ARLINGTON – The sound of vintage aircraft in the skies over Arlington, ground-level whir of illuminated drones in formation and colorful hot air balloons aglow at dusk can only mean one thing.
It’s time again for the Arlington Fly-In — coming Aug. 16-18 — including new giant remote-controlled flying jets and scale RC aircraft with wingspans wider than the person behind the controls.
The Fly-In attracts more than 50,000 aviation enthusiasts annually. They arrive by air and by the carload to celebrate general aviation, a weekend of aviation history and education, and cockpits of fun at Arlington Municipal Airport.
The 51st Annual Fly-In will feature air shows on Friday night and Saturday afternoon; vintage airplanes and warbirds in the air and on display; military vehicle processions, a Hot Air Balloon Night Glow; a drone light show and time to try your own hands on the controls; outdoor movies at Runway Theater; live music; hands-on activities for kids; and more.
Event organizers made the decision this year to jettison the Fly-In to its own weekend and away from the city’s crowded Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration and Street Fair events because hosting that many huge events close together was putting pressure on city staff, vendors, food trucks and suppliers.
Also, some of the Fly-In activities seeing more growing interest occur at night, such as the hot air balloon glow and drone light show, so moving the event to August is better for families since it gets darker earlier.
“It will be nice not having it during the week of the longest daylight of the year,” said Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert, the Fly-In’s executive director. “It’s more family friendly, shortening it up by an hour.”
Tolbert said the all-volunteer Fly-In goes to extra lengths to mix in new features with the traditional activities that regular visitors have come to appreciate.
This year’s event premiers the Northwest’s largest display of remote-controlled jets and scale RC aircraft, large-scale aircraft static displays and Turbine Jet and helicopter demonstrations featuring some of the best aircraft and pilots on the West Coast.
RC Aircraft hours are noon-6 p.m. Aug. 16; 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:15 to dusk Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (R29 full scale 1:30) and 3:30 p.m. to dusk.
The drones are back to put a modern spin on flying.
Light shows featuring several synchronized drones will illuminate the night, performing intricate maneuvers to create colorful formation shapes in air at about 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday on the Balloon Glow Field, just before the movies. Drone races will be held in the drone cage. Along with a Drone Boot Camp, drones will also be available for the public to try and fly with expert help.
The Hot Air Balloon Glow is set for Saturday beginning at about 8:20 p.m. and continuing to dark. This year the balloon glow will feature three specially shaped entries – a butterfly, cartoon alarm clock and speedy bird.
Live music takes the stage in the main entertainment tent and balloon glow field. Performances kick off at 5 p.m. on the balloon glow field opening with the Snohomish County Music Project. At 7 p.m., Seattle’s MOJO Big Band returns with modern big band jazz, while local classic rockers Aardvarks Utd. turn up the music on the balloon glow field, with the beat of a live song or two beats syncopated with the illuminated balloons.
Runway Theater starts at about 9:45 p.m. with aviation-themed films, featuring “Spirit of St. Louis” on Friday and “First Man” on Saturday.
Camp Adams opens at noon on Friday. The mainstay attraction at the Fly-In hosted by the North Pacific Marine Corps is the largest public gathering of former military vehicles, aircraft, weapons and equipment displays in the West, used during WWII, Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts.
Hands-on activities for children round out the fun.
General admission is $17 per person, or $40 for a three-day event pass. Ages 15 and younger are free, and so is parking.
Ticket price entry on Saturday switches from $17 per person to $20 per carload starting at 6 p.m. For the carload price you must arrive at 6 p.m. or later. Both types of tickets can be bought online at www.arlingtonflyin.org.