After postponing the airshow last October due to the federal government’s shutdown, organizers are thrilled to announce that the 21st Annual Boshears Skyfest and Fly-In is set to take off this weekend at Daniel Field Airport and they are expecting more planes participating this year than ever before.
Gates open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27, with the opening ceremony beginning at 1:30 p.m. each day.
Prices are $15 in advance (advanced tickets are available at area Circle K stores and Augusta Aviation or you can order online at boshears.com) or tickets are $18 at the gate. Children under 12 get in free with any adult ticket purchase.
As always, the show will feature skydivers, aerobatics, helicopter rides, radio-controlled models, a parachute team, carnival rides and precision formation flying.
This year, Boshears Skyfest is also pleased to invite general aviation aircraft with their pilots, families and friends to the event. Planes must arrive before 1:30 p.m.
All those who fly into Daniel Field in an aircraft will be allowed to attend the air show for free and a goody bag will be available for them which includes a $10 gift certificate to Aircraft Spruce — while supplies last.
For instructions regarding the guidelines to flying into Daniel Field Airport prior to the air show, visit boshears.com.
With a combination of incredible airplanes, talented pilots and beautiful spring weather, this year’s Skyfest is sure to please.
Included in this year’s show is The Stearman Squadron, a group of pilots who will be flying Stearman biplanes in breathtaking formations over Daniel Field.
“The Stearman was used by both the Navy and the Army Air Corps as a primary trainer in World War II,” said Stearman pilot John Laughter, who will be participating in this weekend’s air show. “There were some other planes used, such as the Waco UPF and the Fairchild PT-19, but the Stearman was by far the best and most numerous trainer. About 8,000 were built. It is a solid airplane but challenging enough to test the skills of any pilot, certainly a primary student.”
Laughter, who earned his wings in 1966, flew Navy fighters until June of 1973.
“I flew the F-8 Crusader for two tours to Vietnam for the aircraft carriers Oriskany and Ticonderoga,” he said. “I then flew the F-4 Phantom for a couple of years with one cruise on the (USS) Forrestal.”
After Vietnam, Laughter became a commercial pilot and ended his 30-year airline career with Northwest Airlines.
While he has flown many different types of planes over the years, Laughter has a great love for the Stearman.
“It is always a great time for us when we get to fly a World War II aviator in the Stearman. Without exception they have fond memories of their military time in the airplane,” he said. “I have enjoyed every airplane I ever flew, but the Stearman is the one that is as much fun as it looks like it will be. There’s something about the open cockpit, the radial engine, the two wings and all the struts and braces that makes it special.”
When in the sky, Laughter said his group particularly enjoys showing audiences the diamond formation.
“It looks good, feels good and is more maneuverable than the echelon,” Laughter said, explaining that is when all of the airplanes are arranged diagonally. “At Boshears, we will probably fly five airplanes and be in a vee formation, then a diamond with a stinger and an echelon.”
But Laughter said one of the most important formations that The Stearman Squadron performs is the “missing man” formation.
“I’d have to say that the most rewarding and meaningful formation we fly is the ‘missing man’ that we do for memorial services,” Laughter said. “We’ve done a lot of them and it is always meaningful to the families. As one of our pilots often says, ‘This is an honor, and our duty.’”
For Laughter, flying has always been a huge part of his life and he loves getting the opportunity to introduce his love for airplanes to children and families across the country at air shows.
“Airplanes were always fascinating to me,” he said. “I remember at a very early age planning to be a fighter pilot and then flying for an airline. My hero, Uncle Earl Andreasen, was a Stearman instructor during World War II and an airline pilot. My mom and dad were also pilots. So, I first soloed an Aeronca Champ in 1960 at Meyer Flying Service in Hendersonville, N.C.”
From that very first flight, Laughter said he was hooked.
“After my 30-year airline career, I’m now happy to be back where I started,” Laughter said. “With little airplanes and grass runways.”