The friendly skies over Culpeper this weekend will again be abuzz with the sights and sounds of the annual Culpeper Regional Airport’s AirFest.
The 17th annual AirFest—which the county is touting as “the best little air show in the east”—will be held Saturday, Oct. 8 at the county airport at 12517 Beverlys Ford Road in Brandy Station from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is no charge to attend the AirFest, said event coordinator Dan Haug.
“Of course this event is very weather-dependent,” Haug said. “We think we’re going to have good weather this year from what we’re hearing so far. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Haug said free parking and shuttle services will be available from Culpeper County High School and Eastern View High School beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The event will be held rain or shine, although some of the scheduled displays might be affected by inclement weather.
The airport will be closed to transient traffic beginning at noon on Friday in preparation for the facility to once again serve as the point of origin for a multi-aircraft flyover of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery at roughly 12:30 Friday afternoon.
At that time, approximately 20 World War II-era aircraft will take off from the Culpeper airport and fly in formation above the Potomac River.
The flight over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery is in honor of the non-profit group, Disabled American Veterans, and pays tribute to their service and sacrifice for the country.
For Saturday’s main event, Haug suggests festival goers bring folding chairs, ear protection and sunscreen in preparation for an afternoon of entertaining and educational displays at the county airport.
Haug said there are about 35 vendors registered to provide food, drinks, merchandise, or to oversee arts and crafts projects and a variety of youth-oriented activities.
Haug said the classic auto show will be back this year, with its display again set up by the airport’s entrance.
“At about 11 a.m. will will have a drone race—that’s new this year,” Haug said.
Jumbo screens and video crews will be brought in for the first time this year so that all AirFest visitors can see the drone races, pilot interviews and other activities, he said.
Haug said the morning will feature mainly radio-controlled demonstrations, while the afternoon will highlight the AirFest’s popular aerial shows.
At about 12:20, the afternoon activities will begin with a tribute to the memory of local aviation instructor and Angel Flight Board Chairman J.J. Quinn, who died last May in a plane crash in Orange County while giving a flight lesson.
Among the afternoon attractions will be pilot Art Nalls flying his Harrier jet, the world’s only privately owned Harrier, Haug said.
Also the Bealeton Flying Circus will perform during the afternoon.
Haug said Manfred Radius of Canada will be performing for the first time at this year’s AirFest with his modern German glider.
“He performs to classical music, “ Haug said. “I’ve seen his show before and it is very elegant and beautiful.”
In addition to the scheduled shows and other activities, visitors can tour the airport, talk with the pilots at the facility and view the restored antique and classic planes, fighters, military trainers, warbirds, helicopters and jets, Haug said.
Haug said a record crowd of close to 10,000 people are expected to attend the AirFest this year.
“Last year, we had a record-breaking crowd of about 8,000 people,” Haug said. “We try to keep improving the event year after year.”