At the Wings Over Wine Country air show, the planes are the biggest stars.
This year, the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor will make its first appearance at the event. Even if you’re not an expert, you’ll know which aircraft that is. It takes off vertically like a helicopter, then tilts its rotor blades to fly like a plane.
Pilots do get equal billing at next weekend’s two-day celebration of aviation at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.
For example, there’s Chuck Aaron and “Malibu,” his Red Bull Helicopter. Aaron is the only civilian-licensed pilot to fly an aerobatic routine in a helicopter, including back flips and 360-degree barrel rolls.
The list goes on, with Greg Colyer and his T-33 Shooting Star, the Korean-War-era, two-seat version of the P-80 fighter jet; Frank “Dr. D” Donnelly, and his clipped-wing Taylorcraft; Dan Buchanan with his NorthWing hang glider; and Jacquie Warda and her 300-horsepower Extra 300.
Gates open at 9 a.m. both Sept. 20-21 and the show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early arrivals with an appetite can have a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m.
Hosted by Santa Rosa’s Pacific Coast Air Museum, the festival has grown steadily in popularity since it started in 1997, evolving from an annual open house party launched in 1990. Now it draws from 20,000 to 25,000 fans annually.
“People come to the air show for all kinds of reasons,” said second-year festival director Wayne Seamans, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Some people have family members who flew these planes. Others just enjoy the design and aesthetics of the planes,” he said. “I don’t fly and I’m not a pilot, but I love airplanes,”
The air show also sponsors an exhibit of some 60 planes on the ground, roughly half of them from the Pacific Coast Air Museum and the rest fly-ins from as far away as Canada.
General admission costs $18 in advance and $20 at the gate for adults; $13 in advance and $15 at the gate for age 65 and older; $5 for children age 6-12; free for children 5 and younger.
Information, full schedule: wingsoverwinecountry.org. Or call 566-8380 or 575-7900.