday afternoon after climbing down from a fighter plane at the fifth annual High Country Warbirds Air Display in Valle. Williams, visiting the area from Honolulu, had just gone on an orientation flight.

John Williams of Honolulu, Hawaii, climbs down from a plane he rode in during the High Country Warbirds Air Display. Orientation rides are offered to air-show patrons each year.

"We did those spins up there and it felt like I was weightless," Williams said. "I felt a little green on the fourth spin."

For those on the ground, watching the variety of military aircraft zoom by was also exciting. Many of the pilots flew their planes at thrilling angles and close to the ground as if they were re-creating a dogfight from World War II days.

This year’s show at the Air Museum Planes of Fame drew a sizeable crowd on Saturday with fewer on Sunday. The museum’s general manager, Bob Reed, said it was a good year.

"We’re way past last year," Reed said, referring to the number of air show patrons. "If they keep coming, we’ll keep doing air shows."

The future of the air display appears bright with Reed always coming up with ideas to increase the number of visitors. Reed said the annual show will continue to be staged on the same weekend in June.

"As we grow and coordinate more with others, what we’re hoping to do is get a shuttle service for people who want to come in," Reed said.

The Grand Canyon Inn in Valle fills up with visitors during the air display weekend, Reed said, and he would like to see a shuttle transport tourists from other lodging in the area.

"It’s something we as a community can all work together on and turn into something special," Reed said.

There are various groups already hooked up with the air show each year. The Valle-Wood Volunteer Fire Department holds a pancake breakfast, the Experimental Aircraft Association chapter out of Flagstaff barbecues hamburgers and hot dogs, the RC Flying Club out of Page does model airplane demonstrations and the Planes of Fame Radio Club was on hand.

There were a handful of vendors selling aviation-related items, ranging from 50-cent Styrofoam planes to pricier items like clocks. There were also T-shirts, hats, jewelry and one vendor even had dozens of old aviation-related books.

But the big draw for the air show are the planes. Even the "enemy," doing a fly-by in an old Japanese Mitsubishi Zero, drew gasps from those on the ground.

Many also enjoyed the Planes of Fame's museum itself, which now has its new hanger completely open.

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