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Wings Over Alpena set to be biggest show yet

August 16, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - Two years ago during the "Wings Over Alpena" air show, the event focused on aircraft that graced the sky during the World War II era. On Saturday the 2012 show will jump forward in time a few years and feature airplanes used during the Korean War.

Organizers of the event have been hard at work for about a year and a half to construct the biggest and most entertaining air show Alpena has hosted yet. According to Wing's Over Alpena Vice President Phil Agius, the event could attract more than 25,000 people.

"Everybody loves the air show, and I expect more than the 25,000 we have had for each of the others," Agius said. "I believe there is more awareness about the event out there than in the past, and people are really looking forward to it. We will have planes from the Korean War era, as well as aerobatic pilots. There will be a lot to do other than enjoy the flying acts."

The air show, which takes place every two years, begins at 11 a.m., but gates to the Alpena Combat Readiness Center open at 8 a.m. for those wishing to get the best view. Agius said work on the 2012 show began shortly after the 2010 event concluded, and everything is in place for Saturday.

"Usually after the show we take a short break and then reconvene to look at what went right, what went wrong, and what we can do to make the air show better," Agius said. "Then we start getting ideas and putting together different aspects we want in the next show. It takes about 18 months to put the show together and get the sponsors in place for it."

Included in this year's lineup is a 1927 Ford Tri-Motor, which was one of the first passenger planes built by the famous Michigan automobile company, a B-25 Mitchell "Panchito," and a T-33 "Shooting Star." Mike Vaknin and the Inverted Horizons is also scheduled to perform, and there will also be a presentation by The Indy Boys with a jet-powered schools bus.

Agius said the event would not be possible without the volunteers and the support of the many sponsors.

"The support from the sponsors is amazing, and the way all of Alpena pulls together to make this happen is incredible," he said. "We have four times the budget than what we had for the 2008 show. The cost is also greater, though, because we are getting more and more jet aircrafts, which use a lot more fuel. Some of past planes would use about 300 gallons, but now some of the jets can use as much as 1,200 gallons. It will continue to be that way, as we continue to move forward into the eras involving jets."

Agius said there is only a limited amount of bleacher seating available, so people should plan on bringing something to sit on and to arrive early. He said coolers are not allowed at the event, but drinks and snacks will be available, as will activities for children.

"Come out and enjoy everything. There will be a lot more going on besides the flying acts," Agius said. "There will be inflatables for the kids to play on and food and drink vendors, so bring a bag or folding chair to sit. Admission to the event is free."

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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