The smoke and noise in the sky attracted more than 1,000 spectators to the Northwest Illinois Airshow Saturday at Albertus Airport in Freeport.
The last time there was an airshow at the local airport was in the 1990s.
Local businessman Mark Mannino of Freeport sought to bring the airshow back after a long year spent indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mannino, who has two small businesses in downtown Freeport, said he is an aviation buff and has spent the last couple of years trying for the return of a family-friendly airshow in Freeport.
He said he contracted with the Dacy Airshow a couple of years ago, and then COVID happened. After the success of the show on Saturday, Mannino said, “I wanted to get people hooked, and next year we plan to be bigger and better.”
“With people beginning to come out of COVID, these types of family-friendly events are what we need,” Mannino said. “And who doesn’t get excited about an airshow? … I could see the crowd get more excited with each airplane in the sky.”
Angie Janssen, Albertus Airport Manager, said the weather could not have been better for the return of an airshow in Freeport.
She worked closely with Mannino and Phil Dacy of the Dacy Airshow to make sure the crowd got the show they expected.
“It feels good to get an airshow off the ground at the airport again,” Janssen said. “Airplanes are my life, and this is a great way to showcase and bring awareness to aviation.”
Dacy was the announcer of the airshow.
“Freeport has an amazing airport for a show like this,” he said. “Albertus Airport is a first-class airport and a gateway to the world. We hope to be back next year.”
The airshow brought antique warbirds, aerobatics and barnstorming aircraft to the sky. Smoke billowed from the planes as the pilots entertained the crowd with turns, spins and loops in the sky.
Mark and Phyllis Kilgore of Valparaiso, Indiana, flew their own plane to attend the event.
The couple viewed planes on display and took pictures. Mark Kilgore said they had never been to Freeport before Saturday.
“What a great event,” he said. “Airshows are a unique way for people who love aviation to bond, have some fun and get away into the sky for a day.”
Next year’s Northwest Illinois Airshow will take place on Sept. 17, 2022, at Albertus Airport in Freeport.