The skies over Culpeper were once again alive with those magnificent men (and women) and their flying machines Saturday as Culpeper Regional Airport played host to its annual AirFest.
This year’s event was the sixteenth annual festival, hosted by Culpeper County at its airport on Beverly’s Ford Road from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The annual event gives the county the chance to show off its regional airport as residents from miles around come to view the demonstrations, enjoy the air shows and learn more about Culpeper-based aviation.
“We have friends who come to this show regularly,” said Kristie Compton of Spotsylvania County, who was visiting the Culpeper AirFest for the first time with her family Saturday.
“We go to the Oceana air show regularly, so we thought we’d try one of the local ones,” Compton said, “It’s really a great view here — you can see everything. At Oceana, the view is limited, but here there is a really great perspective.”
Compton said her young son, Bradley, is very interested in aviation and wants to be a pilot like his granddad when he grows up.
“My dad was in the Navy and served in Vietnam; he was the chief of the Nimitz,” Compton said.
Compton said the family enjoyed the AirFest enough that they plan to return to the event on a regular basis.
One of the event’s main attractions each year are the top notch pilots and vintage planes the air show attracts from across the nation.
Pilot Art Nalls was once again on hand with the world’s only privately owned F/A 2 Sea Harrier Jet, as was Chuck Tippett, a wing walker from Bealteton’s Flying Circus.
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The sizable crowd looked on intently from observation areas beside the airport runways Saturday afternoon as astronaut Joe Edwards flew a T-28 during the air show, followed by a parade of vintage WWII-era war birds which took to the skies over the airport.
The displays were not limited to aircraft, though, as the airport also featured a Culpeper Classics Car Show during the afternoon’s activities and a wide variety of food and other vendors.
Sammy Guseman, of Fluvanna County, said he most enjoyed sitting in a Thunderbird cockpit and simulating flying a plane.
“I also saw a simulator for a drone, and I ate a hamburger,” Guseman said.