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AirShow activity kicks off Friday (May 27)

Special to Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii AirShow Invitational is slated Saturday and Sunday at Kona International Airport, but residents may see activity in the air around the airport Friday.

Several of the stunt planes will be practicing their acts during the day Friday in preparation for the show. However, there will be no access to the tarmac Friday for up-close public viewing.

Saturday and Sunday, AirShow parking at the south end of the airport will open up at 8 a.m., with gates to the show open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The public is invited onto the tarmac to see planes on the ground and in the air up close and personal. Some of the in-air acts will include skydivers (including Melissa Pemberton, who will float in wearing her bat-wing suit to bring the American flag to start the show) and a plane that will land on the back of a pickup truck.

There will be acrobatic planes including one piloted by former Hawaii County Fire Department Rescue Helicopter Pilot Bruce Mayes.

Capt. Jeffrey Schneider from the Pacific Air Forces Aerial Demonstration Team will put his F-16 fighter through its paces.

There will also be planes on the ground. The B-1 bomber arrived Wednesday. There will also be a C-17, the very large cargo plane that can transport three Bradley Fighting Units, available for visits. The C-17 is one of 8 stationed on Oahu that uses Keahole Airport for landing and takeoff practice.

The first C-17 came to Kona when Bill Clinton was president, but it’s a rare opportunity to be able to see the inside of one.

Also, Hawaiian Airlines’ first airplane, the 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, will make its Big Island debut this weekend.

Beautifully restored, the Bellanca rejoined Hawaiian’s fleet in October 2009 and has been in use for the past year taking Hawaiian’s employees on sightseeing tours over Oahu.

This is the actual airplane that started it all for Hawaiian. Company founder Stanley Kennedy acquired the Bellanca in September 1929 and began offering sightseeing tours over Oahu to help prepare residents for the revolutionary concept of air travel between the Hawaiian Islands.

However, the Bellanca was never used for interisland flights.

The Bellanca was sold in 1933 and shipped to the U.S. mainland before being re-acquired by Hawaiian 75 years later and fully restored to its current condition.

The single-engine Bellanca can carry a pilot and five passengers; is 8-feet, 4-inches tall; 27-feet, 9-inches long; has a wingspan of 46-feet,4-inches; weighs 2,275 pounds empty; has a range of 675 miles; and a maximum speed of 165 MPH.

There will be a midway, with food sales by local restaurants The Fishhopper, Humpy’s, Banjy’s Paradise Bar & Grill, Big Jake’s Barbecue, Pua Palace and more. There will also be games and entertainment.

General admission tickets are $20 at the gate and $15 online, and for keiki 11 to 18 they’re $10 online and $15 at the gate. There are also options for Flight Deck, which includes a tent with food, and Box Seats, with reserved seating and catered food.

Online ticket sales go only until 5 p.m. Friday.

Airports Manager Chauncey Wong Yuen says scheduled commercial and private flights will depart on schedule, although extra time should be allowed for traffic delays.

The Hawaii AirShow Invitational has two Air Bosses who will work with the air traffic controllers to coordinate the AirShow activities around scheduled flights.

AirShow patrons will use special south airport parking lots right next to the AirShow venue, with the regular airport parking lots reserved for airport patrons.

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