Air festival celebrates century of flight

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Greek legend recalls Icarus, who flew through the air but died when he soared too close to the sun. Chinese records document human attempts to glide through the air by attaching themselves to kites. Leonardo da Vinci envisioned key components of flight, including the structure of wings, landing gear and even devices for directional control.

Centuries before Orville and Wilbur Wright, man longed to fly.

But what those two bicycle mechanics accomplished on that North Carolina morning of Dec. 17, 1903 -- that first 12-second, 120-foot journey on the sands of Kitty Hawk -- forever changed the world.

Powered flight revolutionized travel and commerce, altered the way we fought wars and even made space flight possible some 50 years later. Air travel seemed to shrink the size of the world. The invention of powered flight was truly a turning point in history.

That's why the annual Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival, which commemorates the 100th year of powered flight, will be so special this weekend.

Returning after 2001's terrorist attacks interrupted the annual air show, the event will be held July 11-13 at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

Organizers say it promises to be the largest air show in the festival's history, a bold statement considering that in past years as many as 10,000 people have attended.

The festival, known as "Heroes & Legends, a Celebration of a Century of Flight," will feature a variety of vintage and modern aircraft as well as performances by pilots and skydivers from around the world.

A number of flight demonstrations will show how far aviation has come in 100 years.

The Air Force's F-16 Viper West flight demonstration will perform combat maneuvers. Lima Lima, the world's only civilian six-plane formation aerobatics team, is this year's featured act.

The festival will also include performances by the All-American Free Fall sport parachute team and the Navy's F-18 Hornet strike fighter. One of the show's highlights will be a heritage flight, in which the Air Force's F-16 jet will team up with a World War II-era fighter plane.

Certainly, if the Wright Brothers were somehow able to witness the awesome aviation display that will take place at the airport this weekend, it would be enough to render them speechless.

One can't help but wonder, if we were somehow able to travel 100 years into the future, what aviation would look like in the year 3003.

If the last 100 years are any indication, we probably would be rendered speechless as well.

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