Fans brave heat to see acts at the Cape Girardeau airport

Sunday, July 8, 2007
Siblings Tanner Mitchell, 3, and Shaunna Mitchell, 6, kept track of pilot Skip Stewart while perched atop their red Radio Flyer wagon Saturday at the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival. (Kit Doyle)

The sun did its best to discourage Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival fans Saturday, but thousands of fans came despite the heat as the two-day event wrapped up with day and evening shows.

With a 92-degree temperature during the 3:30 p.m. show, most were hunting for shady spots to view the action as several festivalgoers reported the day was just "too hot."

"They could make it cooler out here," said Cape Girardeau resident Bill Hannon, laughing, while finding shade under a hangar. "It's pretty good, though. A lot of people are here. It's just a little warm."

Some came prepared with umbrellas to find refuge from the sun. Others, like Greg Hartle of Scott City, didn't seem to mind the heat at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport at all.

"I have to work out in the heat from daylight to dark, so it's not really bothering me today," Hartle said.

Children enjoyed not only the aircraft in the sky but the displays of experimental and military aircraft on the ground as well.

"My little boy enjoys it a lot," said Mikia Langston of Cape Girardeau. "He has enjoyed the kid's area they have over here. He likes to look at the Army and Navy stuff, and he's been impressed with the planes and the jets they have here."

The Southeast Missourian Jr. Fun in the Sun Kiddie Area featured an obstacle course, slide and mascot Tracker.

As far as stunts went, everyone seemed to have their own favorite, although the Red Baron Pizza Squadron routine, in which biplanes perform barnstorming maneuvers, was mentioned by several. Hartle, however, said he enjoyed Paul Stender's jet-powered vehicles.

"I'm a pretty big automobile freak, honestly, so I like the jet-powered Dodge," Hartle said. "My wife is big on the planes and jets and stuff, but I like the jet-powered truck."

Many Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival attendees used umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. (Kit Doyle)

For some, the main attraction wasn't the aircraft.

"I like the planes, but the skydivers are awesome," Hannon said. "I used to jump 30 or 40 years ago myself, and it's cool to watch them jump. It's changed a lot."

Other events included crowd-pleasing Otto the Helicopter, which had a 75-pound yo-yo, ran barrel races and dropped bubble gum for the children. A low-flying F/A-18 Super Hornet zoomed over the crowd, and Troy Widgery demonstrated his jet pack, similar to what James Bond used the movie "Thunderball." Widgery can travel up to 83 mph in the jet pack. John Mohr was all noise and smoke in a routine that brought his 1943 Stearman airplane within mere feet of the ground, and aerobatic champion pilot Skip Stewart spun and dived in his specialized Pitts S-25.

The air festival, combined with a classic car show and softball tournament in town, caused a bit of trouble for travelers in need of a hotel room in the area. Nearly every hotel in Cape Girardeau reported reservations at or near capacity for the past week.

"I know some of the crowd is with the air show and many are here for the classic car show as well," said Su Kelsay, front desk attendant at the Victorian Inn. "The first wave came in on Monday, and it's been pretty full since then. We've had some cancellations, but we've been filling those quickly."

Bridon McClelland, 5, of Advance, Mo., tried to get every last drop of water from his bottle Saturday during the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival. (Kit Doyle)

Air festival staff estimated Friday's attendance at 2,000 and said Saturday's figure would be higher. Saturday's attendance figure was not available by press time.

jsamons@semissourian.com

Large ear muffs helped Conner Wissinger, 2, deal with the noise of the Cape Gir~ardeau Regional Air Festival on Saturday.

335-6611

Kerri Doyal, left, Austin Doyal, 9, Josh Doyal, 2, and Larry Wagner watched the Trojan Flyers perform maneuvers at the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival on Saturday. (Kit Doyle)
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