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Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003 02:20 pm

Fly by Rendezvousing

art746

Once again it's show time--air show time, that is--when the annual Springfield Air Rendezvous returns to Capital Airport on September 20 and 21. This year it's also celebrating the "100th Anniversary of Flight."

One of the longest-running air shows in the nation, the in-your-sky affair has been put together by an all-volunteer board. Their main goal: to promote aviation. And, brother, do they ever. In the air it's Dan Buchanan in a hang glider, Bobby Younkin in his Pitts Samson, John Mohr in a classic Stearman. Then there's Otto the Helicopter (ain't he cute) and Team Red, classic training planes built in Russia and China (isn't everything?), flown by veteran air show pilots in formation and opposing solo maneuvers. Down on good old terra firma, you can browse through experimental aircraft, military displays (whatever we're not using somewhere else in the world), and an assortment of civilian and corporate aircraft. And, of course, there will be airplane and helicopter rides for a fee. A children's area includes the "Stepping Stones to Aviation" pedal car--I mean, pedal airplane--course.

The fun starts early at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 19, with a Hangar Party at 1st Class Air Hangar One. The hoopla includes a night air show, fireworks, and a chance to meet the pilots of Air Rendezvous. The band, Area 51, hangs around until midnight. Then the gates open at 9 on Saturday morning, September 20; the flying begins at 10:30. Another hangar party takes off at 7 and flies to midnight; music will be provided by Hot Property and F 5. The gates open again at 9 on Sunday, September 21, and you can watch the planes fly by all day long until 5. Tickets are available at Hardees, Jiffi Stops, Cub Foods, Harper's, and Country Markets (Jacksonville), and online at www.springfield-il.com/airshow. Prices vary from the first-class Flight Line Chalet at $33 per person, to the second-class Preferred Seating at $17 adults and $8 for children. General admission tickets (that would be coach?) are $4 bucks for children and $8 for anyone else in advance, and $6 and $14 if you get 'em at the gate. Kids under 5 can come in for free. Avoid the traffic and park on the Illinois State Fairgrounds at Gate 11 and ride a shuttle bus to the Rendezvous. It'll cost $1.50 and be worth every penny. For more information, go on-line or call 789-4400.

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