Speed Read: Top Guns

It’s been 10 years since we’ve had an air show in Indy. But high-flying fun returns this month with the Crossroads Air Show.

IT’S HEAVEN FOR AVIATION FANS YOUNG AND OLD. The event on October 28 and 29 at Greenfield’s Indianapolis Regional Airport features everything from flight demonstrations by the United States Navy Blue Angels aerobatic squadron and the United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team to displays of vintage military aircraft.

LANDING THE BLUE ANGELS WAS A PRETTY BIG COUP. It took approximately three years to make the arrangements necessary to get the internationally beloved team to the Indianapolis area. One of the biggest issues was clearing the airspace around the airport for the team’s acrobatic performances. “When you’re in a fighter jet going hundreds of miles per hour, you can get into other people’s airspace really fast,” notes R. Michael Preyss, Crossroads’ community engagement chair.

Photos Courtesy of Crossroads Air Show

THIS WHOLE THING MAY SOUND FAMILIAR. An event called the Indianapolis Air Show flew out of this same airport annually from 1996 to 2013, when it was canceled due to federal budget woes. This reboot is sponsored by the Crossroads of America Council.

TICKET PRICES VARY. WILDLY. Single-day general admission tickets start at $10, but if you want, say, a table for eight in the Flight Line Club (the air show equivalent of box seats), you’ll need to shell out $1,600. However, Preyss says that no matter your ticket price, everybody gets a good look at the aerobatic programs. All you have to do is look up.

CROWDS ARE TO BE EXPECTED. While this is a rain or shine event, the weather forecast will obviously have an impact on the turnout. Organizers are expecting between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors. Since local aviation buffs might be feeling nostalgic about the return of the event, steel yourself for the maximum turnout even if it’s a drizzly day.

Photos Courtesy of Crossroads Air Show

BUT SHOWING UP EARLY WILL HELP. Although the gates open at 9 a.m., many attendees will likely start trickling in a little closer to noon, when the flight performances start. That means plenty of downtime for you to have a look at the planes on the ground. Sometimes you can get close enough to touch them, depending on the specific aircraft (and the mood of the ground crew watching over it). For instance, the authentic P-51C Red Tail Mustang fighter that’s tricked out in the livery of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first Black military pilots, likely won’t fly, so you might be able to sidle up to it. But forget getting close to planes that will be performing. “For obvious reasons, they don’t want kids climbing on them,” Preyss says.

THE PARKING FEE WILL GIVE YOU STICKER SHOCK. You can stop searching the site for the general admission parking price. Each and every driver must pay $150—online, before arriving—for an assigned spot. We all know everything costs more these days … but sheesh. Preyss points to the logistics of getting a crowd of this size safely and efficiently in and out, part of which involved necessary improvements to the parking lots. He adds that the overall price point of the event takes many factors into account. So who in your group has the biggest vehicle? Pile in and split it.

A COMEDY ACT IS PART OF THE SHOW. Aerobatic funnyman Kent Pietsch has a shtick which includes landing his flimsy-looking, 800-pound prop plane on the roof of a moving RV. This is his 50th year of doing stuff like this and somehow still being alive.

YOU’LL MEET A SPANISH LADY. The yellow Spanish Lady T-6G Texan was a trainer aircraft during World War II and was so massively overbuilt that 600 of them are still skyworthy, making them as common at air shows as sunburns.

Photos Courtesy of Crossroads Air Show

SHORT-TERM TINNITUS IS POSSIBLE. An air show dishes out roughly the same amount of sonic abuse, say, as sitting in the front row at an Aerosmith concert. “You don’t need to walk around all day wearing earplugs, but while the show’s going on and you’re close to the flight line, you’re going to want ear protection, especially for kids,” Preyss says.

IT’S FOR A GOOD CAUSE. The show is a fundraiser for kids’ nonprofits, including the Riley Children’s Foundation, if that makes you feel any better about the parking fee.