Jun 10, 2024 - News

Columbus Air Show returning for good

Six planes in the Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performing a flyover. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

A revived local air show is officially landing as a permanent fixture in Columbus.

Piloting the news: The Columbus Airshow returned for a test run last year after a lengthy hiatus and kicks off again Friday.

  • Organizers say three days of sellout crowds in 2023 convinced them to bring it back this year and they expect it to remain an annual event.

Why it matters: The show's mix of military aerobatic teams, drag racing prop planes and Maverick and Iceman (of "Top Gun" fame) impersonators make for a pretty unique afternoon of entertainment.

What they're saying: "Columbus was the largest city in the U.S. that did not have a regular air show," says Herb Gillen, a Columbus resident and native who organizes air shows all over the country but, until last year, hadn't yet been able to make one work in his hometown.

  • "I wanted an air show here for the people," Gillen tells Axios, "and it was amazing the kind of response we got."

What to expect: The Air Force Thunderbirds aerobatics team is headlining the event.

  • The group flies its F-16 Fighting Falcon jets as close as 18 inches apart and, "in their most extreme maneuvers," at speeds of more than 700 mph.

Other highlights include drag racing bush planes that will compete in the "Columbus Cup," as well as a miniature D-Day reenactment with armored vehicles, tanks and air support to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy, per Gillen.

  • In addition to the "Top Gun" impersonators, an actor portraying Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker is scheduled to work the crowd.
  • Gillen hopes this will introduce more people to the Columbus-born WWI fighter pilot for whom Rickenbacker International Airport is named.

ğŸŽŸï¸ If you go: The show is June 14-16 at the Rickenbacker airport, 2241 John Circle Drive.

  • General admission tickets cost $65, but some discounted tickets are still available for $45 Friday and Sunday. Parking costs $25-30.
  • Kids under 15 are free with a paying adult.
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