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Published August 13 2011

Record attendance expected at Fargo AirSho

FARGO – Fargo AirSho officials are “really optimistic” that this weekend’s show will draw record attendance, said Darrol Schroeder, co-chairman of the 70-volunteer AirSho Committee.

And while the Navy Blue Angels are the stars of the show, they’re by no means the lone attraction.

Schroeder cited a strong lineup of acts and the show’s status of one of 21 shows across the country chosen to celebrate the centennial of naval aviation as reasons officials are hoping for up to 20,000 people per day.

“We have a lot of super performers,” he said Friday during a press conference at the Fargo Air Museum.

New to this year’s show are The Horsemen, the world’s only P-51 Mustang aerobatic team. In honor of the naval centennial, the California-based team will perform in two Navy F8F Bearcat fighters.

Local favorite Jim “Fang” Maroney, a Casselton native, will again perform aerial feats in his “Super Chipmunk,” known for its end-over-end tumble.

Bob Odegaard of Kindred will fly three aircraft during the show, including his P-51 Mustang alongside a fighter jet during the Heritage Flight.

The F-16, which used to be a regular sight in Fargo’s skies when it was flown by the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing here, will again be visible when the Air Force’s Viper West team performs. Pilot Capt. Garrett “Mace” Dover said his least favorite maneuver is the 9-G turn, which makes his body feel like it weighs 1,800 pounds.

“It’s like a big brother sitting on you – a really big brother,” he said Friday.

Lt. Col. Mike Depree of the 119th Wing said that with military cutbacks, it’s become harder to find aircraft for the show.

“But I think our numbers will be pretty good,” he said, citing a number of Air Force and Navy aircraft that will be on display.

The Disabled American Veterans will feature its B-25 bomber “Miss Mitchell,” as well as a special poster that active and retired veterans will be asked to sign to honor their service.

The Air National Guard brings its “Rise to the Challenge” tour, a large trailer hosting an interactive role-playing experience designed to demonstrate the real-life roles of Air Guard men and women. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Spectators also will be treated to a world-record attempt, as strongman Mark Kirsch tries to pull two huge Case-IH four-wheel-drive tractors.

AirSho profits are donated to local nonprofits, including the Air Museum, which has received about $250,000 over 10 years, and the Roger Maris Cancer Center, Schroeder said.

The museum also is raffling off a donated Cessna Skylane airplane. Tickets are $50 apiece.

Schroeder said about 10,000 pairs of earplugs will be available each on Saturday and Sunday. Games Galore also will have inflatable games for children.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528