After taking a year off due to the pandemic, AIRSHOW is back at the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport, featuring modern military aircraft demonstrations for the first time in a decade.
AIRSHOW is put on by the Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which moved its headquarters and museum — and air show, formerly “Air Fiesta” — to the county airport from Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport in 2018.
Among this year’s performers Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2-3, are the Aeroshell formation aerobatic team flying World War II-era AT-6 Texans, Nathan Hammond in a Super Chipmunk monoplane, Jacquie Warda performing in her EXTRA 300, Aaron Taylor flying a 1940s Stearman biplane and Mike “Spanky” Galloway in his EXTRA 300/SX.
There will be a Pearl Harbor reenactment with pyrotechnics, World War II aircraft including P-51 Mustangs, a B-25 Mitchell bomber and a number of vintage trainers and liaison aircraft. Then there’s modern military — specifically the A-10 Warthog close air support (CAS) aircraft.
“We just learned about that three weeks ago,” said AIRSHOW organizer David Hughston. “We’ve been trying to get it all year, but it was on again, off again … and then finally three weeks ago they called us and said they can send the A-10. We had to really swing into action. It’s challenging because there’s a lot of ground support equipment that we have to have to support the crew and the planes. None of that equipment is available locally, so we had to make arrangements in San Antonio.”
There will also be a “heritage flight” both days featuring the Warthog flying in formation with a World War II-vintage plane, he said.
“They do a number of different passes and maneuvers and it’s really impressive,” Hughston said.
This year for the first time ever AIRSHOW will offer a free preview at South Padre Island starting around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, he said. The aerobatics will take place over Laguna Madre and will feature twilight and nighttime performances by Hammond and the Aeroshell team, Hughston said.
“They’ll be performing right before dark, and then we’ve got … Hammond, who does a night show when it’s pitch black,” he said. “He’s got pyrotechnics coming off his airplane. All sorts of lights. It’s really breathtaking. The night show will probably be over around 8:15 or 8:30.”
Hughston said organizers had been wanting to do a night show at the Island for years and in fact would have had one last year if AIRSHOW 2020 hadn’t been canceled.
“We thought it made sense,” he said. “We’ve done night shows in Brownsville before. So we thought it would be really cool to do it over the bay. Stage center will be the entertainment district. Any place along there, you’ll have a front-row seat.”
The preview show is being supported by the SPI Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hughston said.
AIRSHOW tickets are available online and at the gate on Saturday and Sunday. To accommodate patrons uncomfortable with being in a crowd, ticket-holders can also view the show from the parking lot while listening to the announcer over FM radio, Hughston said.
Gates open at 10 a.m. and the flying starts at 1 p.m., he said.
Tickets are $20 a piece for adults. Children 12 and under get in free. AIRSHOW will also feature a vintage car show, kiddie village and flea market/trade show. Hughston said the event was successful in attracting a number of sponsors this year and that the SPI CVB “was a huge help.”
He noted that AIRSHOW is an all-volunteer effort.
“We’re all volunteers,” he said. “This is a completely South Texas event. We don’t hire outside promoters to come in and put the show on. We do it ourselves. All the money that is raised by the airshow goes to support the museum and take care of the airplanes that are in our care.”
Tickets and information: rgvcaf.org/airshow21.html