WILLIAMSTOWN - The 2010 Air Expo Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport saw its largest crowd ever, organizers said
Encouraged by pleasant weather, estimates were more than 25,000 people watched the show, organizer Greg Smith said.
''We had more there than we have ever had before,'' he said. ''Once church let out, the people came out in droves.''
2010 Air Expo at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport
This year's theme was "A Tribute To Those Who Serve" and a moment of silence was held to remember David Alan Hess, the Parkersburg South High School graduate killed last week in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne.
The crowd sang the "Star Spangled Banner" when the anthem was played, Smith said.
''That is what all of this was about,'' he said. ''The patriotic pride in this community is phenomenal. I can't say enough about about it.''
Crowds gathered to watch military aircraft, including the F-18 Hornet, taxi onto the runway to take off during the 2010 Air Expo Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. (Photo by Bret Dunlap)
Dennis Arden came from Zanesville to see the demonstration of the U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog.
''That is an amazing airplane,'' he said, noting its service in Iraq. ''It was just awesome.''
He also enjoyed Curt Arnspiger's Saeta jet. It reminded him of one of the first jets he saw 50 years ago.
''It was awesome to see something that I saw 50 years ago,'' Arden said.
This was his first Air Expo.
''I didn't know there was this many people in West Virginia,'' he laughingly said. ''I am thinking no one stayed home. They are all here. They certainly had beautiful weather for it.''
Michael Santee of Jackson County brought his family with him.
''I came out to see the jets,'' he said. ''I have nieces and nephews and I thought this would be a good thing for them to see. It has been great. They have had a lot of fun.''
They especially enjoyed watching the flight demonstration of the U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet.
Blake Gentry, 12, of Ravenswood said he had a good time.
''The F-18 was my favorite,'' he said. ''I liked its speed and its loudness.''
Jason Pente, 9, of Meigs County agreed.
''I liked the speed of the jet and the sound of it,'' he said. ''When it looked like it was landing and then took off again, that kind of frightened me.''
Kids were treated to a candy drop from a helicopter. Families made a day of the show, Smith said.
''I saw many young kids with smiles on their faces all day long,'' he said.
Others came to lift their spirits.
Jerry and Teresa Burkhart of Belpre were upset Wisconsin beat No. 1 Ohio State University Saturday.
''We were depressed last night after the ballgame so that is why we came out here today, to cheer ourselves up,'' Jerry said.''We have flown in and out of here many times. It is a little different to be able to walk around on the field a little bit.''
This was their first time at the Air Expo, Teresa said.
''It is a gorgeous day,'' she said. ''We have never been out and we have always wanted to see this.''
They enjoyed the F-18 and the model remote control airplanes.
''It is nice to have something like this that is free for the community,'' Teresa said. ''It was nice they put this on. There aren't too many things anymore that are free.''
Teresa's sister, Rosie Plauche of Parkersburg, was thankful for the warm weather and the chance to get out with family.
''It was a beautiful day,'' she said. ''It was too pretty to be inside.''
Tim Hare of Vienna has lived here more than 30 years. It's his first show, too.
''I finally had the chance to do it, because a friend of mine talked me into it,'' he said. ''I am extremely impressed. It is amazing the amount of people, the amount of aircraft and it is great for the Mid-Ohio Valley to have something like this.''
Smith credits the bus drivers from Wood County Schools with moving a large amount of people in to the airport from parking lots at the Williamstown Welcome Center and WVU-Parkersburg. Although there was a small traffic incident which caused the buses to be delayed, they were still able to get everyone out of the airport quickly at the end of the day.
The last event was at 5 p.m. and everyone was out by 5:40 p.m., he said.
Smith said the 428 volunteers made the show a success.
''Everyone of them was fantastic,'' Smith said. ''They all did a tremendous job.''