Bigger air show at airport open house this year

The Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) Open House & Air Show is expanding its air show from an hour to an hour-and-a-half to include more aerial acts this year. Cold War-era military trainer jets will take to the skies along with aerobatic planes.

Also new this year, two to four passengers at a time will be able to take open cockpit airplane rides in a vintage aircraft from Waldo Wright’s Flying Service. The flights last 10 minutes and cost $75 per passenger. The open house will be held Sunday, Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The air show begins at 2 p.m. General admission is free. There is a $5 fee per vehicle for parking.

“Families come to tour the planes on the ground but they stay for the excitement of the air show,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The airport open house committee decided this year that it was time to give the fans more of what they love.”

Dacy Air Shows pilots return this year to dazzle the crowds with aerobatic maneuvers. Susan Dacy, one of only a few women performing airshows in a biplane, will fly her Super Stearman which she calls “Big Red.” Michael Vaknin will have spectators on the edge of their seats with gyroscopic and high-g maneuvers in his Extra 300 airplane. And Doug Dodge will make the crowd “oooh” and “aaah” as he flips his one-of-a-kind stunt biplane Machaira end-over-end in midair. Machaira means two-edged sword in Greek.

Kevin Copeland of KC Aerosports in Traverse City will get the crowd’s adrenaline pumping as he performs aerobatics in his Belanca Super Decathlon during the air show. Rounding out the performances will be pilots Tom Proctor and Marty Tibbits in their Cold War-era military trainer jets from the World Heritage Air Museum.

Aviation enthusiasts will be able to explore about 50 aircraft at the open house including Tuskegee Motor Gliders, warbirds and vintage jets. World War II military vehicles will also be on display alongside the Oakland County Sherriff’s helicopter and Beaumont One, Beaumont Health’s air medical transportation service. Remote control giant scale aircraft operators will fly demonstrations as well.

In addition, individuals can take-off in a helicopter for $35 or an airplane for $25 per adult, $20 for kids under 12, and $55 for one adult and two kids.

For children there will be a play area equipped with bounce houses and a rock wall. Bill Crell, “The NASA Guy,” will show off his latest experiments and demonstrations. Plus, there will be a health and safety fair from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. including the Michigan Child ID Program, which informs families about abduction prevention and provides fingerprinting for children.

The OCIA Open House and Airshow Committee continues its annual tradition of hosting a pancake breakfast from 8-11 a.m. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

Attendees also may tour the nation’s first LEED-Gold certified general aviation terminal. Open since 2011, the new eco-friendly terminal features solar panels and wind turbines, solar hot water heater, and a geothermal field all designed to reduce energy consumption. Today, the terminal has reduced its energy consumption by 44 percent.

“Whether you’re an aviation buff or just a kid deep down inside, the Open House & Air Show has something for everyone,” said J. David VanderVeen, Oakland County’s director of central services, who oversees the airport. “This truly is an event the whole family can enjoy.”

This is OCIA’s 31st annual open house. For more information, go to www.OakGov.com/aviation or go to OCIA’s Facebook page at OakGovAirport and click on events. The airport is located at 6500 Highland Road in Waterford.