Aviation Gala Draws Big Weekend Crowds - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Aviation Gala Draws Big Weekend Crowds

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Erie, PA- The Aviation Gala and Open House Weekend brought out the crowds this weekend at the Erie International Airport, all to celebrate the completion of the runway extension project.

One of the most popular attractions was the B-17. That was one of about a dozen war planes at the event. There was also about 20 privately owned planes on display.

There was also a kid's play area, a hot air balloon ride, vintage and classic cars, even dogs performing tricks. Of course, there was also a whole lot of food.

Event organizers worked on planning this event for about a year, recruiting planes for display  - and sponsors – in order to keep both the event and parking free for visitors.

"It's very rare, it's almost unheard of for an airport to have this level of static display of aircraft at no cost to the public," said Chris Rodgers, Executive Director of the event.

"We wanted the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie to look back at 2013 and see how well we've done," Rodgers said.

Event organizers have made accommodations and parking for up to 10,000 visitors per day.

The Aviation Gala is the airport's contribution to the Perry200 celebration this summer.

While the event itself is free, taking a spin in the B-17 plane that came all the way from the Yankee War Museum… not so much. These old planes need a lot of fuel, so there is a hefty price tag - $450 dollars for a ride.

"I got it as a birthday present. They surprised me, and it was like, 'Wow!' said Mark Drewes, who came to Erie all the way from Lancaster, New York. "It gives you an appreciation for what the guys went through way back when," he said. "It's not as smooth as our current aircrafts are, let me tell you, but very enjoyable."

The Gala takes place on a closed portion of the runways, leaving all commercial flights to run as scheduled.



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