Thursday, September 20, 2018

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Chippewa Valley Air Show: Tens of thousands come out again for a roaring good time at the Eau Claire airport

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    Two of the six U.S. Navy Blue Angels jets perform Saturday during the Chippewa Valley Air Show at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Eau Claire. Their performance was the show’s finale Saturday and will end the show today as well.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-57a-061718

    A U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet warplane takes off in front of the announcer at the Chippewa Valley Air Show on Saturday in Eau Claire. The show, which continues today, features more than a dozen performances. View more photos at

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-22a-061718

    Six-year-old Gage Ronchetto of Shakopee, Minn., plays with a toy F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet during the air show Saturday at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-35a-061718-2

    The Shockwave Jet Truck and a Lucas Oil stunt plane cross paths Saturday at the Chippewa Valley Air Show.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-8a-061718-6

    The American flag is presented at the start of the show.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-94a-061718-7

    A spectator photographs the Navy Blue Angels.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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  • dr-Air-Show-2a-061718-1

    A crowd surrounds a C-130 military cargo plane, one of the many displays at the show.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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The smell of fried foods, small children perched on the necks of adults and the roar of jet engines are good indications that it’s time again for the Chippewa Valley Air Show.

John Frederickson, a father of two, was at Saturday’s show at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, the first of two for the weekend, with his wife and kids, one of whom was elevated as he sat atop his dad’s shoulders with a chicken strip in hand.

Frederickson’s 3-year-old son, Erik, looked to the sky, mimicking the engine roars of the planes as best as he could with his lips.

The Frederickson family drove from Apple Valley, Minn., looking for something fun to do for the weekend.

As someone who has been attending air shows all his life, Frederickson said this was the first time he and his family had attended one in the Chippewa Valley, which last hosted a show in 2015. Part of what brought them out was the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

“It’s great that you get big events,” Frederickson said, “like the Blue Angels — high-profile, high-name events — that come into a smaller town so that people can see them without having to travel far or pay a lot for a ticket.”

This show is nice, he said, because it’s at a smaller airport and people can find a great view no matter where they’re standing. After the show, Frederickson said, he and his son would have to see the jet-powered truck up close.

Another person who enjoyed the jet-propelled truck was John Kingland, who was at the show with his brother Tim.

 A self-proclaimed fan of aircraft, Tim Kingland said he especially enjoys World War II-era planes, and liked seeing the legendary B-29 Superfortress long-range bomber on display at the show, one of only two still flying. The duo from Fairbault, Minn., drove 2½ hours to watch the show and to go camping.

“It’s nice to have an excuse to travel a little bit,” Tim Kingland said.

The brothers shared their appreciation for the venue, noting ease of access, a safe atmosphere and good parking. John Kingland was appreciative of the venue, pointing out flower pots next to a nearby gate.

“You notice the detail. They make it look nice,” he said. “Somebody thought of it, and somebody put the work in to make it look nice.”

Joe and Patti Hanke drove from Wausau to see the show and to visit their daughter, who lives in Eau Claire.

The two were walking from spot to spot and standing because they forgot their lawn chairs, but said it wasn’t so bad.

“You don’t need to sit right up in the front because everything’s up in the air anyway,” Joe Hanke said.

He said they were looking forward to the Blue Angels, but he liked the Jack Links aerobatic demonstration.

Chara Hall, a Montello native, was also excited to see the Blue Angels. She has seen them do flyovers at Green Bay Packers games, but this was her first time at an air show.

“So far so good,” she said of the experience.

Some of the planes took her back to other times, Hall said. The Huey Helicopter demo reminded her of watching the TV show “M.A.S.H.”

An Army veteran, Hall said she enjoyed the military displays and simulations at the show. She also valued the air of respect around the event, where she saw people thanking veterans.

“It’s neat to see what people gave up to fly all these old planes,” Hall said.

The Saturday crowd was estimated at about 35,000, and the same numbers are expected for today, weather permitting, event spokeswoman Meghan Kulig said. Today’s forecast calls for a high of 92, with partly cloudy skies and a slight chance of thunderstorms, according to The Weather Co.

Contact: 715-833-9203,

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