DURANT — Durant’s newest event this year is a Festival of Aviation featuring a full Aerobatic Air Show and family festival to be held at the Durant Regional Airport–Eaker Field on Saturday, April 27.
“Shutik Isht Ia” is the Choctaw translation for “Take to the Skies”! Debby Standefer, President of the Take to the Skies AirFest, said, “we are very exited to be working with and promoting the City of Durant and their beautiful airport as well as the unique opportunity to feature cultural information and education of the Choctaw Nation.” This will be the first Air Show of the season in Oklahoma and North Texas. Actually, this is not just an event; it is an experience that will affect all of your senses with something to offer every age.
Standefer said, “We are proud to honor our military during our show”. While the festival will commemorate those who have served and are serving in our military services throughout, Opening Ceremonies Saturday afternoon at the start of the air show will be action packed including Choctaw dancers and singers, honor guards, flybys, skydivers and more.
Durant, known as the City of Magnolias is a charming city. The airport boasts a beautiful new terminal and was named after General Ira Eaker, an aviation pioneer and war hero. Durant is home to the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation and the Choctaw Casino and Resort with its AAA 4 Star rating. Lake Texoma, the 12th largest lake in the US is only 15 minutes away. Come join for the AirFest and stay for the weekend.
The event opens at 10:00 a.m. Saturday April 27. Before and after the air show you will be entertained with helicopters, airplanes, military aircraft, Commemorative Air Force, powered hang gliders and parachutes, skydivers, radio control aircraft and more, in static displays and demonstrations. Southeastern Oklahoma State University Aviation Sciences Institute is located at the airport. They have a phenomenal flight team who dominated their regional competition and are heading to the Nationals. We hope to have these students fly with us. Flights will be available throughout the day to the public in helicopters, airplanes, warbirds and biplanes. Tethered balloon rides, weather permitting, will be available on Saturday evening before the Glow.
The Air Show begins at 2 p.m. with a variety of airplanes performing dramatic flights and aerobatic performances, a thrilling sight for all! Mike “Spanky” Gallaway, announcer for the famous Red Bull Air Races and other prestigious events will have you jumping in excitement as he announces the show and flies as well! The stars of the show are the Trojan Phlyers Demo Team with their astounding formation aerobatics. Piloted by highly decorated combat veteran pilots performing exciting precision close formation aerobatic routines demonstrating the cutting edge performance of the Trojan T28 warbird and the flying expertise acquired in formal military training, the Trojan Phlyers demonstrate high speed action with the roar of the big engines as they fly their historic aircraft rich in military history in a unique and thrilling performance and salute the veterans or our great nation and the men and women who continue to serve. Jan Collmer, co- founder of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas and a veteran Navy fighter pilot, will fly his Extra 300L in maneuvers.
There will also be an Aerobatic Air Racing Challenge. Woman against Woman … Julia Wood faces Kate Kyer (both are airline captains). Man against Man, and here’s where the skill comes in … Husband against Wife … Julia against husband Tony Wood. And, they all perform solo aerobatics as well. The Trojan Phlyers will race their warbirds against each other in excess of 250 miles per hour. Teams of two will take to the skies in aerobatic maneuvers in a timed sequence.
Saturday evening features the ever popular “Lite the Nite” balloon glow where Hot Air Balloons will stand inflated in static display. As the sun goes down experience the breathtaking sight as the balloons start to glow like huge colorful orbs. The balloons will perform twinkle burns, waves, all burns directed by our announcer. Weather permitting, this is the one time when spectators may be able to come up close to the balloons, talk to the pilots and see just how everything looks and works.
The AirFest looks forward to working with local services and organizations. Non-profit organizations are invited to participate to raise awareness and funds. Organziers will be looking for volunteers and groups to assist on show day and are now taking applications for food vendors, exhibitors, craft vendors and sponsors.
“Sponsorship is invaluable to an event. It enables the event to grow in every way. The Take to the Skies AirFest relies on sponsorships so that we can keep this a very low cost event to the public and to continue to grow the show each year. We work with our sponsors to develop active integrated programs not only to promote the sponsor and assist them in achieving their marketing goals, but to create a positive experience on site for the public. The attendance this event garners not only locally, but from spectators throughout the state, Lake Texoma, North Texas and Dallas gives us the ability to market not only our sponsors but to showcase and promote our growing airport and the wonderful city of Durant while at the same time becoming an important revenue source for the city through lodging, retail and food sales in town through the weekend. We are honored to have the support of Durant Regional Airport-Eaker Field, the City of Durant and to work with the Choctaw Nation and proud to promote these incredible entities and to showcase Durant as a destination location,” Standefer said.
Be sure to follow Take to the Skies AirFest on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information, and visit our website for our schedule and detailed information updated as new information comes available. The festival is only $5 per person with children under 6 free. Tickets will be available online soon.
Take to the Skies AirFest is proud to welcome Veterans Airlift Command in a rare appearance to our festival. VAC provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded and their familes for medial and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. The Choctaw Nation is one of VAC’s strongest long term supporters having flown over 40 missions.
For more information, visit http://www.taketotheskiesairfest.com or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/taketotheskiesairfest.