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Thousands flock to inaugural air show

by Ryan Pivoney | September 18, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: The RE/MAX Skydiving Team kicks off the 2023 Show Me State Air Show on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, by diving with American flag banners. The show was attended by an estimated 10,000 people across two days.

Jefferson City Memorial Airport roared with the sounds of jet engines and large crowds over the weekend.

An estimated 10,000 people poured onto the tarmac Saturday and Sunday for the inaugural Show Me State Air Show, director Penny Smith said. The two-day event featured historic warbirds, aerobatics and approximately 40 vendors providing food, games and entertainment.

"I think the response has been pretty phenomenal," Smith said. "People have been excited."

The event was planned for August 2022 but organizers were unable to reach their $150,000 fundraising goal in time to host the show. It was canceled and organizers began fundraising for 2023.

The RE/MAX skydiving team opened both days of shows by falling from planes with American flag banners. They were followed by historic military and modern planes performing aerial stunts and synchronized aerobatics, as well as a 200-mile-per-hour motorcycle racing various aircraft.

On the ground, there were approximately a dozen stationary aircraft for visitors to see up close, including two Army UH-72 Lakota helicopters and a Douglas AC-47 gunship, as well as free monster truck rides, an inflatable obstacle course and free helicopter toys for children.

"We're trying to make this easy for our tri-county area to just come out and have fun and enjoy something for the community," Smith said. "It's been phenomenal."

Bryon and Mimi Raterman, of Hermann, brought their 13-year-old son, Luke, to Sunday's show. A tour of the two stationary Army helicopters was among their first stops.

"I thought they were really cool," Luke said, adding "there's a bunch of buttons in them."

Bryon Raterman said he saw an advertisement for the air show and brought his family to celebrate his birthday.

"We thought we'd come down and check it out. He hasn't seen any airplanes for a while," Bryon said, gesturing to his son, "so we thought it would be interesting and something exciting to do.

"I think it's wonderful that they're putting this thing on for the community. It's very nice."

The helicopters are usually based across the airport, tour guide Mark Dudenhoeffer said. He said bringing them out provides the Army a chance to show off its equipment while bringing a smile to faces.

"Happy to be here and happy to help out," he said.

Sunday's show was a first for Carrias Grellner and her children. They learned about old cars, warbirds and various military careers before planes even took off, she said.

"The children are being engaged regularly," Grellner said. "There's no doubt they are more full of curiosity now than they were when we arrived."

"We've been really grateful that such an enriching, family-friendly event is so accessible," she continued. "It's just all been very easy and welcoming."

Smith said there were some minor hiccups during the first show -- such as a helicopter blowing over some fencing -- but they were quickly fixed.

"It was good learning for next year," she said.

Next year's air show is scheduled for Sept. 14-15, 2024. The dates were reserved with the military, Smith said, but she's looking for more vendors, sponsors and volunteers.

"Raising money for this is definitely a challenge," Smith said. Her goal for next year's show is around $200,000.

  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: A high speed motorcycle races a plane Sunday at the 2023 Show Me State Air Show at Jefferson City Memorial Airport. The 200-mile-per-hour motorcycle reached 160 mph during the race and crossed the finish line before the airplane.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: Patty Lane takes a photo of her 2-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle Porter, in the seat of an Army helicopter Sunday at the Show Me State Air Show at Jefferson City Memorial Airport. The Army had two UH-72 Lakota helicopters for visitors to tour.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: Lexi Green, 12, sits on top of her family's truck Sunday to watch the Show Me State Air Show from the parking lot of Jefferson City Memorial Airport. People watched the free air show from across the Missouri River as well.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo:  Mathias Grellner, 5, runs to hug his mother, Carrias Grellner, after sliding down an inflatable obstacle course slide Sunday at the Show Me State Air Show. Grellner said she appreciated how the event kept children engaged with a variety of activities.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo:  Colby Moats, 12, takes the pilot seat in a UH-72 Lakota Army helicopter during the Show Me State Air Show Sunday at Jefferson City Memorial Airport.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo:  The Trojan Flyers perform synchronized aerobatics during the Show Me State Air Show Sunday at Jefferson City Memorial Airport. Stunts required the planes to be within 10 feet of each other's wings at some points.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo:  A plane glides across the air space during the Show Me State Air Show Sunday at Jefferson City Memorial Airport. Organizers are already planning next year's air show set for Sept. 14 and 15, 2024.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo:  An estimated 10,000 people attended the Show Me State Air Show Saturday and Sunday, according to organizers. The event was planned to start in 2022 but was postponed until organizers were able to raise enough funds.
  photo  Ryan Pivoney/News Tribune photo: The Trojan Flyers approach the sun during their synchronized aerobatics routine Sunday at the 2023 Show Me State Air Show. The show will return Sept. 14 and 15, 2024.

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