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The skies are alive in Tillsonburg. Between all the Harvard Fly Days and the 75th Anniversary, the previous CF-18 Hornet and Canadian Snowbirds show, and all the normal traffic, our airport is very busy place.

Coming up is Ontario South Coast Airshow & Family Festival. (South Coast? The Great Lakes comprise the south coast of Canada.) It is on Saturday, August 23, 2104 (Rain Date is August 24th) at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. and show time is at 1 p.m. General Admission: $15 Adult (13+ years); $10 Child (5-12 years) and Ages 4 & under FREE. There is a Family Pass (2 Adult and 2 Child) $40 (savings of $10) and Adult 4 Pack $55 (save $5). Parking at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport is included in the price of all admission tickets.

So what is this show all about? Well there is going to be a wide variety of aircraft to see, pilots to meet; and rides to take.

There will be a Pilot Meet & Greet BBQ on Friday, August 22nd: $20 All Ages. You will be at the BBQ with the performers before the show! Get the chance to meet and talk with pilots and ground crew. This meet and greet starts at 5 p.m., meal at 6 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance online & price does not include tickets to the air show.

On Saturday you can experience a Harvard! This Canadian Harvard experience will be available the day of the August 23rd Airshow. Visit www.harvards.com to register.

A few years ago I had the thrill of riding in one of Tillsonburg’s Harvards. It was a privileged experience, especially knowing the contribution it made training our boys for WWII. The awesome roar of those engines thundered in my head and heart for a long time afterward. I don’t remember the cost, but it was worth it. The Harvards, will of course, also participate in the actual air show.

Country View Helicopters will also be available for rides: Adults $60 each, and 12 and under $40 each.

This is an event for the whole family and the will actually have cool activities for the kids on Saturday: Bouncy rides, magician, balloon twister, face painting, tours, music and crafts run by the Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre. These are all included in the admission price.

If you want to splurge, there is the VIP admission of $55 Adult (13+ years), $30 Child (5-12 years), which includes VIP seating with shelter and chairs, preferred parking at the airport, meal and beverages. There is also a Photo Alley $40 for all ages which gives you access to exclusive front row viewing area close to the ramp where the aircraft taxi.

But what about the pilots and planes? Well, there will be Danny Richer and his BAC 167 Strikemaster, who will do an aerobatic routine in this former British jet-powered training and light attack aircraft.

Martin Mattes will be flying the Aero L-29 Delfin. Martin is a stunt pilot in movies.

Kent Pietsch is flying an Interstate Cadet which he will land on the rooftop of a moving RV!

Gord Price is flying a Russian military advanced aerobatic trainer, the Yak-50.

Michael Tryggvason returns to Tillsonburg where he flew in his first air show in 2012 in his Giles 202. His stunts are ‘advanced and very entertaining.’

The next two people at the show really interest me. First is pilot Bill Shepard who flies with the Commemorative Air Force, Red Tail Squadron. This is all about “the Tuskegee Airmen; the United States’ first black military pilots and their support personnel. Their success in triumphing over adversity during WWII can still inspire people of all ages to rise above obstacles they may face.”

The first time I read about the Tuskegee Airmen, I wondered if Canada or Britain allowed black people to fly. Yes they did! From what I read, it was pretty much only the U.S. that had the problem allowing all races to fly. One black, Canadian’s name many will recognize is Lincoln Alexander. As in the parkway off the 403 by Hamilton. Lincoln was not only a pilot, but became a lawyer and went into politics and became Ontario’s 24th Lieutenant Governor.

The second person of interest is a woman in this male dominated business. Captain Indira Thackorie is a proud member of the Canadian Armed Forces and has been the Public Affairs Officer and voice for the SkyHawks, Canadian Forces Parachute Team. She is also “the only 'solo' female airshow announcer working today in North America."

This looks to be a great airshow with tons of things to do, fantastic people to meet and wonderful stories and facts to learn. See you there!

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