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Annual air show will light up Washington County skies this weekend

Even without the Blue Angels, this year's Oregon International Air Show is sure to leave visitors with strained necks as they gaze into the sky over Washington County this weekend.

The event, which runs Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16, will feature civilian and military flying acts as well as the one of the largest firework displays in Oregon.

'We absolutely have the biggest show we've ever had,' said Steve Callaway, media coordinator and board director for the air show, held at the Hillsboro Airport.

Among the highlights of this year's line-up will be the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Jump Team. During the day, the jumpers will perform with canisters strapped to their ankles that emit colorful smoke as they tumble through the air.

At night, the canisters will be replaced with pyrotechnic spark devices to enhance visibility, said Staff Sgt. Chris Altman, a performer with the group.

Visitors to the Oregon International Air Show will see plenty of plane and jet acrobatics as well. An act with particular appeal for history buffs will be performed by Lt. Col. Rodger Kelsay, the founder and president of the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum in Hillsboro.

The plane Kelsay will fly in, a Soviet-era MiG-17F, is a relic of the Cold War and the same model the North Vietnamese used against the U.S. in the 1960s. The museum acquired the aircraft in 1995 and restored it to flight status; it had originally been built in 1958 in Poland and used in that country's air force.

'It was up there defending the Iron Curtain, so to speak, but whether this particular one saw any action is sketchy,' said museum director Doug Donkel. 'Eastern European airplanes are quite interesting from the engineering standpoint.'

The museum's flight demonstrations, the parachute show, and other spectacles will occur on both days of the Oregon International Air Show, but the only time you can catch the Homeland Fireworks Extravaganza and Pyro Show is on Saturday night.

Bruce Lawson, owner of Homeland Fireworks, said the planned wall of fire will be bigger than anything done previously. Not only will there be a greater variety and quantity of exploding shells, but twice the number of blasting guns.

The Saturday, July 15, show begins at 4 p.m. Sunday. The July 16, show begins at 11 a.m.

Advance tickets cost $15 for adults and $9 for children 6 to 12 years-old, or seniors over 65. Admission is free for kids 5 and under. When purchased at the gate, tickets are $3 more, so order before Friday, July 14, at 5 p.m.

More details of the show will be included in the July 12 issue of the News-Times.