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Fort Wayne Air Show - Michelle Davies - Journal Gazette

The Indiana Air National Guard sponsor an Air Show in Fort Wayne, IIN.

Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Visitors to Sunday's Air National Guard Air Show could take advantage of walking through the inside of a 1987 C-5 airplane.

Air Show crowd in awe of sights

Enjoy aerial stunts, tours of airplanes

Ryan Phares, 5, takes the controls of a plane that was open to visitors during Sunday’s Air Show at the Air National Guard base.

Scattered showers and ominous clouds certainly didn't deter the thousands of people who descended on southwest Allen County for the three-day Air Show hosted by the Indiana Air National Guard's 122nd Fighter Wing.

Dennis and Chris Felger of Churubusco were there when the gates opened at 9 a.m. Sunday, which explained their front-and-center seats on the runway.

But they weren't the first.

"There were already about a dozen people lined up here next to us," Dennis Felger said.

Although the skies were overcast, the show continued as scheduled.

The event started Friday, and although rain caused an early afternoon cancellation of the show Saturday, the crowds were exceptionally large throughout the weekend, said Capt. Rebecca Metzger, public affairs officer at the base.

Parking plans were quickly changed for Sunday's show after Saturday's exodus of people created a muddy mess in the nearby grass parking lots.

Sunday's public parking was restricted to paved lots at Wayne High School and the Air Trade Center (the former Kitty Hawk building) off Indianapolis Road, where drivers manning buses from Fort Wayne Community Schools shuttled spectators back and forth to the air show.

Families were able to watch the amazing – and sometimes ear-splitting – feats of pilots and air teams while visiting various aeronautical exhibits, airplanes and flight simulators.

Lines of people waited patiently to board four giant military transport and cargo planes that were on display – one even allowed visitors to climb a flight of stairs into the cockpit of the massive beast.

Members of the military patiently explained to children – and a few adults – what those letters on the military planes stood for: A for attack, B for bomber, F for fighter, P for pursuit, K for tanker and C for transport or cargo. Metzger said.

It was Metzger's first air show as a member of the military.

"We are thrilled, thrilled with the crowds," she said.

The support from the public and private sponsors has been overwhelming, as well.

The community is so supportive and when it comes to patriotism, Fort Wayne is unmatched, Metzger said.

The event allowed the public to "come in, see who we are, what we do, and understand our mission," she said.

Although it won't be an annual event, the show will be held on a regular basis, maybe every three years, she said.

In addition to hundreds of military volunteers, the event was dependent on about 300 civilian volunteers as well, Metzger said.

Several of those civilian volunteers were at the entrance gate and a nearby information tent where Erika Coomer, 32, of Fort Wayne was handing out information and maps.

Coomer had originally heard about the air show through her training on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's team for the air show's 5K and 10K races. After hearing that they needed volunteers for the show itself, Coomer offered her help through the air show's website.

Next to Coomer was volunteer Judy Pfeiffer of Fort Wayne, who sometimes volunteers to help out at base events since her husband is a retired master sergeant of the Air Guard.

Pfeiffer pointed to the large pile of empty boxes behind her that had contained thousands of air show programs.

"I can't believe how many we handed out yesterday and today," she said, "and we didn't give a copy to everyone. There are a lot of people here."

vsade@jg.net

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