Thousands of people turned out Saturday to watch vintage aircraft take flight at the 15th annual Olympic Air Show.
“I love aviation,” said Jimmy Walker, who watched the planes and helicopters with 5-year-old daughter Janae while sitting in lawnchairs near the Olympia Regional Airport tarmac. He said he was especially interested in the show’s vintage planes.
“There’s just something amazing about how reliable they were,” Walker said.
The Olympic Air Show continues Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Olympic Flight Museum on the northeast corner of Olympia Regional Airport. It features World War II biplane rides, antique airplanes on display, food and plenty of aerobatic performances.
Saturday’s show opened with an appearance by an eight-horse team of Budweiser Clydesdales hitched to a 1903 Studebaker-built beer wagon. Each horse was about 18 hands high (about 6 feet) and weighed about 2,000 lbs., said Doug Bousselot, supervisor of the Budweiser West Coast team. They travel to hundreds of events each year.
“Every horse here was in the last commercial,” Bousselot said.
Watching the horses in awe, Heather McRae of Lacey snapped a lot of photographs.
“We were interested in the air show, but when we saw that they were here, we were like, ‘Let’s go now,’ ” she said.
McRae recalled seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales for the first time as a young child with her grandpa in St. Cloud, Minn.
“It brings me back to my childhood,” McRae said. “Just the nostalgia — it’s just an American symbol.”
The Olympic Air Show is traditionally held during Father’s Day weekend. Since the weather has always been iffy, organizers decided to move it to July.
But then organizers learned that sequestration was grounding military aircraft at air shows around the country.
About 35 air shows canceled because of that, but the Olympic Air Show decided to embrace the idea of returning back to its roots, according to coordinator Teri Thorning.
“Our emphasis this year went to the Golden Age of aviation,” she said.
The show had to be rescheduled for August to accommodate civilian pilots’ schedules.
This year, show-goers can get a close look at the 1909 Bleriot XI replica that was featured in the movie “Amelia.”
Eric Presten of Sonoma, Calif., said his wife and sons helped build the 27-foot plane in 2009.
“We built the whole airplane in 26 days,” he said.
Presten is an aviation photographer and author who participates in several air shows each year. He said he loves his work — especially when he gets to fly.
“I think mostly it’s just the freedom and having control of what’s around you,” Presten said. “It’s the whole man-versus-the-elements thing.”