Flying high

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Jan Collmer in his Extra 300L performs an aerobatics display Saturday during the 2013 Denton Airshow at Denton Enterprise Airport.
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Record-breaking crowd turns out for Denton Airshow

An estimated 12,000-plus spectators came out to the annual Denton Airshow at Denton Enterprise Airport on Saturday, breaking attendance records, officials said.

The air show has evolved over the years, but it’s always been a place to find aviation enthusiasts. Whether it’s seeing the air acrobats or touring inside the Commemorative Air Force’s World War II Douglas R4D Skytrain, there is something for every enthusiast — young and old alike.

“My 20-month-old son, Camden, loves airplanes and so we thought this would be a fun family outing,” said Sara Baker, a first-time attendee from Corinth.

The annual event takes a year of preparation, said Amanda Addington, the marketing director for Denton AirFair Inc.

“As soon as this one wraps, we will take a week or two off, then meet up for a briefing on what we need to do for next year’s event,” she said.

Denton AirFair is a nonprofit that formed in the early 2000s to help put on the show and make it what it is today, Addington said. The organization’s mission is to inspire and educate people about aviation.

Addington said she feels that mission was shown on Friday, when a preview of the Denton Airshow was given for the summer camp children from Denia Recreation Center.

“Pilot J.D. Daniel invited the kids to his aircraft and taught them the history of the craft before posing for a group photo,” she said.

Addington said the preview day generally features several military aircraft and personnel. However, budget cuts from the federal sequestration led to the grounding of military jet and demonstration teams. But organizers were still able to present an air show for Denton, Addington said.

“Most air shows were canceled because of this,” Addington said. “We are one of 100 shows still going on across the U.S.; 200 were canceled.”

Denton AirFair contracts with David Schultz Air Shows to feature the pilots in the sky.

Quentin Hix, director of aviation for the airport, said he attributed much of the record-breaking attendance to the weather.

Temperatures were in the mid-80s and skies were overcast for much of the show.

“We were really lucky today that the weather turned out to be so nice,” he said.

Hix, in his fifth year as director, said show personnel managed to handle the crowd nicely with help of the Denton police and fire departments and more than 100 volunteers — also a record-breaking number this year.

At one of the top 10 busiest airports in Texas, Hix said there is always room for improvement, and the 18-member show committee has done better and better each year.

Bob Toombs, a pilot since 1975 who lives in the Lantana area, summed up the show’s community spirit while taking in the 30 aircraft on display.

“This is a wonderful community effort with reasonably priced tickets and good organization,” he said. “And the warbirds are nice.”

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.

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