FARGO — The Fargo AirSho returns for a weekend of aerial feats and wonders Saturday, July 20-21 at Hector International Airport.
And 30 years after the United States Air Force Thunderbirds helped kick off the very first AirSho in 1989, they’ll return to fly over Fargo once more as the featured act.
But there are also a few acts to look forward to that might be a bit more unexpected:
Pilot Jeff Boerboon will perform an act with a plane called the Yak 110 project. The Yak 110 is a Frankenstein-like engineering feat that combines two Yak 55 Aircrafts, appearing as two planes conjoined at the side.
The RedBull skydive team, which consists of four aerial acrobats, will perform heart-racing wing suit and free fall routines from 3000 meters above the ground.
PiNN-iT FMX will offer thrills for motorcycle enthusiasts in one of the largest freestyle motocross stunt programs in the nation.
Black Sheep Skid, a one -man show featuring skid steer operator Jake Hatch as he performs stunts on this piece of equipment more typically used for construction or landscaping.
Guests will also have the chance to explore a variety of aircraft on display.
In addition to the planes and war birds on display at the Fargo Air Museum, two helicopters and five more aircraft, including the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey — a military aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities that combines the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft — will be available for walk-throughs.
The show will run 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Gates will open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.
“They’re going to get five hours of wholesome family entertainment," event co-chair Dick Walstad said. “These are some of the top performers in the world.”
The AirSho is typically put on every two years, but is continuing this year because the Thunderbirds agreed to perform.
"It’s stiff competition to see where they go," Walstad said, because the Thunderbirds only perform 35 shows in the U.S. in a year.
"We made a pest of ourselves, so they finally said, 'Okay, we’ll come to Fargo,' " he said.
The Thunderbirds are set to perform as the closing act, but the show does not generally publish a lineup with specific start times because schedules are subject to change due to a variety of factors, including inclement weather, which there is a risk of on Saturday, and mechanical difficulties.
The show is not merely a source of entertainment for the metro area, Walstad said. It’s also a deeply embedded part of the community.
The show donated nearly $200,000 of profit from its 2018 run to local organizations. A portion of that money goes to the Fargo Air Museum, Roger Maris Cancer Center, organizations that help work the show and other area nonprofits.
Walstad said the planning committee expects the show to draw about 15,000-20,000 spectators on Saturday and about 10,000-15,000 on Sunday, weather permitting.
Parts of 19th Avenue will be closed before and during the show. A map of routes to Hector airport with available parking can be found here.
Walstad reminded guests that while there will be VIP tickets for sale that come with seats, standard ticket holders are free to bring blankets and chairs to sit on and umbrellas for shade. Guests may not bring large bags, outside food or beverages (other than water) or coolers for security reasons.
Adult tickets start at $30 and all tickets can be purchased online. A variety of concessions will be available for purchase.
This year's AirSho will be the first Walstad puts on after the death of his longtime partner Maj. Gen. Darrol Schroeder, who helped found the first AirSho and the Fargo Air Museum. Schroeder passed away at age 88 in March.
"Darrol and I worked together for 30 years doing shows, and he was a very experienced pilot with thousands of hours of flying jet fighter planes and everything else that flies," Walstad said. "We're doing a dedicated display to him on Friday with his daughter, and his grandson, and some other family members."