If it was vintage and could be flown or driven, chances are good it made an appearance at the Wings Over Washington air show on August 19 and 20 at Bremerton National Airport (KPWT).
According to Jim Rothlin, the CEO of the Port of Bremerton, the event was the first air show at KPWT in 35 years.
For years, the event was known as the Freedom Fair because it usually took place on the Fourth of July and was staged at the Tacoma Narrows Airport (KTIW), some 15 miles to the southeast.
According to Tony LaStrella, the president and CEO of the Freedom Fair and the Tacoma Events Commission, when the aviation event outgrew its space at KTIW, the Port of Bremerton reached out with the idea of bringing it to Bremerton, which sports a 6,200-by-150-foot runway and sits on 1,729 acres as opposed to KTIW’s 568 acres and 5,002-foot runway.
Celebrating the Navy
Wings Over Washington celebrated the area’s Navy heritage. Bremerton Airport’s identifier, PWT, stands for Pacific Weapons Transfer Station as it was known during World War II and the Cold War.
There were several aircraft on display that were crowd favorites from the Navy arsenal. Some of them are privately owned, while others are part of collections. Among those making the show were the Erickson Aircraft Collection—an F4U Corsair, FM-2 Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, and TBM Avenger.
Greg Colyer’s Ace Maker Aviation brought out the T-33 Shooting Star, and there was a T-28 Trojan and a PBY-5A-Catalina cared for by the Soaring by the Sea Foundation. Other aerial acts included flybys by Dan Vance’s P-51 Speedball Alice, and the Cascade Warbirds.
Olde Thyme Aviation had several of its restored antique biplanes on display, and approximately 25 lucky visitors took to the skies for rides before the air show performances began.
The air show was opened by the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team—the “Skyhawks”—with LaStrella and organizers of the show singing the national anthem.
Despite hazy skies because of forest fire smoke that had drifted in from the east, there were aerobatic performances from Undaunted Airshows, a two-ship act utilizing Oregon-designed Van’s Aircraft RV-7 and RV-8 that kept fans looking skyward.
The Pacific Northwest theme continued with a performance by Portland, Oregon-based Renny Prince in a Sukhoi Su-29.
For those who preferred more terrestrial engines, Bill Braack’s Smoke-n-Thunder JetCar roared down the runway, and the south end of the airport offered a car show organized by the Bremerton Pilots Association (PBA) that featured about 70 vehicles. Organizers noted that 100 percent of the entry fees will go to supporting the BPA’s youth pilot scholarship fund.
LaStrella said the event enjoyed a pretty good turnout, estimating 3,000 people came through the gates with another 2,000 for promotion and local charities in the first year of what is hoped to be an annual event.
“The idea was to get the word out and build on the event, so that next year it’ll really take off,” LaStrella said. “I think we accomplished that as everyone had a great time. and all the community leaders and businesses now want to get involved as either sponsors or volunteers. So we’re going to keep the momentum going and offer some special opportunities this week while it’s in everyone’s mind for sponsors and ticket holders to get locked in now for next year.”
LaStrella said both VIP and premier seating were sold out. There were some businesses that came in too late to become sponsors, so he said that will be addressed for next year.