|This story has been corrected.|
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … superfun!
That’s what Marine Corps Base Hawaii is expecting thousands of visitors to experience at this weekend’s combined Kaneohe Bay Airshow-BayFest, when the Blue Angels and other high-flying acts take to the air over the Kaneohe base.
Visitors will see "things that have never been seen on the islands before, things that haven’t been seen in 15 years here and things you can’t get on the mainland," said Peter O’Hare, a Marine reservist and director of the air show. "We’ve got all the top performers."
The fun won’t be strictly airborne. On the ground there will be family-friendly activities like miniature golf, bounce houses and rides. Older "kids" might enjoy Sunday’s car show and the ground exhibits of military aircraft. Foodies will also be flying high with fare from the Taste of Oahu, which is joining the festivities for the first time.
KANEOHE BAY AIRSHOW, FEATURING BAYFEST
The Blue Angels, civilian aerobatics performers, concert, Taste of Oahu, car show and other entertainment
Where: Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe
When: 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Air shows begin between 11 a.m. and noon both days; concert begins Saturday after the air show. Car show is all day Sunday.
Cost: Free for general admission. Grandstand seating $7-$10 if purchased today, $10-$13 tomorrow. Chalet seating, $25-$75 if purchased today, $30-$85 if purchased tomorrow.
Note: Visitors are subject to inspection when entering a military facility. Prohibited items include large coolers and large backpacks, glass containers, bicycles, roller skates, skateboards and weapons of any kind. For a full list of prohibited and permitted items, and more details about the event, visit www.kaneohebayairshow.com/information.shtml.
The Kaneohe Bay Airshow and BayFest are usually separate events, but several forces led to this year’s combination show. Cost was a consideration, and a mainland act that organizers were hoping to bring in dropped out, said MCBH spokeswoman Sharon Cacurak. (Last year’s BayFest, which featured the Black Eyed Peas, caused a huge traffic jam at the base, which organizers hope to avoid this year, she said.) As it is, however, organizers are expecting a crowd of well more than 100,000 for the two-day event.
This year’s musical card, which takes to the stage at 4:30 tomorrow, will feature mostly local artists, headlined by the multitalented Willie K. In contrast to previous BayFest events, tomorrow’s concert will be free, Cacurak said.
Kicking off the evening will be the Kings of Spade and singer/songwriter Marine Mike Corrado, who has gained national attention for his songs about military life.
Reggae band Natural Vibrations tops off the evening’s entertainment.
Saturday night will conclude with a fireworks display, but folks who don’t want to stay that late will get equal thrills from the Wall of Fire, a demonstration by the Marine Air and Ground Task Force. The exercise involves laying down a 2,000-foot-long wall of fire as would be done during a mission to recover a trapped service member.
"It’s exactly what the Marines did (in 1997) to rescue Scott O’Grady in Bosnia," O’Hare said.
THE CIVILIAN air show features seven aerobatics pilots, including five-time world champion Kirby Chambliss and Chuck Aaron, the only pilot licensed to do aerobatics in a helicopter.
O’Hare has ridden with Aaron during some of his maneuvers and called it "an unnatural act in the air."
"I’ve done it once, and I’m not fond of doing it again. I can die now, I’ve done it. It’s definitely one of those things on the ‘bucket list.’"
Both experienced and wannabe pilots interested in aerobatics will find inspiration in Jacquie Warda, who is new to the Kaneohe Bay Airshow this year. Warda was a longtime pilot but did not start formal aerobatics training until her late 40s.
"I was bored between takeoff and landing. There was nothing to do with the airplane," said Warda, who flies under the name "Jacquie B." "Someone took me for an aerobatics ride one day, and I was hooked immediately."
At age 50 she started entering air races, and since then has launched a full-time career flying in air shows and races, grounding a career in the legal profession.
For her appearances here, Warda said she is learning everything she can about the airspace above MCBH, studying weather data and consulting Google images to find landmarks. She admitted that having a bird’s-eye view over Kaneohe Bay will be "a distraction — it’s gorgeous," but said her training will keep her out of trouble.
"The lowest I’ll go is about 30 feet," she said. "Some of the guys will go lower, but they’re flying more powerful planes and they can pull out of trouble."
"I might be doing fewer rotations, three or four, while they’ll do six or seven, but I’m flying full throttle all the time."
The Blue Angels, of course, will also be back to blast through the skies. The Navy’s elite demonstration squadron has made regular visits to the islands since 2004, thrilling audiences with their wingtip-to-wingtip formations and diabolical solo aerobatics runs, made at speeds of almost 700 mph.
"Everything they do is so spectacular, flying so close together with their wings just 12 inches apart," Cacurak said.
There will be a preferred seating area for the air show, available for an extra charge, which Cacurak said will be the best place to get a sense of the power of the squad’s Boeing Hornet F/A-18s, which it has flown since 1986.
"You’re right there in flight line, and you can see them in the cockpit as they drive past," she said. "Just the sound and the rumbling, you get an idea of how intense it is. It’s such an adrenaline rush. You can just imagine what it would be like to be in the plane."
The phone number for tickets to the Kaneohe Bay Airshow that appeared on page 4 of yesterday’s TGIF section was incorrect. The correct number is 888-695-7226.