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blank 10/06/09 11:01AM Aerial Acrobatics, Aerial Performers, Air Show, Events

Culpeper AirFest is Saturday

Culpeper County’s annual AirFest is on the horizon again, returning Oct. 10 to the friendly skies above Brandy Station.

Headlining Culpeper Regional Airport’s 10th annual aviation exhibition will be a civilian-owned Harrier jet. Also called jump jets, Harrier aircraft are best known for their ability to perform vertical takeoffs and landings. They were introduced about 40 years ago, and variants of the plane are still used today.

Culpeper’s event will be the sixth and final show this year for the plane, which is owned by former Marine Corps pilot Art Nalls. He purchased the BAE Sea Harrier FA2 in 2005 and spent several years restoring it. The Harrier debuted at last year’s AirFest.

According to his Web site, nallsaviation.com, the Harrier costs about $4,000 to fuel up, or an average of $100 per minute of flight time.

Last year, an estimated record crowd of more than 5,000 forced organizers to turn away visitors after all available parking was filled to capacity. This year, airport manager Tonya Woodward said that won’t happen.

“We have taken care of that and have additional parking this year,” Woodward said. “Hopefully we will not have to turn people away.”

In addition to parking in the vicinity of the airport, visitors will also be allowed to park at the Brandy Station carnival grounds and take a shuttle to the event.

An Apache military helicopter is also expected, along with the Bealeton Flying Circus, privately owned vintage military and civilian aircraft, and some modern planes too — everything from corporate jets to crop dusters.

A small display of classic cars will be featured, and Culpeper County’s Parks and Recreation Department will have kids activities available. Kids and adults can also get their photograph taken in an F4 airplane cockpit.

Woodward said this year’s theme is “general aviation serves America.”

General aviation, she said, plays a role in everyone’s life by providing support for firefighting, services to corporate, personal and leisure travel clients and military operations and public safety through organizations like the Civil Air Patrol.

The nonprofit Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is sponsoring the theme nationwide.

An anniversary keepsake air show program will be available for $3, with proceeds benefiting a local Boy Scout troop and the airport.

Purchasing a program also includes entry in a raffle.

The grand prize is a flight in a war bird — a vintage military aircraft. Other prizes include six tickets for an introductory flight from White Hawk Aviation and two tickets to the Taste of Culpeper downtown food and wine festival Oct. 11.

However, Woodward stressed, the AirFest is still free, and no one is required to buy anything to attend.

Compared to other family activities, “You get more bang for your buck,” she said. “You can do so many more things — all you have to do is bring five bucks to eat.

This year is also the airport’s 40th year of operation. Culpeper Regional Airport replaced a smaller former airfield located on what’s now the Culpeper Country Club golf course and housing area on the south end of town.

The airport is located at 12517 Beverly Ford Road in Brandy Station, west of U.S. 29. For more information, visit culpeperairport.com.

Want to go?
Culpeper Regional Airport’s 10th annual AirFest is Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free, but a souvenir program is available for $3 and includes entry in a raffle for a free flight in a vintage military airplane, among other prizes. In case of rain, AirFest will take place Oct. 11. Visit culpeperairport.com for show schedules and more information.

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