by David reneau
Photography by Julie Chapman
Denton Live Spring/Summer 2005
Jerry Bruckheimer films (Pearl Harbor, National Treasure) have taught American moviegoers many things over the years: that over-the-top special effects and chaotic chase scenes can make up for formulaic plots and sometimes lackluster storytelling, and, in the case of Bruckheimer’s Top Gun, that some people aren’t happy unless they’re “going Mach 2 with their hair on fire.”
Each May, some of those people, and many more who are simply intrigued by them, gather in North Texas for the annual Denton Air Fair. This year’s festival will take place on May 21, 2005 — Armed Forces Day, honoring the men and women who serve our nation — giving visitors a first hand look at the planes that have defended America’s past and present.
THE MEN WHO GOT IT OFF THE GROUND
A decade ago, the idea of an annual aviation event in Denton was hatched among local government leaders and aviation enthusiasts. In 1997, their idea culminated in the first Denton Air Fair, a spectacle that has since become a key feature among Denton’s long list of festivals and events.
Many of the organizers and founders of the Denton Air Fair are former service members. Dr. Don Smith, who has been involved in Denton area air shows for two decades and has been the Air Fair Committee’s chairman since 1999, is himself a former Air Force lieutenant. Smith is pleased that the event can be held in conjunction with a holiday honoring our nation’s armed forces and is enthusiastic about sharing the region’s rich flying heritage. “Since the 1930s, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has been a hotbed of aviation activity,” says Smith, who promises that this year’s event will continue the tradition of bringing top-notch flying talent and unique aircraft to North Texas.
Another man responsible for getting Air Fair off the ground is Ed Adcock, who became involved with the event after his career with the Federal Aviation Administration ended in 1999. As a former Marine Corps reservist, Army sergeant, and Korean and Vietnam war veteran, he realizes the important role that the air fair plays. “The event is a fabulous way to recognize our veterans,” says Adcock, who helps with fund-raising efforts, ground support, and advertising for the festival. “We [veterans] don’t ask for the recognition, but we do appreciate it.”
WHAT, AND WHO, YOU’LL SEE THERE
This year’s event gets started early on May 21 with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Ninety-Nines. An international group of female pilots, the Ninety-Nines were founded in 1929 by 99 female pilots (including aviation legend Amelia Earhart) to promote the advancement of aviation and provide opportunities for women within the aviation community.
While military aviation and its history definitely play a key role in the celebration, the air fair also showcases aerobatic and experimental aircraft, as well as planes from the general aviation community. Visitors will have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with these aircraft and listen to seminars on aviation safety conducted by the FAA’s Wings program. NASA will offer educational exhibits, and children will get the opportunity to meet and greet Jay Jay the Jet Plane from the popular PBS series.
In the afternoon, the excitement builds as the air fair features an assortment of aerobatic performers, aerial exhibitionists, and military displays. This year’s event features Air Fair’s own coordinator, Mike Galloway, and his modified Pitts S-1 biplane. Galloway is a former member of the United States’ Advanced Aerobatics Team and is an eight-year veteran of air shows throughout the country. Joining him in the afternoon are local aerobatic pilots David Martin and Zach Heffley, along with the wing-walking duo of Greg Shelton and Ashley Battles.
LEND A HAND
Just like any event of the Denton Air Fair’s magnitude, the show could not succeed without the dedicated efforts of its many volunteers who donate their time to the planning, organization, and event-day operations at the festival. Galloway says that the Denton Air Fair’s success in past years can be attributed to the “dedicated effort from the Air Fair Committee, Denton Airport staff, and many more hard-working volunteers to bring Denton a first-class air show with nationally recognized talent.”
Air fair volunteers come from all walks of life and include individuals from adult volunteer groups and aviation enthusiasts to ROTC and Civilian Air Patrol cadets.
For more information about getting involved in this year’s air fair, contact Air Fair Committee member Amanda Addington at (940) 484-1603.