By BLAKE FAITH
The Decatur Airport is hosting an air show on August 14 and 15 to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The event is free, open to the public, family friendly, fun for all ages and onsite limited parking when available is $5. The history of the Decatur Airport goes back to 1946, but airplanes and flying go back as early as 1910.
Tim Wright, Director of the Decatur Airport, shared that the first downstate flight took place in Decatur on July 14, 1910. The process to build the current airport lasted two years. During that time there was an airport on the northwest side of Decatur near Old Route 36 and Wyckles Road. That airport opened in 1932 and serviced the community until the current airport took over the reins. The northwest airport stayed open for roughly 10 years before the current airport took over as the only one.
The air show planning process has been going for a couple years and really got in depth around January. The Park District team and an airport team collaborated to make this event happen.
“I see it as a blessing,” Wright said. “It’s something that we’re going to be able to give back to the community, especially coming off of a pandemic. We think there’s a lot of people that want to come out and really, truly want to enjoy themselves. And it’s our way of giving back to the community that has supported us the last 75 years.”
Wright went on to say that it’s very important to give back to the community. He said that when people fly in that the airport is the first impression of the community.
“We want the airport to always look nice, our facilities to be fresh and people get to enjoy the amenities that we have out here,” Wright said. “A lot of people may not realize but we do drive an economic generator out here from cargo coming into our airport, to jobs, to fuel to the infrastructure. All communities our size need an airport to help sustain the community and the quality of life.”
Wright anticipates that there will be 10,000 to 12,000 people that will come to the event, Everyone’s East End Grill will be serving food along with food trucks, a mobile zoo, interactive activities and other static displays.
Wright’s favorite thing about the upcoming air show is the A10 Warthog to do their demonstration. It is a way for the airport to showcase their military. There is an aviation unit based out of Decatur and just south the airport is a National Guard unit.
There will also be different planes and people demonstrating on both days. Among those include a Warbird T-6, Prometheus and a MiG 17. More of the list can be found on the Air Show’s website at https://www.decatur-parks.org/airport/75th-anniversary-air-show/.
The overall message that Wright wanted to share to the community and readers is four things. The first is to bring your lawn chair. Second, no coolers allowed. Third, bring sunscreen. Lasty, come ready to have a good time.