Tacoma Freedom Fair Airshow

Tacoma Freedom Fair Airshow

Airshow Co-Sponsored by Click! Network and Northwest Ford

Our Sponsors

If you are looking for spectacular air show entertainment, great food, live music, classic cars, and let's face it, the biggest and best all-day family event of the year… Tacoma's annual Fourth of July Freedom Fair on Ruston Way promises to deliver again. Between 1:30 and 3:30 PM the Tacoma Freedom Fair Airshow will take to the skies over Commencement Bay with some of the best aviation acts in the country.

Support your Tacoma Freedom Fair and Air Show so the tradition can continue. Please donate at the entry gate. Suggested admission donations:

$2 Fan - $5 Friend - $10 LEADER - $15 PATRIOT

Souvenir pins and stickers are available on a first come first served basis for those who contribute the suggested amount or more. Pins and stickers are good for discounts with participating Freedom Fair vendors – look for the signs that display the Freedom Fair logo.

For a prime location to view the air show go to Marine Park between the Lobster Shop and Katie Downs. Spectators will have a superior view of the show and soft grass to sit on. Come early and get a good spot! KLAY 1180 AM will broadcast the air show live, so bring your radio and tune into an aerial display that epitomizes a combination of power, skill, and courage.

Don't miss the Wings & Wheels event happening on Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. It's an aviation event with a car and motorcycle show. Read more about Wings & Wheels.

Below: Air Show participants for 2015 - click photos to view larger

P-51C Mustang

The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies this rare P-51C model Mustang fighter to create interest in the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, who flew P-51s just like it during WWII. The red tail and the sound of the powerful Merlin engine ensure a crowd will gather wherever the Mustang appears at an air show.

The Mustang first flew in October 1940 and went into service in July 1942 with the RAF and later in 1942 with the U.S. Army Air Force. The Mustang served with distinction well into the 1960’s with the Dominican Republic flying them in active service until 1984!

During the war, the Tuskegee Airmen painted their airplanes with nose art and nicknames. To honor all of the Airmen, the decision was made to incorporate a color scheme that honored the four fighter squadrons of the segregated 332nd Fighter Group:

The CAF Red Tail Squadron’s rare P-51C Mustang represents all of the personnel that are now known as Tuskegee Airmen: pilots, bombardiers, navigators, ground crews, mechanics, cooks, ambulance drivers, medical staff, administrative personnel, etc.

The Squadron’s Mustang also has the phrase “By Request” on it just under the side windows. That was the name of the airplane of famed pilot and leader of the 332nd, Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. He named his airplane that to make the point that white pilots would request the Tuskegee-trained pilots to escort them on bombing missions due to their skill and courage in protecting the bombers.

Read more about the Tuskegee Airmen at Redtail.org

P-51C Mustang 'By Request'

Vicky Benzing Aerosports

Born and raised in California, Vicky Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic competitor, and Reno racer. With over 6000 hours of flight time and over 1100 parachute jumps, Vicky has a passion for everything airborne.

Inspired by that flight at a very young age, Vicky was lucky enough to learn to fly while in college earning her pilot’s license in a family friend’s antique Taylorcraft in her hometown of Watsonville, California. Since then, her flying career has spanned over thirty years and today she holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters and seaplanes.

In addition to her aerobatic pursuits Vicky earned a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and has had a successful career in the Silicon Valley high tech industry. Vicky feels that she has been fortunate to be able to fly and to do many of the things that she has been able to do in her life. She wants the young people in the audience to know that they can achieve any goal that they set for themselves through hard work and patience. “Go to school and study hard and you can do anything you set your mind to,” she says.

Read more on Vicky Benzing's website.

Stearman PT-17

Sukhoi SU-29

The Sukhoi SU-29 was built in Moscow Russia in 1995 and is considered to be the very best two place unlimited competition aircraft in the world today. It boasts a 360 HP, 9 cylinder radial engine that starts with compressed air.

Wingspan 27 FT, Length 24 FT - Empty weight 1738 pounds (Less than a fully loaded Cessna 150) - With pilot and fuel for a show flight, 2028 pounds. Roll rate is 360 Degrees per second.

Flown by Renny Price of Tualatin Oregon. A former airline Captain in both Airbus and Boeing aircraft, Renny has amassed 23500 hours total flight time. He is rated as an Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Engineer, Multi-Engine Instrument, Flight Instructor and is currently flying private corporate jets. He is also an FAA check pilot and is married with four children.

His first flight was in the summer of 1969 at Aurora State Airport. Renny and the Sukhoi are based at the Aurora state airport in Aurora Oregon. When Renny is not flying he spends his time fishing, hunting, playing the guitar and of course talking, teaching and learning about flying aerobatics.

Sukhoi SU-29

P-51 "Speedball Alice”

Dan Vance is the owner and operator of this beautiful North American P-51D Mustang "Speedball Alice", which is available for airshows, flybys, film and also for a 10-15 minute warbird aerobatic airshow routine. "Speedball Alice" is also a regular unlimited racer at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

The P-51 was designed and built by North American Aviation after the British government approached them to build P-40 Warhawks under license. North American believed they could design a better fighter, and the British government gave them 120 days to prove it. 102 days after the order was placed, the first Mustang was completed, flying for the first time on October 26, 1940. The prototype and subsequent P-51A utilized the Allison V-1710 liquid cooled engine. Lacking an effective engine supercharger, the Allison provided insufficient power for the high-altitude environment the P-51 was designed to operate in. By replacing the Allison engine with a Rolls-Royce V-1650 Merlin engine that had a two-stage supercharger, the necessary power and performance was gained. The Merlin engine, which was built in the U.S. under license by the Packard Motor Car Company, was installed in all further P-51 models from the “B” through the “H” versions.

P-51 "Speedball Alice”
P-51 "Speedball Alice”Photo credit: Roger CainTF-51 Lady Jo

Harvard flown by David Watson

David grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and after moving through Toronto and Calgary, now resides in Beaumont, Alberta. David is a business owner of which he begain with his father over 20 years ago. Today he flies purely for recreation; he enjoys the discipline and skill required for aerobatic and formation flying.

In David's younger years, he tagged along with his father and other Western Warbird Association members, flying (or riding) in everything from Chipmunks, Harvards, Mentors, Expeditors, and a wide variety of other warbirds.

Read more in David Watson's Bio.

Harvard flown by Drew Watson

Drew resides in Edmonton with his wife, Wendy, and two teenage children. Drew is a business owner in the information technology sector, providing consulting services to businesses in the Edmonton region. Drew is a lifelong learner who, among his aviation education, is a recent graduate of Grant MacEwan University's Bachelor of Commerce program.

Drew's passion for warbirds started when he had his first ride in his father's ex-RCAF Chipmunk. Drew was exposed to more warbirds as he grew up while travelling to various airshows, fly-ins, and social gatherings with his father. At these events Drew managed to scrounge rides by cleaning airplanes for their owners; these rides were in a variety of ex-military aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, B-25 ‘Mitchell’ Bomber, Harvard, Cessna Crane ‘The Bamboo Bomber’, Stearman, and the Beech 18 ‘Expeditor’.

Read more in Drew Watson's Bio.

Harvard Harvard

TA-4J Skyhawk

The TA-4J Skyhawk is sponsored by Clay Lacey Aviation and Mr. Graham Tash

The TA-4J Skyhawk model entered production in June 1969. It became the longest-serving of the Skyhawks as the US Navy’s standard advanced jet trainer until replaced in the early 1990’s with the T-45A Goshawk. The TA-4J descended from the Navy and Marine Corps single-seat light attack aircraft designed in the early 1950s by a team of Douglas Aircraft engineers lead by Ed Heinemann. The first Skyhawk prototype flew in June 1954.

The Skyhawk was one of the most successful attack aircraft in US Navy and Marine Corps service. Single-seat Skyhawks were much used by Navy and Marine Corps squadrons during the Vietnam War. Its low delta wing of 27 feet 6 inches (8.4m) was small enough not to require folding on aircraft carrier decks.

During service, the Skyhawk acquired several nicknames, including Heinemann's Hot Rod, Mighty Mite, Scooter, Tinker Toy, and Bantam Bomber.

This TA-4J is owned and Operated by Pacific Aero Ventures out of Bellevue WA and is flown by Mr. Don Keating

This TA-4J is sponsored by:

C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required. The inherent flexibility and performance of the C-17 force improve the ability of the total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements of the United States.

Features The aircraft is operated by a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster), reducing manpower requirements, risk exposure and long-term operating costs. Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a large aft door that accommodates military vehicles and palletized cargo. The C-17 can carry virtually all of the Army's air-transportable equipment.

Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms), and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms). The C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles. Its cruise speed is approximately 450 knots (.74 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and equipment.

The design of the aircraft allows it to operate through small, austere airfields. The C-17 can take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet (1,064 meters) and only 90 feet wide (27.4 meters). Even on such narrow runways, the C-17 can turn around using a three-point star turn and its backing capability.

The C-17 is operated by Air Mobility Command at Travis AFB, Calif.; Dover AFB, Del.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The West Coast Ravens

The West Coast Ravens are a group of pilots who fly their homebuilt Van's RV type aircraft in precise formation demonstrations for fly-ins, veteran's events, and airshows. By flying to very exacting standards derived from military flight training, the group performs demonstrations of varying sizes for events up and down the West Coast. Although the organization contains some professional pilots and retired military pilots, most are civilian trained pilots who work in other fields and fly for recreation. The Ravens will be performing a 6-ship demonstration for the Tacoma Freedom Festival with pilots from Washington, Oregon, and California.

Confirmed air show acts:

  Vickey Benzing Stearman Aerobatics
  P-51 "Speedball Alice"
  Sukhoi SU-29 flown by Renny Price
  P-51C Mustang
  Harvards flown by David Watson and Drew Watson
  West Coast Ravens
  TA-4J Skyhawk
  C-17 Globemaster III

This is not a schedule. The order of the acts is subject to change.

Air Show Announcers

Airshow Announcers

Ken started his announcing career just four short years ago under the expert guidance of veteran airshow announcers, Roy Hafeli and Bob Singleton. Ken grew up around the Abbotsford International Airshow, and as a young boy, thrilled to the incredible displays flown by amazing pilots in their flying machines.

He thought those guys behind the microphones had a pretty cool job too and dreamed of one day being an announcer himself. A theatre producer, director and actor by profession, Ken is the Executive Artistic Director of Gallery 7 Theatre & Performing Arts Society located in Abbotsford, B.C.

Air show will be broadcast live on
KLAY AM 1180