IOWA CITY — Necks arched upward Saturday as thousands trained their gaze on an array of aircraft roaming the skies above Iowa City.
The Fly Iowa event returned to the city for the first time in more than a decade, and about 2,000 people ventured to the Iowa City Airport to watch the nearly two-hour air show that featured about a dozen acrobatic acts.
Paul Berge, air show announcer, called out hammer heads, corkscrews and rolls as pilots maneuvered their planes to near-vertical position before accelerating down for passes just slightly above the crowd.
Meggin Plassey, who attended the event with her husband and two daughters, said she enjoyed the “small, intimate” atmosphere,” which allowed for an up-close perspective during the show.
Pilot Erik Edgren said he got his start growing up in a flying family on their farm in Ottumwa before graduating into his role as a part-time air show performer. As a child, he said he would go to air shows and just be “enthralled.”
“I’m 45 years old, and I plan on doing this safely enough so I can do this for another 30 years ... and one day bounce a grandkid on my lap,” he said.
Edgren, who flies a clipped-wing aircraft, said one of his highlights is “the view from above,” where he can gaze out from the cockpit and see the world below.
But he said one of the best parts remains signing autographs for kids, who lined up along the runways at the end of each performer’s run.
Providing a segue for aviation to impact the children in attendance was a theme fellow pilots agreed on.
“I remember being that age and finding that inspiration,” Aaron Werner, left wing pilot for the Vanguard Squadron, said of the throngs of autograph-seekers.
Werner said he went to as many air shows as he could growing up, and that blossomed into a love for aviation.
Event organizers said the show provides a platform for the public to see the effect aviation has on the community.
“(It) gives people an opportunity to see that’s there’s more to (an airport) then just noisy planes flying overhead,” said John Moes, president of Fuel Design, which helped stage the event.
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