Four Reasons You Should Support Local Airshows
Opinion Editorial written by Chris Buckner — After Seaplane Magazine’s visit to Wings & Wheels in Heist, Germany during August of 2018, I’ve been planning to write some reflections about the event. As it happens, life has taken up way more time than expected, but I would still like to get a few thoughts and ideas out there. Rather than focus solely on the single airshow of Wings & Wheels, I’ll make my thoughts a little more general, using what I learned at that particular event as examples.
1. Local airshows are an amazing way to bring various groups of people together.
The Wings & Wheels 2018 event, as its name implies, was a combination of different types of transportation, including aviation, automobiles, and motorcycles. While some people may be big fans of all these types of machinery, most are not. There were a huge number of people at the airshow walking around, looking, enjoying, and learning about many different things that they may have never experienced before, with aviation being, more than likely, the most unknown.
People see things like motorcycles, and classic cars on a pretty regular basis, whether out on the street, or in movies and television, yet people are still very interested in them. The many different types of aircraft that can show up at an aviation themed airshow, especially with a fly-in aspect, is something that most people have never even considered delving in to. Offering the mechanical types of people that love cars and motorcycles the chance to see these amazing aircraft up-close and even having a chance to fly in some of the aircraft, could very easily create new aviators, mechanics, and enthusiasts.
2. Local airshows are one of the easiest possible ways to introduce children to aviation.
Imagine aircraft that many people go their entire life wishing they could see live and in person (Catalina PBY-5A). Imagine aircraft that go up and do flips, corkscrews, inverted flight, and much more. Imagine being able to walk around and see all these different kinds of aircraft that you may have heard about, read about, or watched online videos of up close and in person, and talk to the friendly pilots of the amazing aircraft.
All of those things are not only possible, but are the normal at many local airshows. There is no pressure from anyone. Pilots are open, friendly, and inviting and in more cases than not they will be the ones asking if you’d like to hear more or see more of their planes. The price of admission at events like Wings & Wheels is very reasonable and to be able to take the whole family and walk around for a full day (or weekend) is an incredible experience that many young ones will remember for the rest of their lives.
3. Airshows are a great way to bring positive attention to aviation.
Often times, the only news most of the “non-aviation” community sees about the world of aviation is when something negative happens. A crash, an incident, a stolen plane, whatever else you can imagine. A fun-filled weekend with people young and old. Families, friends, and strangers waiting to become friends all coming together for food, drinks, and sharing a mutual enjoyment of at least some small part of it can be what the aviation community can do to share some of the more amazing benefits of general aviation.
4. If we don’t continue to offer support, these events will stop happening.
I was very disappointed to read on November 27th, that Wings & Wheels will not be returning to Heist in 2019. Obviously, there are many, many factors that go into planning and running an event such as this. But, to me, in the end it all comes down to community support. If the support is there, both in the planning of the event, the actual running of the event, and the community turnout at the event, then the event will be successful enough to continue each and every year.
For most of us, our first thought is probably something along the lines of, ‘What can I do?’ or ‘I don’t know anything about planning an airshow,’ but the great thing is that you don’t have to. There is enough happening that everyone can find at least a small way to help. Create digital or print flyers, invite pilots to bring out their interesting planes, help organize non-aviation entertainment, volunteer to help with parking and admission, set up and run a website or Facebook Page, etc… the possibilities are virtually endless. And I can almost guarantee, if you want to help, the main organizers will find something that you already know how to do, so that you can easily contribute.
Clearly, an event like this takes a ton of planning, and immense cooperation to pull off. For that reason, it’s very difficult to manage more than one or possibly two in a single year for any given area. But, what I think we’re going for here is quality over quantity. If everyone pitches in together to help, we can not only make the events we currently have to promote aviation even better, but can also possibly increase the number of these events.
Chris Buckner is the co-founder of Seaplanemagazine.com and served as it’s official editor in chief during the launch phase of our online magazine. In his real life he is a teacher at the International School of Bremen. As an avid hunter you can find him as an editor on Wideopenspaces.com . He lives in Bremen with his wife Caroline and Finn the Super-dog. Chris holds a private pilot certificate with instrument rating and is planning to continue his pilot career upon return to the United States in 2019. You can reach him via