Rockford AirFest 2011 to feature record number of static aircraft

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Rockford AirFest 2011 won’t just feature amazing aircraft in the sky. This year’s show will include more than 50 military, civilian and warbird aircraft on the ground. Attendees will get the rare opportunity to see these large and small aircraft up close, and in some cases tour inside.

Rockford AirFest 2011 is June 4 and 5 at Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD). The theme is “Honoring Heroes” because the show is part of the yearlong celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation. Rockford AirFest 2011 is scheduled to feature 15 military and civilian performers, headlined by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and including a special performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.

Rockford AirFest 2011 is one of only 32 events in the country that have been given Tier One status by the U.S. Navy this year, giving AirFest a boost in attracting performers and static aircraft.

“We’re proud to showcase some of the best aircraft in the U.S. military fleet. It’s not often that members of the public have a chance to see so many of them in one place,” said Darrin Golden, Greater Rockford Airport Authority commissioner and a former Naval Aircrewman. “Rockford AirFest 2011 will truly be a unique family-friendly event.”

For example, Rockford AirFest 2011 will have a “fighter alley” displaying almost every modern fighter aircraft in the U.S. military: the F-15 Strike Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the F-5 Tiger and the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog.” Helicopter fans will get to see the MH-53 Sea Dragon – one of the largest helicopters in the world – along with the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook, the legendary UH-1 Huey and two Black Hawks.

Rockford AirFest will also feature one of the most unique and rare aircraft in the U.S. military fleet, the U.S. Navy E-6 Mercury, codenamed “Looking Glass”. The E-6 has the ability to control the U.S.’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, and an E-6 would serve as the backup if ground-based command lost communication.

Besides the impressive array of current military aircraft, Rockford AirFest will feature a mix of historic military aircraft, such as the C-47 Transport that carried many U.S. soldiers during World War II, the huge piston-engine T-28 Trojan and the Soviet Bloc fighter trainer L-39 Albatross.

There will also be several commercial aircraft, like a UPS Airbus A300F that frequently flies in and out of RFD, a factory-fresh American Airlines Boeing 737-800 and Delta Air Lines’ international Boeing 767-400 painted pink and white for breast cancer awareness.

More than a dozen of the aircraft at Rockford AirFest will be open for tours. Showgrounds are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and attendees are encouraged to come early to see as many aircraft as they can.

“Unlike at some other air shows in the region, you can walk right up to and inside many of our aircraft during the show,” said Dave Lindberg, Rockford AirFest’s static-display coordinator. “Most people don’t get a chance to be this close to any of these aircraft, let alone more than 50 of them at once.”

Advance tickets are available at the discounted rate of $10 for adults and $5 for children online and at select outlets. For more information, visit