Warbird Expo 2016
Celebrating the amazing history of military aviation, the 2016 CAF Warbird Expo will be held June 18 with special events the day before. The 2016 CAF Warbird Expo has moved to Indianapolis Regional Airport, formerly known as Mt. Comfort Airport.
Last year had close to 10,000 attendees. “Parking was definitely a challenge,” says Van Zant. “Indianapolis Regional Airport has ample space for parking; however, we are encouraging attendees to load up their cars with their family and friends and buy their parking pass early to ensure a spot.”
The CAF Warbird Expo was started by the Commemorative Air Force with the purpose to honor our military veterans and celebrate our rich history of aviation. The CAF also raises money and awareness for the preservation of these historic Warbird planes with the ultimate goal of building a local interactive aviation museum.
The CAF is a national organization with a strong presence throughout the Midwest. They run many of the largest air shows across the country.
CAF Warbird Expo Chairman Mark Van Zant, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served for 10 years, earned his degree in aviation and started his own business after serving his country. A Highland High School graduate, Van Zant had an early love of aviation and earned his pilot’s license while he was in high school.
“Event Chair Mark Van Zant has done an amazing job of planning the relocation of CAF Warbird Expo to Indy Regional Airport, leading a large team of volunteers and partnering with more universities and nonprofits in order to expand the event and better achieve our goals of honoring veterans, remembering military aviation history and inspiring youth,” shares CAF Wing Leader Dennis Schell.
This year, the CAF Warbird Expo has partnered with Indy Honor Flight. A plane pull is one of the new activities added to the events calendar during the air show. “We have teams and individuals who will work together to pull a plane with a rope, much like a strong man’s competition,” shares Van Zant. “The funds go to honoring veterans and sharing their stories.”
The weekend kicks off with a Hops and Props event on Friday night sponsored by Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery from 6-9 p.m. The evening will include music from the 1940s along with professional ballroom dancers performing choreography indicative of the era. Many WWII re-enactors will be mingling with the crowd, and there will be 28 tables displaying WWII Museum artifacts. The event will also feature local breweries and food.
Saturday highlights include the CAF Red Tail Squadron celebrating the history of the Tuskegee Airmen. A movie will be shown documenting their story, and a former Tuskegee pilot will be speaking.
“This is a marvelous traveling museum,” shares Van Zant. “A 53’ semi trailer has a theater inside where attendees can sit, watch and listen to the history of these amazing men. The crew that travels with this exhibit is incredible. It’s not to be missed.”
The Red Tail Squadron exhibit will be available both Friday evening and all day Saturday.
The CAF Warbird Expo is interactive with a strong focus on involving children and STEM. The day-long kids camp held on Friday sold out months in advance. However, on Saturday, there are plenty of engineering, weather and navigation activities for kids to explore a variety of options to peak their curiosity about aviation. Purdue University, Vincennes University and Indiana State University will have simulators and activities for kids designed to introduce a new generation to aviation.
“This is a mini-air show with the real experience happening on the ground. Although we will have some planes in the air and rides available, the skies will have non-aerobatic action,” says Van Zant. “There is a lot that’s going on, and we are definitely family-focused.”
Although admission is free, there is a fee for parking. Passing can be purchased online at warbirdexpo.com.