Great Bend Airfest Planned For September

Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine – April/May 2021 issue

The Great Bend Airfest will once again land at Great Bend Municipal Airport in Great Bend, Kansas. The event, held every three years because of the cost, will take flight September 17-18. 

“I don’t believe there were more than three airshows in the whole world last year because of COVID,” said airport manager, Martin Miller, when addressing the city council earlier this year. “And we figured 2021 was going to be in high demand, so we got busy.”

The committee started in November booking acts. They were successful and have a full schedule of aerial and static displays planned, with more in the works.

The last fest took place in 2018, the 75th anniversary of the a World War II Army Airbase that is now the airport. The show took attendees on a historical journey through military and civilian aviation.

“We’re going to change the format a little bit from history to entertainment,” Miller said. The show will feature more high-energy performers above the crowd.  

“We’ve got a lot of talent here and the challenge will be to put it into three to four airshows,” he said, noting that will be decided later. There may even be a nighttime show.

“All of these headliners have calendars on the web, which will include Great Bend. This leads to improved attendance since these pilots have avid followers who will make the trek to watch them.”

As for the events planned, the opening day will feature groups of school children visiting the airport, something that is always popular. There will also be the regular veterans’ recognition activities, which are well-attended as well.

Highlights will include a Soviet-era MiG-17 fighter flown by Randy Ball; nighttime antics from Matt Younkin in a Beech 18, equipped with strobes and an airshow smoke system; and the return of Larry Lumpkins and his P-51 Mustang “Gunfighter.” Various other airshow acts will take to the skies as well.

Between aerial displays, there will be entertainment on the ground, Miller said. And there will be a lot of military and historical displays as well.

“We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment on the ground,” Miller said. “Although at the airport, this is truly a city team effort.”

The fire department will provide fire and rescue support…the police department will provide security…and the public works and public lands departments will provide manpower to keep the show going. “They’ve been great partners for us,” Miller said. (https://www.greatbendairfest.com/)

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