Culpeper AirFest plans developing

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Aug. 12--Culpeper's 11th annual AirFest is on the horizon again, and the county's airport advisory committee discussed details of the free annual event at the group's meeting Wednesday morning.

Airport manager Tanya Woodward confirmed that the popular Harrier jump jet will return this year. The show is set to run Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Culpeper Regional Airport.

Owned by former Marine Corps pilot Art Nalls, the Harrier is best known for having the ability to perform vertical takeoffs and landings.

Introduced about 40 years ago, the British-engineered aircraft was used by several military forces around the world at its peak. An updated version of the aircraft remains in service with the U.S. Marine Corps today.

Nalls purchased the BAE Sea Harrier FA2 in 2005 and restored it during the next three years. It debuted at the Culpeper AirFest in 2008. That year, an estimated record crowd of more than 5,000 attended the show, forcing organizers to turn away visitors after parking filled up.

Woodward said they've resolved that issue.

Nalls will also showcase his L-39 jet trainer. Other featured aircraft will include a T-28, a T-6 and an Extra 300.

Rides in a B-25 will be available for a fee, and the Bealeton Flying Circus will also perform. Historic vintage military aircraft, dubbed war birds by enthusiasts, will also fly in formation for the crowd.

Woodward said one noteworthy change this year is that youth orientation flights through the Young Eagles program will take place the day after the show, but those interested can still sign up at AirFest.

"It's just so tight trying to fit all that in, we're always cramped for time when it gets dark," Woodward said.

On the ground, all branches of the military will be represented with displays and interactive activities, and organizers are working to get a local school band to perform. Woodward said Wednesday afternoon that details are still being worked out, and the final lineup of aircraft and activities will be announced next month.

For more information, visit culpeperairport.com.

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