“Shutik Isht Ia” is Choctaw for “Take to the skies,” which is exactly what will happen this weekend in Durant, Okla., when the world of aviation will descend on the City of Magnolias.
Sponsored by Choctaw Casino & Resort, the Take to the Skies Airfest – which will take place at the Durant Regional Airport Eaker Field – will commemorate those who have served and are serving in the armed forces. Saturday’s opening ceremonies will include Choctaw dancers, singers, honor guards, fly-bys, skydivers and more.
President of the Take to the Skies AirFest Debby Standefer said the event is an experience that will affect all the senses, with something to offer people of every age, as it is the first air show of the season for Oklahoma and North Texas.
“We are very exited to be working with and promoting the city of Durant and their beautiful airport, as well as the unique opportunity to feature cultural information and education of the Choctaw Nation,” said Standefer in a release. “We are proud to honor our military during our show.”
While the show will be honoring the armed forces, it also marks the first airshow in Durant and celebrates the newly renovated airport, which was revamped about a year ago. The facility is named after General Ira Eaker, an aviation pioneer and war hero, and is located in a city home to the headquarters of both the Choctaw Nation and Choctaw Casino & Resort.
Before and after the airshow, guests will be entertained with helicopters, airplanes, war birds, powered parachutes, skydivers and radio control aircraft in static displays and demonstrations. The professionals won’t be the only ones taking flight, however, as the public will also have a chance to ride in helicopters, airplanes, war birds and biplanes. Tandem skydives and tethered balloon rides, weather permitting, will be available on Saturday evening before the “Lite the Nite” balloon glow as well.
On Saturday evening, hot air balloons will light up as the sun goes down, standing inflated in static display. The balloons will perform twinkle burns, waves and all burns as directed by the announcer. This is the one time when spectators may be able to come up close to the balloons, talk to the pilots and see just how everything looks and works.
One of the stars of the AirFest is Chip Lamb of Southlake. The lead for the Trojan Phlyers Demo Team will be flying his Trojan T28 Warbird, a vessel built in 1953 piloted by former Navy, Marine and Air Force vets. The team itself is piloted by highly decorated combat veteran pilots, as Lamb is a retired fighter pilot in National Guard who joined the Phylers in 2000 after missing the adrenaline rush of flying.
“It’s been a new experience,” Lamb said. “You’ll see airplanes literally doing rolls and flying upside down about 100 feet off of the ground. That has an adrenaline rush of its own.”
Admission is $5 per person; children 6 years of age or younger are free. Tickets will be available at the gate or through the Durant Chamber of Commerce. For information on the Take to the Skies AirFest, visittaketotheskiesairfest.com or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
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