Northwest Aerospace News — Issue No. 28 August | September 2022 | Page 22

Fairchild Air Force Base ’ s Skyfest 2022 more than doubled their attendance from the last event in 2019 ( 60,000 ) to 130,000 guests . The free community event , according to attendee Tara Funderburg who has attended since 2004 , is a thrill because of the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels , the sound of the engines rumbling , and the aerobatics performed in the sky . As a fan of Fairchild ’ s Skyfest , she is also employed at the base as the Wing Commander ’ s secretary . She comes from a military background as her father was in the Air Force , and then she married into the Air Force as well . Funderburg said she also loves the static displays , especially the B-52s and KC-135 , as her father worked on both aircraft in his career .

The event takes a significant amount of planning , and they offer Skyfest only every other year . For the uninitiated , the event consists of :
— Featured performers ( Thunderbirds , parachuters , fly-bys , aeronautics , fixed wing , and rotor wing aircraft )
— Static displays of older aircraft , and both civilian and military equipment
— A professional air show narrator — Vendors ( food and merchandise )
— Open area for seating / standing and free parking for attendees
The 2022 Air Show Director was Lieutenant Colonel Harrison Gipple , a 15-year Air Force veteran . Gipple said he was chosen for the role in fall 2021 , and it took about 10 months to plan this year ’ s event . The event was cancelled in 2021 , and the prior event was in 2019 .
With the cancellation , and the replacement show in 2022 , the event will now return in 2024 .
Gipple is a KC-135 instructor pilot who flies missions and teaches young co-pilots . He is an air commander and the director of operations for the refueling squadron . In his role , he operates multiple squadrons .
He has not organized the event in the past , but said , “ I was fortunate that my name was brought up .” He indicated that the air show director changes with each air show .
National Air Force Base Air Show Origins
According to the Fairchild AFB Historian Rebekah Horton , air shows “ date back to the early 1900s during a time of rapid innovation in aeronautics . In 1903 after the failure of Samuel P . Langley ’ s Aerodrome machine , the War Department adopted a policy to only invest in proven aerial weaponry .” The Aero Club of America ( 1905 ) and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale combined to , “ promote and develop the science of aerial navigation .” ( Nalty , 1997 , p . 9 ).