An ‘Angel’ of a day: Acrobatics, fiery flights thrill Dayton Air Show crowds

The second and final day of the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show on Sunday drew people from far and wide who were eager to see something special, something thrilling, something dazzling.

At times the weather was worrisome, but in the end, the show was a success — fiery air battles from Tora Tora Tora, twisting aerobatics from the Titan team, and of course the roar of the headliner Blue Angels zooming and rolling in tight formations at 400 mph.

“They’re the best,” said Eugene Vanover, 68, who lives east of Columbus in Licking County.

And all that came without the 94-degree heat of Saturday’s show, which sent about 100 people to the medical tents for heat-related treatment.

The thousands in the crowd spent the morning taking in all of the ground displays — at least as many as they could cram in — before the aerial performances began just before noon.

Some air show visitors come from just down the road. Others come from as far as Takashi Morikawa, who traveled from Himeji, Japan, to celebrate his work retirement.

Though there was a ton to see at the 50th Dayton Air Show, nearly everyone the Dayton Daily News spoke to said they were looking most forward to one show in particular: the Blue Angels.

Weather plays a role

The Golden Knights parachutists, who were scheduled to start the program Sunday, did not perform around noon because of low ceilings and windy conditions.

After demonstrations by the Titan Aerobatic Team, T-38 supersonic jets and others, there was a brief break as sudden rain and wind around 1:20 p.m. caused some people to run for shelter.

Aerial acts like the F-16 Viper require at least 1,500 feet of vertical visibility between the ground and the clouds to perform. The Blue Angels did the “low” version of their show on Sunday. They did a high show on Saturday.

But volunteers and visitors said the weather, though somewhat glum, was great for the event. Rainfall came in small patches and didn’t last long and helped cool things down.

There were plenty of impressive acts — giant fiery explosions elicited oohs and ahhs and awestruck reactions during the Tora Tora Tora performance that recreates the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eight planes took to the skies, and pyrotechnics on the ground gave air show visitors a moving history lesson from 1941.

Making a weekend of it

People from all over Ohio and beyond travel to Dayton each year for the air show.

Some people, like Kathy and John Quintus, make it a mini-weekend vacation, with an overnight stay and a visit to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force the day before or the day after they attend the air show.

Kathy and John enjoyed the Air Force museum on Saturday and they were among the first people through the gates shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. The U.S. Air Force Band of Flight, stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, serenaded visitors as they walked through the front gates.

The Quintuses, who live in the greater Cleveland area, made a beeline for the spectator areas to put down their foldable chairs and claim a good front-row seat for the air performances.

John Quintus said he likes the Dayton Air Show more than Cleveland’s because it has way more military aircraft and performances.

“This is way better,” he said.

Kathy Quintus said they’ve had a great visit to Dayton.

Eric Krahn, 30, of Lima, said this is the fourth time he’s come to the Dayton Air Show with his family. They last came in 2022 when the Blue Angels performed, and Krahn said the Blue Angels are a must-see act.

Krahn said his father was in the military, and he likes to educate his three daughters about military aviation.

Krahn said his family went straight to the spectator area to guarantee front-row seats. He said it’s such a different experience being close to the landing and takeoff areas.

“If you don’t get here and mark your territory, you’re going to be way back there,” he said.

Krahn’s 9-year-old daughter Ella said the stunts are her favorite thing about the air show.

“I like how they spin in the sky,” she said.

Matthew Steele, 36, who lives north of Cincinnati in Sharonville, has visited the Dayton Air Show nearly a dozen times. He attended on Sunday with his father, David Steele.

Matthew Steele said he keeps coming back because of the wide selection of aircraft that’s on display and he loves military demonstration performances.

His favorite acts and demonstrations include The Blue Angels and Tora Tora Tora!, which has planes painted as Japanese Zeroes.

Steele said his grandfather Charles Steele flew an AT-6 in World War II and served in the Army Air Corps.

The Dayton Air Show has eclectic acts and displays every year, he said.

“They find what works, they stick with it, but they alter it up a little bit” every year, he said.

Charles Steele said, “There’s something different every year and it’s always interesting.”

Matthew Steele said he’s very impressed by the precision and the professionalism of the fan-favorite Blue Angels, who fly just feet apart in a variety of formations, right-side-up and upside-down, at blistering speed.

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