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September 01, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Smoky Mountain Air Show takes to the skies this September

By Shannon Smith, Teknovation Assistant Editor, PYA

More planes than usual are about to touch down at McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) for two days of fun and stunt flying at the Smoky Mountain Air Show on September 10 and 11.

People are welcome to the free event to see 21 types of static aircraft on display, and seven different aerial performance groups, including the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels Demonstration Team.

If you’ve never seen them fly, it’s a pretty cool sight to behold.

“The Blue Angels are an amazing demonstration team. They go at Mach speed and hurl themselves pretty much right at each other and separate routes before they get together. And they do diamond formations, and they do these acrobatic things with aircraft that you feel like is not humanly possible to do,” said Becky Huckaby, Vice President of Public Relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.

This is the first time an air show has been held in the area since 2016, and this one will serve a few purposes – giving back to local nonprofits, assisting in recruitment for the U.S. Air Force 134th Air Refueling Wing in Knoxville, and introducing young people to the world of aviation and the career opportunities available.

Families can walk right up to specialized aircraft and participate in aviation activities, including a virtual reality simulator the Air force uses so you can feel what it’s like to fly a plane.

“The public doesn’t have the opportunities they used to, to be up close and personal with aircraft,” said Huckaby. “You actually have to buy an airplane ticket probably, or own your own airplane, to actually get in a cockpit or look at it or touch it or feel it. And so, an airshow is really important for families, and it’s really important for people who are excited about aviation, because it allows you to have that interaction with them.”

The air show grounds are located on the Tennessee Air National Guard side of the airport. No activities will be held in the commercial airport, and demonstrations will not interfere with passenger flights arriving to and leaving from TYS.

Air show gates open at 8 a.m. each day. Opening ceremonies will start around 11 a.m. and performances will begin around noon.

Precise performance times will vary depending on the air and runway space, which will be shared with commercial flights.

The Blue Angels will be the last to perform, around 3 p.m. each day.

Admission to the Smoky Mountain Air Show is free, but if you park there is a $75 fee per car. You can have up to 14 people in your vehicle, so carpooling is encouraged. There will also be drop off and pick up locations.

No outside food or drink is allowed, but attendees are encouraged to bring an empty, refillable water bottle. Free water stations will be located throughout the show grounds, which stretch about a mile long, so wear the right shoes.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase on site from local fundraising groups, like schools or sports teams, who will get to keep a portion of their proceeds.

The air show benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Smoky Mountain Air Show is presented by Denso and hosted by the 134th Air Refueling Wing and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.

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