The Oregon International Air Show returns to the Hillsboro Airport this weekend for the first time in four years.
Organizers say this year's three-day showcase will feel just like the popular air shows of the past — though with a special twist.
The program features an all-female cast of performers, announcers and event coordinators, a concept that the air show's board has envisioned for years that's finally coming to fruition.
"It was an idea we had for a number of years but runway construction and COVID … there were a number of things that got in the way of that," said board chair Steph Stricklen. "It truly is incredible to have this event both back at the Hillsboro Airport, but also as an event that highlights women in aviation specifically."
Stricklen said there hasn't been an all-female air show in North America since just after World War II, and there have only been a handful of such shows globally.
The event will feature flight demos from U.S. Air Force teams flying F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters, F-16 Fighting Falcons and a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet demo team. There will also be performances from a pilot flying a 1940 Boeing Stearman and a skydiving demonstration from the Misty Blues Team.
That's just to name a few of the attractions that will be conducted and exhibited exclusively by women.
No, that doesn't mean men can't attend or aren't welcome at the event, organizers said.
"It will truly feel like the traditional air show experience. It just so happens that they are all going to be women," Stricklen said.
Mirroring the all-female lineup and celebrating the Beaver State, the theme of this year's event is "She Flies With Her Own Wings," the Oregon state motto.
The event was moved to McMinnville in 2019 due to ongoing construction at the Hillsboro Airport, a blow to a Hillsboro community that has hosted an annual air show since 1988. In 2020 and 2021, the showcase was canceled altogether because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
With that move to McMinnville, the air show now has a recurring second venue, and the board is organizing a completely different event for the Yamhill County city in August. Organizers say more cities may be added to the roster of events throughout the state in future years, as demand keeps growing.
Hillsboro's three-day event runs from Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22. The fly-bys and specific time slots for each performance may vary by day, but the program will feature most of the same demonstrations each day.
Friday's show starts later, at 6 p.m., and will be the only one with an evening fireworks display.
There will still be flying exhibitions, however. Saturday's event will be the only one to feature a fly-by from a massive U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry plane, according to the event's website.
Stricklen says the flight schedule for each day won't be set until the morning of the event, so a firm schedule isn't available yet, but she expects around 60,000 attendees throughout the course of the weekend. Saturday tickets are slightly more expensive, and all ticket pricing is more expensive at the gate as opposed to purchasing online. Children aged 5 to 11 get reduced pricing.
There will also be food vendors, a beer garden, and exhibits where attendees can learn more about aviation and some of the female pioneers of the industry.
As usual, part of the proceeds from this year's event goes to local charities. The past two years of shows have benefitted the Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone classroom, which is a career technical training program for high school students to get into engineering or piloting careers.
"Hillsboro is very welcoming and super-supportive," Stricklen said. "We love having the air show here."
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