With Careful Planning, Roinstads Help Get Air Show Off The Ground
Organizers Mike and Lori Roinstad are flying high on community support and sheer excitement in preparation for this weekend’s inaugural Yankton Air Show.
“We’ve kicked around the idea of having an air show,” said Mike Roinstad, airport supervisor at Yankton’s Chan Gurney Municipal Airport. “One day, Jake Hoffner sat down and said, ‘We can do this,’ and I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ It just snowballed from there.”
Though the group had an idea of the tasks involved, organizing what may be the first air show at Yankton’s airport was a new experience for all involved.
“It’s totally exciting,” Mike said. “It’s a learning experience, and we had lots of help.”
Both Mike and Lori said that support for the event was evident from the start.
“The community support has been fantastic,” Lori said. “Every radio station said, ‘Come down and talk to us.’ Everybody wants this to be a success.”
Planning for the show began back in November.
“We started from scratch,” Mike said. “We put together a board of directors and a group of volunteers to see if we could pull this off.”
The group determined that, though Labor Day weekend of 2019 was short notice in the air-show business, Yankton’s proposed show could go on that weekend, and Mike and Lori were drafted as organizers.
“Somebody said, ‘Oh, you were ‘volun-told.’ That was a new word,” Lori said, adding that she was already prepared to pitch in. “I think this is awesome. I love Yankton. I love anything that makes us look good and this is.”
Organizers contacted some of the acts that have performed in area air shows as a starting point.
“There are groups that this is what their job is; they do these performances,” Mike said. “We started calling them, and they said, ‘Yep.’”
The first call was to Gene Soucy, an air acrobatics pilot and owner of Gene Soucy Airshows in Houston, who gave the Roinstads some welcome guidance.
“He said, ‘If you are going to do this, do a full two days and get a full lineup. Do it right,’” Lori said.
The initial calls led to recommendations for other air-show acts and were followed by more calls until the two-day schedule was packed. Seven different acts are scheduled, including air acrobatics, mock combat sequences, wing walking, skydiving and synchronized flying.
The Roinstads have hired an air boss for the show and an announcer familiar with the acts, so they have been able to focus on the details of hosting such a large event.
VIP tickets to the event are much more than the regular gate fee, but those who carry them will have the option to attend tonight’s (Friday) practice run and pizza party, both days of the air show with catered lunches and snacks in the VIP hangar, and a Saturday night banquet at which the pilots will make an appearance to mingle with attendees.
“That’s where I got involved, the VIP hangar,” Lori said. “We provide chairs; there’s a bathroom in there so you don’t have to use Porta-Potties. It’s a step up.”
No outside food or drinks are allowed inside the gate due to FAA regulations, but there will be food trucks on site. Attendees are also asked to bring their own camp chairs.
Lori Roinstad and Sandy Hoffner are co-hosting the VIP hangar.
“I probably have about 10-12 volunteers that are going to come and help,” Lori said. “I am doing most of the cooking at home.”
Mike also has about 10-12 volunteers to make sure the crowd stays safe and in their designated areas.
“I am probably going to be bouncing around pretty much everywhere,” he said. “I believe, during the show, I am going to be up on the stage monitoring one of the radios for the air boss.”
As the airport supervisor, Mike still has his day job in addition to the mile-long list of tasks for the air show he has yet to get complete, he said.
“It will be at least until dark Thursday and then tonight, too,” he said.
“It’s been a high, but there’ve been a few times this week we’ve looked at each other and said, ‘What did we get ourselves into?’” Lori said. “I think it was Monday night, about 9 o’clock, when we were out scrubbing chairs for the VIPs.”
“But I am so excited for this,” she said.
The air show is set for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, at Chan Gurney Municipal Airport, 700 E. 31 St. in Yankton, from 1-3 p.m. The gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. There will be parking in the field around the airport. In case of rain, Yankton Middle School will have parking and a shuttle bus to the airport.