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2016 Oregon International Air Show blasts off at Hillsboro Airport

Annual event brings people of all walks of life together

CHASE ALLGOOD - The audience snaps pictures of the US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey as is hovers over the Hillsboro Airport during the 2016 Oregon International Air Show Friday Night.Lee Faulk loves his job.

Just ask him.

“I get to stand next to these beautiful planes all day, and enjoy the weather and talk to people,” he said, all smiles. “What’s not to like?”

The Oregon International Air Show rocketed into action on Friday, kicking off a weekend of high-flying aerobatics at the Hillsboro Airport.

Wearing a bright reflective vest, Faulk, the program coordinator with the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum at the airport, spent Friday evening chatting enthusiastically with air show attendees, answering questions about several planes on display.

“We had a guy today who came in to look at one of our F-5 aircraft we got from Taiwan," he said. "I started to talk to him about the plane and he said, ‘This is my dad’s plane.’ It had his name written on it. It turned out his dad had been a trainer and flew that plane. What are the odds?”

More than 60,000 people are expected to head out to the air field this weekend taking in the sights, including the Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet, the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey and performances by the Breitling Jet Team, Europe’s largest civilian aerobatic flight team.

Overhead, a plane rocketed away from the airstrip, making a wide arc before coming back for another pass.

Thousands may be packing into the Hillsboro Airport over the weekend, but the planes can be seen from miles around and plenty of families spent their Friday evening outside the airport’s gates.

With tables of food and plenty of beer, the Hall family sat outside Cascade Tool and Foam, 1982 N.E. 25th Ave., watching the planes dip and dodge high above their heads.

“We do this every year,” Cascade owner Marilyn Hall said as her husband and family members took seats in camping chairs in the business’ parking lot. The family-run business has been holding the small private event for years, enjoying the sights and sounds of the air show from afar.

“It’s just fun,” she said. “It brings everybody together.”

Back in the sky, Wilsonville pilot Renny Price corkscrewed up into the air as Debbie Wells Tunison, of Vancouver, Wash., handed out fliers to passersby at her booth near the back edge of the air field.

Tunison is a volunteer with USO Northwest, a local nonprofit that works with the United Service Organizations to serve military families.

CHASE ALLGOOD - The U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team floats through the sunset Friday night.The theme for 2016 air show — “Heroes of the Pacific” — commemorates the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the show will feature a number of aircraft that were active in the Pacific Theatre during WWII.

That’s a perfect fit for the USO, Tunison said. For decades, the USO has been associated with shows for the troops, starring entertainers such as Bob Hope.

USO Northwest opened a center for military families in Portland International Airport two years ago. Tunison said that the group is trying to get away from the dated image of World War II-era song and dance numbers.

“New people don’t understand what that’s about,” she said.

Instead, USO Northwest works with local military families in Oregon and Washington, holding family picnics and get-togethers across the state.

“It’s a passion for me to help support the military,” said fellow USO volunteer Christa Woods. “I can’t donate a lot of money, but I can donate my time. I love the people that come and talk to us. They have such great stories.”

Across the tarmac, Faulk said he has been attending the air show since the mid-1980s as part of a lifetime love of aviation.

“Growing up, my dad told me I must be a reincarnated World War II bomber pilot,” he said, laughing. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been enthralled with airplanes. Especially World War II airplanes. There’s this nostalgia about them. The sound of a B-51? Those engines have a sound to them that is unmistakable. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I’ve always been drawn to them.”

The Oregon International Air Show runs Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7 at Hillsboro Airport, 3355 NE. Cornell Road.

CHASE ALLGOOD - Renny Price buzzes his Sukhoi-29 past Matt Younkin's Beech 18 Friday night.

By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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