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Skyfest is back this spring at Fairchild after COVID-19 foiled plans last year

UPDATED: Fri., April 1, 2022

Col. Cassius T. Bentley III speaks during a press conference on Friday Apr 1, 2022, announcing the return of Skyfest at Fairchild Air Force Base in Airway Heights.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Col. Cassius T. Bentley III speaks during a press conference on Friday Apr 1, 2022, announcing the return of Skyfest at Fairchild Air Force Base in Airway Heights. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

The biennial airshow that draws around 70,000 spectators to Fairchild Air Force Base will make its return this spring after the COVID-19 pandemic grounded the popular aerial performances last year.

Col. Cassius Bentley, commander of the 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild , said it feels amazing to be back. The event last took place in 2019.

“It’s great to open things back up,” Bentley said Friday at a Skyfest news conference.

Skyfest, which is free to attend, is set for May 14 and 15. Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. Aerial performances will be noon to 4:30 p.m.

There will be 15 featured aerial performances, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the headliner.

The Thunderbirds showcase their skills, including formation flying and solo routines, to people around the globe, according to the Air Force’s website. They also demonstrate the “incredible capabilities” of the Air Force’s “premier multi-role fighter jet,” the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Besides performances in the sky, Skyfest includes static displays, a children’s zone, vendors and other exhibits, according to a Skyfest media handout provided by Fairchild .

The Lightning Formation Airshows demonstration team performs during Skyfest 2019 on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Fairchild AFB in Airway Heights, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
The Lightning Formation Airshows demonstration team performs during Skyfest 2019 on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Fairchild AFB in Airway Heights, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Bentley said the airshow is a great opportunity to celebrate the 80th year of Fairchild and the 75th year of the U.S. Air Force.

First Lt. Michelle Chang, chief of media operations for the 92d Air Refueling Wing, said about 70,000 people usually turn out for the two-day event, but she hopes that number grows this year.

“We want it to be as big as we can get it, safely of course,” Chang said.

Bentley said some bases across the nation are able to accommodate larger crowds due to their location, “but we will have the best air show.”

Lt. Col. Harrison Gipple, airshow director, said there will be no COVID-19 vaccination or negative test requirement to attend the show. The show will take place outside and in a large, open-air hangar.

“We’re very excited to share the weekend with all of you,” Gipple said.

For more information, including a full list of aerial acts, visit www.fairchildskyfest.com.

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