The Culpeper Air Fest, billed as the “Best Little Airshow on the East Coast,” draws between 5,000 and 10,000 people every year and it’s been drawing those kinds of crowds for 20 years now.
Steve Nixon, the chairman for the airshow, said Culpeper Air Fest draws thousands from nearby and far afield.
“They come for the airport environment. We have people that come from overseas. A lot of the performers also come from out of town,” Nixon said.
The free show will run between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Culpeper Regional Airport, and will include precision and stunt flying with vintage trainer airplanes and warplanes. The 12 different performers at the show will include wing walkers from the Flying Circus Airshow out of Bealeton, and aerobatics flying by Kevin Russo in his T-6 Texan.
T-6 aircraft were WWII trainer aircraft that were used to train fighter pilots for the U.S. Army Air Forces, the U.S. Navy and several British Commonwealth air forces. The airplanes were used into the 1970s.
Nixon said there will be 19 T-6s at the airshow, along with two T-28s, also WWII trainers, plus five to 10 aircraft that will remain on the ground in static displays.
“We’ll have between 40 and 75 airplanes on the field,” Nixon said. “Most will be vintage airplanes. Most of the static displays will be some newer aircraft,” Nixon said.
The show will also include an annual favorite, the Harrier jump jet that can take off and land vertically and achieve nearly supersonic speed, Nixon said.
While the main airshow is on Saturday, Culpeper Air Fest promoters will bring Culpeper fifth-graders to the airport for two days this week to learn about the aviation industry as it relates to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs, Nixon said.
Children who attend the event will see a plane restoration project, a solar power demonstration and an experiment in states of matter, magnetic principles and electricity and other demonstrations and activities.
“One of those stations we’re going to ask them to do riveting for aircraft. In another one, they’ll do robotics,” Nixon said. “In another one they’ll do paper airplanes, and how to build them. We’ll have a helicopter display that kids can get in and out of and touch and feel.”
Parking for the show will be at Culpeper County High School, 14240 Achievement Drive, and at Eastern View High School, 16332 Cyclone Way. Shuttle buses will take people to the airport.
The Culpeper Air Fest website suggests that people bring plastic water bottles, sunscreen, lawn chairs or blankets, cameras, comfortable footwear and hats.
There will be 10 food vendors at the air show.
Nixon said the Culpeper Air Fest Foundation, a nonprofit chartered to promote awareness and education, runs the family-friendly event for the benefit of the community.
“We do it for the community for several reasons. We want to introduce people to general aviation, to give something back to the community and also to get kids interested in aviation and the STEM programs,” Nixon said.