The Oregon International Air Show is returning to Hillsboro after a three-year hiatus at the Hillsboro Airport.
The air show returns in May following a year of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and two years of reconfiguring the show into a two-location format.
As was planned for the 2021 event that was postponed, this year will feature an all-female air show, with all the pilots, performers and announcers being women.
"To show that women are very active in aviation we think is going to be very inspiring for young women in particular, but really, to anyone who sees this show," said Herb Gillen, a marketing professional hired to promote the air show. "I think there's a lot of opportunity here for girls and young women to see the pilot get out of the cockpit, pull that helmet off and see, 'Hey, she looks like me.'"
Officials say there have only been a handful of international air shows that feature exclusively women.
In a statement on Twitter that was shared by the air show's account, Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway is quoted as saying, "We are delighted to have the Oregon International Air Show back in Hillsboro this May for a very special air show.
"I'm extremely proud that our community will be hosting one of the first-ever all-female air shows in the world as we celebrate the pioneering women of aviation," he continued. "When I think about the foundational experiences and events in our community, the air show always is at the top of my list."
Hillsboro has a long history of hosting the air show, starting in 1988. It was moved to McMinnville in 2019 and 2020 due to ongoing construction at the Hillsboro Airport. Then, the air show was supposed to move to a multi-city format, having one event held in McMinnville and the other held in Hillsboro.
The pandemic put a damper on those plans, with Hillsboro's show canceled and McMinnville's moving to a drive-in format. This year's display therefore marks a return to normalcy for the air show in Hillsboro.
Gillen said that he anticipates a large turnout because of this three-year gap without an air show in Hillsboro, not to mention the general dearth of events as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
"There's a lot of pent-up demand for outdoor events," Gillen said. "This is out in the open air, and there is lots of space for social distancing. With all the restrictions over the past few years … we're seeing record-breaking crowds, and not just in Oregon or the United States, but globally.
"We haven't had an air show in Hillsboro for several years, so there's a lot of excitement for that."
The air show is one of the largest events in Washington County, drawing more than 60,000 attendees during a typical year. While Washington County has hosted the air show for decades, the event is marketed to attract people from throughout the state and region.
The tagline for the event is "She Flies on Her Own Wings," the English translation of the Oregon state motto, which appears on the state seal in its original Latin, "Alis volat propriis."
In previous years, organizers of the event have said that it plans to grow to even more Oregon cities than the current two. While the pandemic has complicated those plans, Gillen said the Oregon International Air Show board is still having discussions about expanding to more cities and "bringing that love of aviation to places that maybe haven't had a chance to experience it before."
The Oregon International Air Show will be held in Hillsboro May 20 to May 22. Tickets are on sale now and range in price depending on what level of seating an attendee prefers. Online pricing for general admission tickets starts at $25, though the event website states that prices are higher at the gate and may increase as the date of the show gets closer.
Tickets for the Saturday, May 21, show are slightly more expensive than Friday or Sunday shows. Children aged 5 to 11 get reduced ticket pricing. Part of the proceeds from every year's event goes to benefit local charities.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.