Cleared for takeoff: Truckee Tahoe Air Show returns Saturday for eighth year |

Cleared for takeoff: Truckee Tahoe Air Show returns Saturday for eighth year

Kyle Franklin flies his custom Demon-1 biplane, called Dracula.
Courtesy of Scott Slocum

High-flying aerobatics will take center stage this weekend at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.

World-class pilots, historic aircraft, and family-friendly activities will highlight the daylong celebration of aviation at the airport as the Truckee Tahoe Air Show returns for its eighth year in the area.

The air show, which offers free entry and parking, will begin Saturday at 9 a.m. and will run until 4 p.m. This year’s show features a number of new pilots performing high above crowds at the airport, a family festival, and several static displays of military and experimental aircraft.

“Every year I am just overwhelmed by the community support and everyone pulling together and making it an awesome event.,” said Director of Communications Margaret Skillicorn. “It’s just a wonderful family-friendly event.”

The Truckee Tahoe Airport District funds all operational costs of the air show and family festival. Volunteers from the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1073, Truckee Optimist Club, and KidZone Museum produce the event while raising funds through sponsorships, vendor booth sales, VIP hospitality tent ticket sales, and sales of other items.

“The Truckee Tahoe Airport District supports it 100%,” said Skillicorn. “And that allows the three nonprofits to raise money for local youth organizations.”

Since the air show began in 2012, more than $250,000 has been raised, according to air show officials, who set a goal of raising at least $60,000 this year. In December of last year, the show’s Emergency Response Team was awarded the Gold-Level International Council of Air Shows Pinnacle Award for Excellence in Emergency Response for a small civilian show.

“This team perfected emergency response because we made it the main priority when preparing for the show,” Truckee Tahoe Air Show Executive Director Tim LoDolce said in a post on the air show’s website. “The preparation is yearlong, and the goal has always been making the emergency response seamless.”

In the sky

This year’s air show features a number of aerial performances by pilots from around the world.

New this year, pilot Kyle Franklin will join the show with his custom Demon-1 biplane. The plane, dubbed Dracula, exemplifies the classic horror tale with it’s airbrushed blood paint job, and should get crowds on the ground moving as Franklin performs a routine set to rock music.

“That’s one of the new acts and different than anything we’ve had in the past,” said Skillicorn.

Also flying in this year’s air show will be a pilot with more than 30 years of racing experience, Bob Freeman, who will fly his converted Red Bull Racer plane.

Pilot Tom Larkin will bring his modified SubSonex Jet to the skies above Truckee. The experimental jet comes as a kit, weighs roughly 500 pounds, and can reach a speed of 300 mph.

Last year, Ukrainian pilot Anna Serbinenko, known as the Sky Dancer, stole the show with her routine set to classical music. She will return to fly again this year.

Mark Peterson, who will pilot a Dornier Alpha Jet, will also fly again at the show.

The event will also feature one of six operational Lockheed P-38 Lightnings in the world as part of the Erickson Aircraft Collection from Madras, Oregon.

Paid rides in aircraft are also available during the weekend, and include a chance to fly in a P-51D Man O’ War and a North American B-25 J. Mitchell Bomber.

On the ground

As part of this year’s air show, a number of military aircraft will be on display at the airport, including an F-5, a Marine MV-22 Osprey, a T45A Goshawk, a Navy Skyhawk, and more. There will also be several experimental aircraft on the ground as part of the static display.

This year’s family festival, produced by volunteers from the KidZone Museum, will feature live music, puppet shows, stilt walkers, carnival games, face painting, science and art creation stations, and a bounce house.

SafeLaunch, an organization dedicated to preventing teen exposure to drugs and alcohol, will host Flights Above Addiction, where teams of student artists will paint an airplane after an interactive lesson about the science of addiction.

Youngsters are also invited to take part in the STEM Expo, which features various exhibitor displays about science, technology, engineering, and math.

An interactive and virtual exhibit simulating what it takes to make it in the U.S. Air Force will be available as well.

Children ages 8-17 can also sign up for a free flight on Saturday at the Experimental Aircraft Association building for a plane ride, which will take place the following day at the airport.

Legendary speaker

World War II triple-ace fighter pilot Clarence “Bud” Anderson is the honorary guest speaker at this year’s air show.

A retired colonel of the United States Air Force, Anderson will relive his combat days through stories and videos during the air show.

During World War II, he served two combat tours with the renowned 357th Fighter Group based in England from November 1943 through January 1945, escorting heavy bombers over Europe in the P-51 Mustang. He flew 116 combat missions totaling 480 hours and destroyed 16 and ¼ (shared with three other flight members) enemy aircraft in aerial combat, in addition to another one on the ground.

Anderson earned more than 25 awards during his military career. Following the war, he flew and led flight test programs in Ohio and California, and also led fighter squadrons during post-war Korea and in Vietnam. After retiring from the United States Air Force in 1972, Anderson worked for more than a decade in flight test operations for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. He was inducted into the EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame in 2017.

Anderson will take the stage at noon.

For more information, a schedule of events, or to purchase tickets for flights, visit Residents and visitors in the Truckee area can expect to see planes rehearsing in the skies above the area during Thursday and Friday afternoons.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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