Saturday, May 31, 2014

Deke Slayton Airfest 'one to look forward to': La Crosse Municipal Airport (KLSE), Wisconsin



The beautiful weather brought thousands of people to the first day of the Deke Slayton Airfest Saturday.

Organizers are thanking the beautiful weather because they believe Saturday is the biggest crowd ever at Airfest.

There are a lot of things that set the Deke Slayton Airfest apart from others like it.

Traveling to more than 20 events each year, Phil Dacy has announced plenty of airshows.

"I've been doing air shows now as an air show announcer for about 25 years," Dacy said.

He said the Deke Slayton Airfest ranks toward the top of his list.

"It's one of the best. La Crosse has always been one that we look forward to this airport site," Dacy said.

"You look around here and you see the bluffs, the hills, the tree-covered hills, that type of thing. The pilots absolutely love it, it's so spectacular for the viewing area. To watch here at Airshow Center there is no obstructions, it's just a great place for an air show," he said.

Davy has been the announcer at Airfest since 1999 and said Saturday was a perfect day for an airshow.

"I've got a tremendous view up on the top there," he said. "After the long winter it's great to have a beautiful day like this with the Blue Angels here in town, all of our great civilians, we're going to see some war birds here, we have a chance to honor some of our veterans."

"I've been involved with each and every Airfest since we started them and I can tell you this is the best one day ever that we've ever had," Pat Stephens, media director for Deke Slayton Airfest, said.

Being here since the beginning, Stephens has learned how valuable a beautiful day can be for Airfest.

"It brings a lot of extra coin into the area as well. I think our lodging, most of our places are filled tonight, it's good for the restaurants, it's good for the gas stations, it's good for the Valley View Mall and so on. Downtown merchants love it, it's a win-win for everybody. More important than that it's such a great community event," Stephens said.

After announcing hundreds of airshows Dacy has seen his share of great performers in the air. But his favorite part sits below.

"The best part of the day for me as announcer is just having fun with all the great air show fans here. Hearing the crowds cheer for the different pilots, the different performers, seeing things they don't get a chance to see everyday," Dacy said.

Organizers said the Coulee Region is very fortunate to have a regional airport here in La Crosse. They said the planes, like the Blue Angels, require a lot of space to perform their stunts.

The Deke Slayton Airfest is going strong all weekend. Gates reopen Sunday at 9 a.m. and performances start up at noon.



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