Things will be moving mighty quickly at the Olympic Air Show this weekend.
The event – and the high-flying shows that are its centerpiece – will be just as long as ever, with a USO-style show wrapping up Saturday afternoon.
It’s the planes that will be faster.
“The Olympic Air Show was selected for a number of military jet demonstrations this year,” said Teri Thorning, executive director of the Olympic Flight Museum.
The jets will be a Navy F/A-18 Hornet; an Air Force F-16 Viper, also known as a Fighting Falcon; and an Air Force F-4 Phantom.
This is the first time the Vietnam-era Phantom has been exhibited in the Northwest. “It’s a rare and coveted heritage flight,” Thorning said.
Of the other jets, she said, “The F/A-18 Hornet is the same plane that the Blue Angels fly. The F-16 is the same plane that the Thunderbirds fly.”
Faster planes also tend to be a bit louder. Thorning will have earplugs available at the show, just in case.
The Air Force planes won’t land at the Olympia Regional Airport. Both will take off from McChord Air Force Base and do maneuvers over Thurston County skies as part of the show.
“The Air Force has a steadfast rule about having a 7,000-foot runway in order to land, and we only have 5,500 feet here,” said Chuck Manley, the museum’s volunteer crew chief. “For the Navy guys, though, 5,500 feet is five aircraft carriers long, so they can land.”
Not one but two Hornets will land at the airport; the second is a backup for the show and will be on display at the show, which also features military encampments, children’s activities, a beer garden and a USO-style show by Beyond the Fringe.
Other highlights of the 12th annual show:
• A B25-D Mitchell named Grumpy, a medium bomber from the World War II era. Rides will be available on Grumpy for those who join the Historic Flight Foundation ($450).
• A pair of seven-eighths scale replicas of Nieuport 11 fighters, fighter planes from World War I. “There probably are no more original Nieuport 11s,” Thorning said. “The plane is actually the great-grandfather of our modern F-18s and F-22s.”
• A demonstration of the museum’s own Vietnam-era helicopters, flying in formation. “It is quite a sight to see three attack helicopters in formation demonstrate their maneuverability and their agility in a combat setting,” Thorning said.
Manley, who keeps the museum’s aircraft fueled and in good working order, is looking forward to that.
“I’m just a Vietnam vet and a helicopter guy,” he said. “In Vietnam, when you heard the old Huey helicopter, it had a distinct ‘wap-wap-wap,’ and you knew when things got bad that they were coming to get you.
“Everybody always loved the helicopters.”
Olympic Air Show
What: The 12th annual warbird-only show features two days of flight demonstrations and displays, encampments revisiting past wars, children’s activities and more.
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday (gates close at 5 p.m.) and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Opening ceremonies are at noon each day, aerial performances run from 1 to 4 p.m., and there’s a USO-style show at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Olympia Regional Airport, 7637-A Old Highway 99, Olympia
Cost: $12 in advance, $15 at the gate, free for ages 6 and younger
More information: 360-705-3925 or www.olympicflightmuseum.com
Of note: Pets (except service dogs with credentials), smoking and glass containers are prohibited on the show grounds.