High flyers bring in the crowd

Thousands of people craned their necks and squinted against the sunlight Saturday in an effort to glimpse the warbirds in flight over the Santa Maria Public Airport.

Thunder Over the Valley, put on by the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, is expected to attract about 10,000 people for the two-day air show that ends today.

“There are a lot of local people here, but also I’ve met some international fans – people who have organized vacations from Japan and Australia around this air show,” said Mike Geddry Sr., director and curator of the Santa Maria Museum of Flight.

An Atascadero resident, Robert Silva said he enjoyed attending the Santa Maria air show simply because he always liked aircraft. “I like the excitement and enjoy coming,” he said. His wife, Jolene Silva, admitted that although an air show wouldn’t be her first choice, she said, “It gets interesting and it’s a good way to kill an afternoon.”

Thunder Over the Valley gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and flight demonstrations are scheduled between 1 and 4 p.m. The show is on the south side of the airfield and guests can enter through a gate on South Blosser Road, near Foster Road.

Many families attended Saturday’s show, including Arroyo Grande’s Dan Malone, who called it an exciting, learning experience for his two sons and “something fun to do on a Saturday.” His youngest son, Michael Malone, 7, said of all the aircraft and cars, it was the bounce house that he enjoyed the most.

Another Arroyo Grande family said they enjoyed being able to explore the stationary planes and helicopters. “I’m enjoying this more than I expected,” said mother of two, Kelli Stein. “Anybody interested in seeing more and being entertained by the show should really stop by.”

Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 to 12 and $15 for a carload of four people. A $10 President’s Club admission includes a free meal, beverages and a shady place to sit and relax.

In conjunction with the aviation event, a Ford car and Santa Maria Harley-Davidson motorcycle shows are occurring.

A pancake breakfast will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. today at the museum, 3015 Airpark Drive, with eggs, sausage and pancakes costing $7 for museum members and $8 for non-members. For more information, call the Museum of Flight, 922-8758.

Sam Womack can be reached at 739-2218 or swomack@santamariatimes.com.

August 24, 2008