Flights of fancy for the Air Capital

By Laura Roddy

A wing walker, a wall of fire and plenty of aerial acrobatics will keep eyes on the sky at the Wichita Flight Festival.

The festival will take place August 20-21 at Colonel James Jabara Airport and also will feature a "Fly Market," concessions and an area for kids. Additionally, Wichita Area Technical College will hold an open house in conjunction with the event.

In 2009, the last time the festival was held at Jabara, nearly 30,000 people attended.

Gates open both days at 10 a.m. The event is free with the exception of a Saturday evening twilight show that costs $5 and features Peace Frog, a Doors tribute band.

Greg Shelton of Greg Shelton Air Shows in Collinsville, Oklahoma, will do a couple of acts. In one, he flies a 1943 Boeing Stearman.

It"s painted red, white and blue, but what will really catch spectators attention is the woman who will be walking on the wing, Ashley Battles. "She starts out in between the wings, and she transitions onto the top," Shelton said. "She's always very popular with the young girls."

Although Shelton is no stranger to a thrill he tried looping his airplane after his first pilot lesson when he was in his 20s he prefers to leave the wing walking to Battles, who is also a pilot.

"Ashley's always wanting me to get on the wing," Shelton said.

It has been eight air show seasons, and Shelton still isn't trading places with Battles.

The aerial performers lined up for the Wichita Flight Festival are without exception enthusiastic about flight. Dan McClung of Red Eagle Air Sports throws around words such as "passion" and "magic" when he talks about his act.

Roger Crawford calls himself the "Mad Bomber" and says "just a fascination with explosives" is what led him to create his act, which features a wall of fire.

Bernadette Bradshaw, management assistant with the city's Division of Arts and Cultural Services, which puts on the festival, says the wall of fire on Saturday evening will be brief about nine seconds but mighty.

"It is 750 feet of fuel that they explode a gigantic boom, big flames," she said.

Kent Shockley also will be on hand during the festival with his jet-powered truck.

"It's impressive to see him do his runs during the day, but you see the flames so much better at night," Bradshaw said.

There should be something for just about everyone, Bradshaw said young and old, casual fans and serious airplane aficionados.

1st Annual Wichita Aviation Film Festival

In conjunction with the Aviation Festival, plan on attending the 1st Annual Wichita Aviation Film Festival on Saturday, August 13th. The event benefits the Kansas Aviation Museum and the Wichita Orpheum Theater where it is to be held. Three, themed films will be shown throughout the day, with a VIP reception at 6pm. Complete schedule here.

While at the Aviation Festival, visit the Kansas Aviation Museum display and register for a chance to win an annual family pass to the museum valued at $65 dollars. Ten passes will be awarded to lucky recipients.

Wichita Flight Festival

Aug. 20-21 | Jabara Airport
for event schedule, performers and recommended parking.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

9:30 AM - Shuttle Transportation begins
10:00 AM - Gates Open |static displays
Food Concourse| Kids Fun Zone | Fly Market
10:00 AM - WATC Open House
11:30 AM - Opening Ceremony
12:00 PM - Air Show Performances
4:00 PM Gates Close
6:30 PM - Gates Reopen| Food Concourse
7:30 PM - Twilight Air show
8:30 PM - Concert
11:00 PM - Gates Close

Sunday, August 21, 2011

9:30 AM - Shuttle Transportation begins
10:00 AM - WATC Open House
11:30 AM - Opening Ceremony
12:00 PM - Air Show Performances
1:00 PM - WATC Open House concludes
4:00 PM - Gates Close Event schedule

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