A TBM Avenger torpedo bomber flies over the Steamboat Springs Airport during the 2013 Wild West Air Fest. This year's event will get started Saturday, but look for planes flying over Steamboat Springs on Friday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

A TBM Avenger torpedo bomber flies over the Steamboat Springs Airport during the 2013 Wild West Air Fest. This year's event will get started Saturday, but look for planes flying over Steamboat Springs on Friday.

Eyes to the sky this Labor Day Weekend for Wild West Air Fest

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Schedule

Saturday

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild West Air Fest, Steamboat Springs Airport

10 a.m. Spot landing demo by the Piper Cub aircraft

10 a.m. Presentation: "DUSTOFF: One Pilot's Perspective" by Nissa Brodman

11 a.m. Tribute to the troops, Steamboat Springs Airport (including the Steamboat Springs Civil Air Patrol cadets honor guard, missing man formation in the air and skydivers)

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Airshow with aerobatics performed by the Renegades, and Don Nelson in his Sukoi aircraft

1 p.m. Presentation: "Flying a Single Engine Plane over 11,000 miles of ocean; You've got to be nuts!" by Ian Runge

Sunday

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild West Air Fest, Steamboat Springs Airport

10 a.m. Spot landing demo by the Piper Cub aircraft

10 a.m. Presentation: "Flying a Single Engine Plane over 11,000 miles of ocean; You've got to be nuts!" by Ian Runge

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Airshow with aerobatics performed by the Renegades, and Don Nelson in his Sukoi aircraft

1 p.m. Presentation: "DUSTOFF: One Pilot's Perspective" by Nissa Brodman

— On Friday morning, be sure to look up at the sky.

As pilots begin to flock to Steamboat Springs for the 10th annual Wild West Air Fest happening this weekend, they plan to break through the clouds in style.

Pilots won’t just fly into the airport, they'll also make an overhead pass through town to announce their arrival.

“They are headed to the airport anyway, so we told them to do a swing through town so people know they are here,” Debby Standefer said.

This year, the festival will feature aerobatic air shows for the first time in Steamboat. There will be flips, dips, turns and anything that could make one’s stomach churn.

Sixteen years ago, Standefer discovered what it would take to organize an air show after attending an International Air Show Convention. Serving as a balloonmeister and organizer of numerous balloon festivals, she found that an air show was a whole different ballgame.

“You can incorporate all different kinds of things and all kinds of aircrafts into an air show,” Standefer, one of the main organizers of the event, said about the somewhat endless opportunities an air show offered for entertainment.

Last year was her first year organizing the event, and this year, she wanted to incorporate new elements to the show to offer more for attendees.

In order to have the air show, Standefer had to go through a process to get approval from the Denver Flight Standards District Office as well as the Federal Aviation Administration. She needed to obtain permission from these organizations to have an exemption from air regulations in the area and for the pilots to perform the aerobatics in front of a group of people.

Along with the process of applications and approvals, it took collaborative coordination efforts from an expert Airboss, Chip Lamb, to coordinate the fine details of the event.

Not only will the festival feature an aerial ballet of sorts, there also will be an opportunity for attendees to take a ride in a few of the planes and even watch a glider demonstration.

“My whole mission in life is to encourage people to get involved in aviation, whether that be ballooning, gliding, airplanes or even helicopters — it doesn’t matter — but it’s important for people to learn about breaking those bonds with the earth to have an exhilarating experience,” Standefer said.

On a smaller scale than most air shows, the Steamboat spectacle will give attendees the chance to meet their performers and converse with them about their background and passion for flying.

“It’s more of a home-cooking style of an air show,” said Lamb, who is a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve with more than 30 years served in the military, is an FAA certified flight Instructor and has more than 13,000 hours of flight time. “This will be a really nice, intimate, almost semi-private affair.”

For Lamb, his love for flying aircraft came to fruition when he was a child and attended his first air show.

“It was the roar of the military jet engine and the thunder and power behind it,” he said, reliving that moment in his childhood. “That to me was a great excitement, and I said, 'That’s what I want to do when I grow up.'”

Paying it forward for the kids who get to come see the planes and meet the pilots, Lamb said he and other pilots enjoy performing for the crowds and hope for a great turnout this weekend full of high-flying fun.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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