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After 4-Year Hiatus, Kansas City Air Show Draws Thousands To Downtown Airport

Cody Newill
A family peers inside a jet at the Kansas City Aviation Expo and Air Show at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport.

The Kansas City Aviation Expo and Air Show drew thousands of people to the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport over the weekend.

People streamed across the closed Broadway Bridge to attend the show, which hasn't run since 2011. Air Show director Ed Noyallis says the main point is to get kids excited about aviation.

"They're all thrilled, you know, it's just fun," Noyallis said. "Airplanes are always a fascination for everybody."

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
Thousands went across closed Broadway Bridge to get an up close look at airplanes on display, and to see the Navy's Blue Angels.

Matt Estelle and his family came to the expo to go inside display airplane cockpits and see the Navy's Blue Angels, who haven't been in Kansas City for nearly a decade.

"Seeing the P-51s is a blast, and of course I always look forward to seeing the Blue Angels," Estelle said. "I've got three boys and my daughter likes the airplanes as well."

One of the groups trying to push youth aviation is the Civil Air Patrol, which was on the grounds helping with airplane prep. Ismael Arrocha is a cadet with the Air Patrol, and he's just months away from flying a plane on his own.

"I've been following [stunt pilot Sean Tucker] since I was about four years old," Arrocha said. "One of the things he said was to dream big, and I think I've really been dreaming big to get to where I am today."

Noyallis says he expected the Air Show to draw at least 25,000-50,000 attendees Saturday and Sunday.

Though air shows are usually safe and family friendly, that isn't always the case. The last time the Kansas City Aviation Expo was held, stunt pilot Bryan Jensen died after a nose dive into the runway. And a pilot at a British air show crashed onto a highway Saturday, killing at least seven people.

To keep spectators safe, a chain link fence keeps crowds a half-mile away from the runway. And Noyallis says pilots are trained not to fly over crowds to avoid any possible accident.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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