Look out below, because the 30th annual Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Airshow at Columbia will fill the sky with historic airplanes and awe-inspiring aerial feats, including teams of skydivers.
The free Memorial Day weekend event will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Columbia Regional Airport. Headlining the event, the U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II Tactical will appear above Columbia after an eight-year hiatus, along with the U.S. Army Black Daggers and the Skyhawks Canadian Armed Forces parachute teams.
Media Chair Jessica Houston said it is not your typical airshow.
"Our main mission and value is saluting veterans and our allies and basically saying thank you to them," she said. "That is also why we are a free airshow. It gives civilians a chance to speak to veterans in all different branches of our military and give them a chance to say thank you."
Mary Posner founded the event in 1989, organizing parades, air shows, educational programs and other attractions on Memorial Day weekend to recognize, honor and thank all veterans of the U.S. Armed Services living and dead, as well as raise funds to construct permanent memorials in their honor.
Posner was a Columbia local and daughter of a veterans who challenged her to give back to people of the area.
"When she moved back to Columbia after living in New York for 25 years, she realized that there really wasn't much of a Memorial Day celebration that really gave back to our veterans," Houston said. "This was her dream."
This year, the U.S. Air Force Wings of Blue Skydiving Team will make its airshow debut. Also appearing will be the T-6 "Radial Velocity" Reno Racer, winner of the National Championship Air Races, 19 planes from the WWI Kansas City Dawn Patrol, and the MU Joint Services Drill Team.
Other demonstrations will include the WWI Curtiss Jenny 100th anniversary flight and a Heritage Flight with a Curtiss P-40N Warhawk. Aerial acrobatics will be performed by the WWII de Havilland Vampire, Lockheed T-33 'Shooting Star,' 1948 AD-1 Skyraider and the Trojan Phlyers T-28 aerobatic demonstration team.
USN VP-30 P-8 Poseidon static display will be available for tours for the first time, joining the USN VP-30 P-3C Orion display tour as well as many other static displays.
The newest Air Force recruiting asset, Air Force Special Ops Air Commando Experience, will be on site for those interested in learning more about joining the Air Force.
The annual Honored Guests and Volunteers Banquet will be 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Southwell Arena at Columbia College. The admission fee will include a carved buffet and three bottles of wine for a table of eight.
Honored guests will include retired Gen. Frank Grass, a former presidential military adviser; Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher Walker, the chief of staff for the West Virginia Air National Guard and a master navigator who has totalled more than 400 combat and combat support hours; retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, the former deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces in Europe; retired Navy Cap. William Bond, a graduate of Hickman High School and Desert Storm squadron operations officer; retired Air Force Col. Charles DeBellevue, the highest scoring ace Vietnam War pilot; Royal Air Force Group Captain Willy Hackett; and many more esteemed veterans.
The banquet also will feature the introduction of the Military Demonstration Teams and Military Aircraft Pilots and Crews, the Tuskegee Airmen and WWII Women Air Force Service Pilots Reunion Groups, naming of the Grand Marshal of the 29th Salute to Veterans Parade, volunteer awards, an auction for the Endowment Fund of aviation and military memorabilia, artwork from the Missouri Art Gallery and jewelry. Tickets can be purchased at salute.org/Banquet2018.html.
A 9 a.m. Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Boone County Courthouse. An hour later, the 30th Annual Salute To Veterans Parade will set off from downtown Columbia and end at Columbia College R. Marvin Owens Soccer Stadium.