Hemet-Ryan’s 10th annual Air Show wows crowds
In spite of the sweltering heat, thousands of aviation enthusiasts came out to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Hemet-Ryan Air Show Saturday, June 4. The event marked the air show’s 10th anniversary.
An added bonus to this year’s air show was the addition of the 4th annual Riverside County Food Truck Festival. Attendees brought their appetites and enjoyed the best food on wheels. An employee from the Eat ‘Em Up Truck said he was surprised at the large turnout, in spite of the heat.
John Strangis, who moved to Hemet in 2014 said this was his first time going to Hemet-Ryan’s Air Show.
“It was so hot and some people were affected by the heat, but I still had a fantastic time,” Strangis said.
Attendees enjoyed browsing the different vendor booths, visiting the Hemet Police Department’s command center RV and seeing the department’s DARE vehicle. Visitors got to enjoy displays of classic cars, as well as shopping for souvenirs and eating from a variety of food provided by food trucks and other vendor booths.
“I didn’t get anything to eat from the food trucks or concession stands, but I heard everyone was really happy with the food they had,” Strangis said. “I did get an ice-cold lemonade and it was fresh, delicious and refreshing on such a hot day.”
Families with children enjoyed the Kids’ Zone where there were giant inflatable bounce houses, face painting and fun crafts for the children.
The air show included performances by aerobatic aces such as Vicky Benzing, whose stunt-performance flying wowed crowds. Kent Pietsch amazed those in attendance with his death-defying aeronautical stunts, such as a dead-stick maneuver, which entails turning the engine off from 6,000 feet. He also amazed the crowds with a rooftop landing on a moving truck. Jon Melby, in his Pitts S-I-IIB Muscle bi-plane and F-4, P-51 and F-86 flybys added to the air show’s excitement.
“Pilots had an opportunity to demonstrate fighter techniques and many of the planes trailed smoke behind them,” Strangis said. “The stunt performances and exhibition of military dogfighting tactics added to the excitement of those performing stunts. While the pilots performed, the announcer was describing their maneuvers and what they were used for, which really enhanced my experience.”
Edwardo Gonzalez, a San Jacinto resident who brought his entire family, said this was his third time visiting Hemet-Ryan’s biennial air show. Gonzalez said his favorite part of the air show was getting to see all the antique planes and watching them perform the stunts.
“Of course, my kid’s favorite part of the show was the Kids Zone,” Gonzalez said.
There was also a variety of static displays with military planes as well as vintage and civilian aircraft for attendees to get a close-up look at. Many in attendance used the wings of the planes to shade themselves from the sun, sitting in folding lawn chairs and on blankets spread out on the airport’s tarmac.
Several of the scheduled performances were either not able to perform or had their performances cut short due to a major fire incident in Temecula. However even the interruption of the air show due to CDF planes coming and going to the fire south of Temecula only added to some of the attendees experience.
“The CDF tankers coming in periodically to reload with fire-retardant and taking off to fight the fire in Temecula was really something to see,” Strangis said. “I had heard that Hemet-Ryan is where they load up because they manufacture the flame retardant there and seeing them refueling and refilling with fire-retardant was a real learning experience.
“Overall, I had a great time and everyone I talked to had a wonderful time,” Strangis said. “I was really glad I went and I am looking forward to their next air show. The event was everything I was expecting it to be and more.”