Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rockford AirFest 2014: 6 things to know before you go - Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD), Illinois

Rockford AirFest 2014 and thousands of air show fans return next Saturday and Sunday to Chicago Rockford International Airport after a one-year sequester hiatus. 

U.S. military acrobatic jet teams were grounded by automatic budget cuts in 2013, and losing the headline act forced organizers here and around the country to cancel air shows last year.

While the sequester prohibits many military planes from being put on display, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been cleared to return to the show business, and Rockford AirFest 2014 is ready to launch. 

The theme of this year’s show, Honoring Heroes, focuses on the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. 

About 100 Vietnam vets are invited to the show.  

1. What should I bring? 
A daily ticket. Buy an advanced ticket through Sunday at area Culver’s restaurants or at, and they’re $20. Starting Monday, the price is $30. Tickets are sold by the carload, meaning one ticket will get you, your family and friends, and your car into the event. Sunscreen, hats, folding chairs, cameras, wagons and strollers, ear plugs and ID, if you want to buy alcohol, are recommended. Gates open at 9 a.m. Performances begin at 11 a.m. 

 2. What can’t I bring? 
No food and drinks (available at the show); no pets (service dogs are allowed); no coolers, bikes or skateboards.  
3. Who is performing?  
The Thunderbirds are the big draw. Their counterparts from the north, Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds celebrate their 90th anniversary with one of only five U.S. appearances this year. The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team will drop in again. Other performers include precision aerobatic fliers Team Aerostars; Team AeroDynamix, which bills itself as the world’s largest airship team; former U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Champion Mike Goulian; Paul Wood of Warbird Heritage Foundation: John Klatt Airshows, Art Nall’s Sea Harrier, Firebirds and Dave Dacy Airshows from Harvard, Illinois.  

4. Is there anything for kids? 
Yes. There will be inflatable rides. For $5, you can ride the Rockford Ice Hogs’ Hamboni.   

5. What’s different this year? 
There will be more vintage warbirds from eras spanning World War II and Vietnam, and few modern military aircraft this year because of the sequester. Preferred seating is available for an extra charge. 

6. How do I get there? 
From the west, take U.S. 20 Bypass to South Main Street, then south to the airport. From the east, take U.S. 20 Bypass to 11th Street and enter the airport on Airport Drive. Rockford drivers are advised to take 11th Street as South Main Street is under construction and travel may be slow.

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