Indulge those dreams

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

With the politicians in Washington, D.C., using everything from White House tours to aircraft carrier deployments as leverage in the continuing federal budget debate-turned-debacle, Hampton Roads residents lost out on one of their favorite September events when the U.S. Navy announced earlier this month that it was canceling the popular Oceana Air Show.

With the famous Blue Angels precision flying team grounded for the rest of the season, the event’s star attraction would be missing, and, officials said, the show would not be able to support itself financially.

The storied team of F/A-18 Hornets might be stuck in the hangars, but folks in Suffolk will still get a chance to see a great airshow this weekend, during the 15th annual Festival of Flight, to be held at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

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The event is always a big draw for pilots that wish to participate in the fly-in, which allows them to visit a new airport, spend a few hours looking at new and vintage civilian and military aircraft, attend a few lectures and even spend the night in a tent near their own airplane or head into town for the evening. The event, however, has sometimes proved to be less of a draw for local residents, despite the wide variety of educational and entertaining exhibits on display.

But with the addition this year of a Sunday afternoon airshow, complete with an old-fashioned wing-walker, this year’s Festival of Flight promises to be the most exciting one yet. There will be military trainers and replicas, biplanes and jet fighters. As many as 600 airplanes have landed at the airport during past festival weekends, so there’s hardly an hour when aircraft will not be coming and going. And under the Young Eagles program, pilots volunteer their time, aircraft and gas to take kids on free joy flights, usually lasting about 15 minutes. On Saturday, there will be a car and motorcycle show for people who enjoy land-based transportation more than air travel.

It’s a busy weekend in Suffolk, but for kids and adults who dream of wings, the Festival of Flight will be the perfect place to spend a few hours indulging those dreams. For more information, visit