Salute a veteran at balloonfest
Keep the American spirit in your heart and join us at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 28, for the fourth annual balloonfest Veterans Ceremony held in partnership with the Yankee Air Museum (YAM).
Balloonfest is located on the grounds of Howell Public Schools, 1200 W. Grand River Ave. in Howell. The ceremony is held at the main stage and includes an honor guard presentation of colors from the Livingston County Marine Corps League, patriotic music, special guests and a Rolling Thunder motorcycle procession. A C-47 flyover and a skydiving jump are also planned during the ceremony. Veterans attending the ceremony park free until 11 a.m. on June 28. Ron Savage, Fox 2 news anchor, is master of ceremonies for the event, which is sponsored by Comerica.
“We’re pleased and honored to be presenting the Veterans Ceremony at balloonfest, and want to recognize and honor all of our veterans as well as active duty service members,” said Roy Coons of Yankee Air Museum Public Relations. “These men and women deserve to be formally recognized and thanked for all they have done and are doing. Their sacrifices are what allows us to freely live our lives in this great country. Without these brave men and women we would not be able to have wonderful community events like the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest.”
The Yankee Air Museum display at the balloonfest includes a collection of aviation-related merchandise including the F-101 ejection seat on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Guests can also visit with ladies dressed as Rosie the Riveter in the YAM booth.
F-101 Voodoo versions included the ‘A’ and ‘C’ model Tactical Attack Fighter. These models were designed to carry a nuclear weapon at high speed and escape at full power to clear the blast effects when the weapon detonated. For pilots, the F-101 Voodoo was a friendly monster though not very forgiving. It was one of the most difficult to fly aircraft that ever served in the USAF inventory. First flown in September 1954, the first Voodoo was delivered to the Air Force in May, 1957.
The F-101 YAM has on loan was used as a test aircraft for ejection seats and is located at the museum at the Willow Run Airport in Belleville, Michigan.
Balloonfest guests will be able to sit in the ejection seat and see what a real jet seat looks and feels like. A flight helmet to accompany the ejection seat will be available so that guests may have their picture taken looking like a real Voodoo pilot.
The C-47 Yankee Doodle Dandy will be at the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport on June 28 and 29, and is available for viewing and picture taking. Flyovers at the balloonfest site are also planned.
“The C-47 is an integral part of aviation history and served as the workhorse of the American forces from World War II through Vietnam. It transported troops and equipment and served as the parachute platform for our Airborne forces,” added Coons.
More aviation at the airport
A short drive west of the balloonfest site, the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport will host an open house and fly-in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Display aircraft will be presented by Experimental Aircraft Association, Cessna Aircraft, Cirrus Aircraft and Diamond Aircraft representatives. College degree programs from Northwestern Michigan College Aviation Division and Western Michigan University College of Aviation will each have a booth. University of Michigan Survival Flight aircraft will be on display as well as many vintage warbird aircraft.
“Having an open house at the airport adds to the hot-air balloon launches and fly ins at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest,” said Mark Johnson, manager, Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport. “We want to celebrate aviation in the county and showcase the airport to the community.”
For more information about the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, visit michiganchallenge.com or call 517.546.3920.