Georgia State Air Show Looks for Bigger Crowds This Year

Normally the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport is a quiet place, with just the occasional student flyer or private plane landing or taking off.

That won't be the case Saturday, however. Thousands of people are expected to attend the second annual Georgia State Air Show at the airport, where they will see fighter jets and stunt planes soaring over the city.

The show is sponsored by the Georgia Aviation Technical College Foundation, which supports the flight school adjacent to the airport.

The first show was held in 2003, but it wasn't held last year due to expansion of the runway. The 2003 show drew 3,000 people, said Johnny Payne, public relations director for the school. He predicted 8,000 to 10,000 people will attend Saturday.

"It's much bigger," Payne said. "There are a lot of performers, and a lot more things are going on."

Top draws include the Air Force Vipers, a pair of F-16 fighters. Also, Air Show Unlimited, a stunt-plane team sponsored by the school, will perform.

People can get a preview today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as performers will be practicing.

Saturday's events begin at 8 a.m. with a fun-run on the airport taxiway. The airport opens at 10 a.m., and about 30 food and arts and crafts vendors are expected. There will also be educational displays, a model airplane fly-in, pay helicopter and airplane rides, pay monster truck rides and other events. The air show begins at 1 p.m.

"The overall goal is to promote aviation in Georgia," Payne said.

Most of the ticket income will go directly to the foundation because the cost of the show is covered by donations from local businesses, Payne said.

Those donations may pay off this weekend. Payne said Friday that every hotel room in Eastman was booked up.