Caitlin Smith, 7, checks out the Wild West Air Fest last year from the comfort of a foot-pedal-powered toy aircraft on the tarmac at Bob Adams Field in Steamboat Springs.

File Photo

Caitlin Smith, 7, checks out the Wild West Air Fest last year from the comfort of a foot-pedal-powered toy aircraft on the tarmac at Bob Adams Field in Steamboat Springs.

WWII fighter pilot to speak at Air Fest

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Volunteers sought

A free plane ride and a T-shirt are in the bargain for volunteers willing to spend Aug. 30 and 31 helping out at the Wild West Air Fest, held at Bob Adams Field.

Those interested can call Kristi White at 875-7006 or stop by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Visitors Center at 125 Anglers Drive.

— It took more than 60 years for former U.S. Army Air Force fighter pilot Burt Newmark to open up about the most harrowing experience of his life. However, he will be sharing his near-death experience with an audience here this month.

Newmark will be in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 30 and 31, during the fourth annual Wild West Air Fest, to talk about being shot down over Germany.

He is one of two well-known speakers who will take part in Steamboat's celebration on Labor Day weekend. Ralph Hood, a member of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and a noted humorist, will speak Saturday and Sunday that weekend.

Newmark was only 20 years old in February 1945 when he was shot down while strafing German trains near Frankfurt. His P-51 Mustang was hit by flak from anti-aircraft guns. He told the Palo Alto Daily News in August 2007 that he was fortunate to survive.

"It was really too low to bail out, but I didn't want to go down with a burning plane, so I ejected," he told reporter Will Oremus. "I think my chute had just opened when I landed in a tree."

Newmark was captured and made a prisoner of war. In anticipation of his first public talk about the experience a year ago, Newmark told the Daily News he was motivated to pass his perceptions along to a younger generation. The realities of air combat have changed drastically, he said.

The Wild West Air Fest at Bob Adams Field in Steamboat Springs is a diverse event, including displays of vintage aircraft and war birds, plus classic cars. A tribute to American servicemen and women will be held at noon Aug. 30.

Visitors will see radio-controlled airplane shows and have the opportunity to use computer-based flight simulators.

Newmark is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. Aug. 30 and 31. Hood will speak from 11 a.m. to noon both days.

Other events planned to take place during Labor Day weekend include the Rocky Mountain Bull Bash at 5 p.m. Aug. 31, hang gliders and para-gliders launching off of Mount Werner both days, a two-day sidewalk sale in downtown Steamboat, the Mainstreet Farmers' Market and the Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Stanko Ranch, three miles west of downtown on Twentymile Road.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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