Classic planes, military heroes at Aero Expo
Aero Expo, which will take place June 17-18 at the Akron
Fulton International Airport, will feature a variety
of planes, as shown above and at left.
of MAPS Air Museum
By Kathleen Folkerth
SOUTH AKRON — One of the biggest and best events in Summit County, the Aero Expo 2006, will take place Father’s Day weekend.
And that’s not just hyperbole coming from Joe Chevraux, executive director of the MAPS Air Museum in Green, which organizes the event.
“We usually get about 30,000 people [over the weekend], and we just got a Zenith Award for Best Event in Summit County the third year in a row,” Chevraux said.
This year’s event, taking place June 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Akron Fulton International Airport, is the seventh and features the theme “Defenders of Freedom.” It will include aerial demonstrations by the Flying Fossils F-86 Sabre and “Check-Six” MiG-17F, including a simulated dogfight. The show also will feature the first Akron appearances of two P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, the A-26 Invader and AD-1 Skyraider. Both planes were used in Korea and Vietnam, and the A-26 also saw combat in World War II.
In addition to aerobatic acts and fly-bys, the event will include the chance for attendees to interact with some notable figures from aviation history. This year, appearances are scheduled by a group of Tuskegee Airmen who live in the Cleveland area; “Dutch” Van Kirk, navigator of the Enola Gay at Hiroshima; and Linda Morgan, wife of the late Col. Robert Morgan, pilot of the Memphis Belle.
But Chevraux said he’s happiest this year that the air show will host for the second time Michael Hunter, the only insulin-dependent diabetic aerobatic pilot. Hunter will perform his “Flight for Diabetes” and be available for autographs.
“We’re really proud to have Michael Hunter and his ‘Flight for Diabetes,’” Chevraux said. “It’s neat to have somebody of his caliber at the show.”
Hunter travels the country speaking
to children who are diabetic and presenting the message
that by controlling their diabetes they can still fulfill
their dreams. Children with diabetes who would like
to participate in the event at Aero Expo can go to www.flightfordiabetes.com to
Also at this year’s event,
aviation buffs who have always wanted to ride in a classic
warbird will have the chance. Rides on a B-17 Flying
Fortress are $400 — but Chevraux said it’s
worth it, as there are
only a dozen of the planes in existence today. Other
rides available will be on an SNJ Texan two-seat trainer
for $300, a Stearman open cockpit biplane for $200 and
a Vietnam-era Cayuse helicopter for $65.
Aero Expo also will have a children’s
area with inflatables, bungee bouncing and rock climbing.
Chevraux stresses the event is
a great option for families
looking for entertainment at a reasonable cost.
“It’s a family event
where people can come out and enjoy themselves,”
he said. “The pricing is reasonable, compared
to other air shows. You can bring the family, have a
great day and still leave with money in your pockets.”
Despite the fact that the event
is during Father’s Day weekend and has been
for the past couple of years, Chevraux
said the event isn’t always planned for the holiday.
Rather, it’s been planned for the third weekend
of June because it’s historically the driest weekend
in the month.
“The show goes on rain
or shine,” Chevraux said. “If it’s
a cloudy day, we have a low altitude show, and if it’s
a sunny day, we do a high altitude show.”
Proceeds from the air show benefit
the nonprofit MAPS Air
Museum at 2260 International Parkway in Green.
“We need about $2 million
to finish the museum,” Chevraux said. “We
have a lot of renovations to do.”
Advance tickets for Aero Expo
2006 are $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12
and are available at Acme Fresh Market, Discount Drug
Mart, The Dusty Armadillo, The 365th Fighter Group
Restaurant and the MAPS Air Museum.
At the gate, tickets will be $12 for adults and $8 for
children ages 6-12. Discount coupons for gate tickets
are available at Papa John’s Pizza locations.
Children younger than 6 will be admitted free of charge
with the donation of an empty Coke can for the Akron
Children’s Hospital Burn Unit. Parking is $5 and
is available at the city of Akron lots off Waterloo
Road near Lockheed Martin. A shuttle to the show is
included in the admission cost.
For more information, call the
MAPS Air Museum at (330) 896-6332 or go to www.mapsairmuseum.org.