30,000 attend Minden Aviation Roundup weekend | RecordCourier.com

30,000 attend Minden Aviation Roundup weekend

by Caryn Haller
Special to The R-C
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in their F-16 Falcon's were the main attraction this weekend at the Aviation Roundup at Minden-Tahoe Airport.
Brad Coman |

What: Aviation Roundup

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today

Where: Minden-Tahoe Airport, 1146 Airport Road, Minden

Information, tickets: www.aviationroundup.com

Minden, Nev. — Aviation Roundup guests left this weekend’s show with cricks in their necks, but smiles on their faces.

The Thunderbirds and other performers drew a weekend crowd of about 30,000 spectators to the Minden-Tahoe Airport, according to Manager Bobbi Thompson.

“I don’t miss an air show if I have an opportunity to go,” Los Angeles-based private pilot Travis Abbott said. “I’ve been interested in aviation since I saw the Blue Angels perform as a kid. Hearing the loud jets is amazing.”

Abbott, 25, has been a pilot since he was 16 years old.

“I want to do that,” he said pointing to the runway where one of the performers was landing. “I’ve got the most respect for Navy pilots landing on carriers. It’s got to be the ultimate challenge.”

Waiting in line to see the inside of a Nevada Air Guard C-130, Dylan Jet, 8, said he was thinking about becoming a pilot like his father Brad Blackwelder.

“It’s really cool, all the jets and stuff,” Dylan added. “My dad flew an F-18.”

“I flew the F-16 a lot, too, but the F-18 is a much better war fighter,” Blackwelder said. “I still fly for a living, but this type of flying is different. It’s great the Thunderbirds came to such a small location. It’s what they should be doing.”

The crowd covered their ears as the F-18 Hornet made its arrival —everyone except for Gardnerville resident Carl Spahr.

“I like the noise,” he said. “It gives you a thrill. It’s really powerful. Who would not like that noise?”

Spahr spent four years in the Air Force.

“I love this show, and I love coming out the airport,” he said.”It’s the first time the Thunderbirds have been here, so it’s awesome for the county.”

Despite complaints of slow shuttle service from the parking areas to the show, Airport Manager Bobbi Thompson was pleased with the results of a year’s worth of planning.

“I’m hoping the community is enjoying themselves,” she said. “Thanks to our outstanding staff and volunteers it’s going well. I’m very excited. I want to say thanks to the county commissioners for allowing us to do this.”

Team Rocket’s hijinks in the air with Dayton hang glider Dan Buchanan was Sherry Nelson’s favorite act of the day.

Team Rocket came within feet of the hang glider when they buzzed Buchanan’s tail feathers as he made his decent to the runway.

“That was cool,” the Carson City resident said. “I love airplanes. This is wonderful. I love the atmosphere.”

Nelson has attended the air races in Reno twice, but said she enjoyed the Aviation Roundup better.

“It’s smaller and there’s more of a show,” she added.”The races aren’t as fun.”

Thunderbirds Public Affairs Officer Sara Harper said the beautiful scenery of Carson Valley was touched on during the pilot’s briefings.

“It’s a great town for us to come to,” she said.”We’ve been looking forward to this show since it came on our schedule.”

This weekend’s Minden show marked the halfway point in the Thunderbird’s show schedule.

“It’s such an honor to be part of the team and represent the 700,000 people who serve in the military,” Harper said. “If you can spark an interest in young people, then it is really rewarding.”

Carson City brothers Clayton, 13, and Brock Bensmiller, 10, had their interests sparked.

“I think the F-18 was cool,” Clayton said.”I liked it because it was really loud and really fast.”

“I liked the acrobatic stuff,” Brock said. “I liked when they were crossing and doing crazy stuff. It was cool, and I had a good time.”

Throughout the weekend, the 2015 Leadership Douglas County class executed their class project of feeding and providing resources to veterans and active duty military in attendance.

“A lot of veterans don’t know where to go for help,” member Stacy Morgen said.”We are thrilled to be part of what we see as a solution by recognizing and educating veterans about the resources available to them.”

The Thunderbirds also recognized military men and women by drawing a heart in the sky as one of their maneuvers.

The team of six also executed precision 8-point hesitation rolls, a clover loop, a mirror image calypso pass and their most difficult maneuver, a trail to diamond roll.

“It was awesome,” Gardnerville resident Cathy Marshall said of the performance. “It took my breath away. All of the acts were very talented.”

“It sends a thrill up your spine,” Cathy’s husband, Rex, added.