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Thunder in the Valley returns to Columbus for 14th year

See vintage military aircraft, remote-control flight demonstrations, aerobatic performances and more at the Thunder in the Valley Air Show March 19 and 20 at the Columbus Municipal Airport. Gates are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The annual event, currently in its 14th year, is a local institution.

“For the last three years our attendance has ranged between 23,000 and 30,000 spectators,” said Phaedra Childers, event coordinator for the show. “Last year, we had the largest one-day attendance: 18,000. For families cutting costs, the ticket price is low and the entertainment value is very high.”

Tickets for military are $6 in advance and $8 at the gate. Kids 6 and younger get in free, and free parking is available.

For those who’ve attended before, there are a few unique additions this year, such as an appearance from the Flagship Detroit, the oldest-flying DC-3 in the world, marking the 75th anniversary of the Douglas DC-3.

“One of the highlights of the 2011 Thunder in the Valley Air Show is a specialty performance in which Skip Stewart flies his aircraft down the runway beneath jumping motorcycles,” Childers said. “Skip was the first, and as far as we know, is the only pilot who regularly performs this stunt at an air show.”

Other performers include Patty Wagstaff, a gold medalist at the international aerobatic level and U.S. National Aerobatic champion, and Mark Sorenson, who flies a plane known as Titus the Tumbling Tiger. Fort Benning’s Silver Wings are scheduled to open the show.

The family event also features airplane and helicopter rides, a military encampment experience, a kids’ carnival, hands-on weapons simulators and vendors selling great food, Childers said.Proceeds from the nonprofit event are donated to youth organizations and charities throughout the Chattahoochee Valley, she said.

General admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the gate. Groups of 100 or more can receive a discount for $7 tickets in advance.

For more information, visit www.thunderinthevalleyairshow.com or call 706-580-3767.

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