Dayton Air Show will feature MQ-9 Reaper drone for the first time

T-34 Association will also help celebrate the 50th Dayton Air Show.

For the first time, visitors to the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show next month will be able to see a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone up close, parked on the tarmac at Dayton International Airport.

The 2024 air show will be June 22 to 23 at the airport. Organizers are counting the event as the 50th anniversary show, tracing the show’s origin to an early “Aviation Days” showcase at what was the Dayton General Airport in 1974.

Worth about $30 million each, the MQ-9 Reaper cuts a familiar silhouette and is a formidable figure that has remained in the news reliably since its introduction in 2007. Most recently, leaders of Ukraine have asked for the weapon in their defensive fight against the Russian invasion.

The Air Force says the drone can handle intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, close air support of troops on the ground, combat search and rescue, precision strikes and more.

It’s the first time the remotely piloted Reaper has visited the Dayton show. It’s expected to arrive Friday June 21, and will be parked behind the show’s main gate, behind Wright Brothers Aero Inc.

“We have a Reaper which will be here at the show this year, which will be unique for the show,” said Kevin Franklin, president of Wright Brothers Aero and executive director of the show. “It’s going to be a great, great 50th anniversary show.”

This particular Reaper hails from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.



This year’s show will feature more ground displays (or parked vehicles and planes) than ever, close to 120, with some 80 more elaborate exhibits, Franklin said.

Among this year’s “static displays” will be a B-25 Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

The headline performers at this year’s show will be the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerobatic team, flying F/A-18 Super Hornets that reach top speeds of 1.4 MACH (1,190 mph).

And though the Air Force Thunderbirds team have a weekend set aside for training during the Dayton Air Show, Franklin said organizers were not able to schedule them to perform as well — though Dayton organizers tried.

“I wish,” he said. “We tried to work that out. Unfortunately, they have training commitments, and they will not be making the show.”

Also on the agenda for this year’s show: A visit from the T-34 Association, a group of enthusiasts for the T-34 trainers once used by the Air Force and the Navy.

The association will have at least 16 T-34s in the show, eight as static displays on the ground and eight flying in the show at some point, member Jim Clark said.

“That never gets old,” Clark said of entertaining show crowds. “From my seat, from my perspective, what I see is a lot of people with their heads just looking up at the sky and just watching us fly. What I particularly enjoy is the children. Their eyes — I mean, you can see them from space.”

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