The skies above Olathe roared to life with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Air Force Thunderbirds and a slate of other aerial spectacles Saturday and Sunday.
Throngs of visitors flooded the gates at New Century AirCenter to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend as well as take in the static displays of modern and vintage aircraft along with the aerial demonstrations.
The air show kicked off with the Leap Frogs, the Navy’s parachute team, which floated to earth with smoke trails and the American Flag as the “Star Spangled Banner’ played over loudspeakers.
Shortly after the Navy SEALs gathered up their parachutes, the air show displays commenced with various aerial stunt planes, including the KC Flight Formation Team. The 10-plane team offered several acrobatic and carefully timed maneuvers, including a red, white and blue smoke trail.
Meanwhile, on the ground, visitors had their choice of a variety of modern and vintage aircraft displays to visit.
Maggie Morris, dressed as Rosie the Riveter, was part of the team handling the B-17 bomber display on the ground while stunt planes zoomed overhead.
“On Fourth of July, it’s very special,” she said. “We always love representing with our planes. It’s great.”
Waldo resident Cody Johnson was touring a Vietnam-era Chinook helicopter with his son Theo who just turned 3. Theo was particularly enamored with the “bubble window” that enables crew inside the craft to look for damage to the exterior.
“We wanted to come do something different. It was his birthday this week and he’s infatuated with airplanes, construction equipment and trucks — anything big and of that nature,” Johnson said. “So, just beautiful weather. What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July?”
Also viewing the display on the ground was Valley Center, Kansas, resident Wayne T. Bormann, a Vietnam veteran. He was showing off his PT-19, which he and two of his friends rebuilt over the course of eight years working Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The 75-year-old said he took his first flight when he was 14 and was hooked. He said he spends nearly every weekend at an air show.
“It’s a great thing to get involved with,” he added. “I just like doing air shows.”
KCUR 89.3 is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate public radio station. You can read and listen to more of their reporting at kcur.org.