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A good time was had by all at Santa Paula Airport’s 80th Anniversary Air Show. Dozens of vendors offered food and goods as well as other activities. The crowd lined the sidelines to watch the show. (Photos by Craig Mailloux)

Santa Paula Airport 80th Anniversary Air Show draws weekend crowds

August 18, 2010
Santa Paula News

As an airplane lazily swooped and swayed in the sky after a series of hair-raising aerobatics, Janice Dickenson looked around happily. “We’re going to have a good time,” she noted with a smile.

And a good time was had by all at Santa Paula Airport’s 80th Anniversary Air Show, where parachutists floated down some landing with a soft thud on their feet right in front of the viewing stand, vintage and modern aircraft performed, a dog-fighting duo kept the crowd enthralled, and smokers painted the sky in the two-day salute to all things aviation and Santa Paula Airport.

Wendi White of Santa Paula and her 3-year-old son of Michael were on hand to enjoy the show, which drew visitors from throughout Southern California. White’s grandparents were Rex and Mildred Wells, the iconic owners of Wells Aircraft, an airport fixture for decades.

“This is where I came every day after school,” said White, whose mother worked at Wells. “I remember Grandpa taking me up as a child” for some barrel rolls. “I don’t fly,” said White, “but I wish I had learned,” something she hopes son Michael will grow up to do.

Among the high-flying aerobatic acts was “The Tumbling Bear” Rob Harrison in his Zlin Z-50, climbing straight up into the sky, releasing blasts of smoke that enveloped the plant save for glints of metal caught by the sun. The plane appeared again falling end-over-end trailing smoke and headed straight for ground before the Zlin lazily swooped up and teasingly flew away for another round of thrills.

Marie and Jim McCoy commute between Santa Paula - where they have an airport hangar - and Texas. “It’s going to be a great show,” she noted.

“There’s so many people here,” said Dickenson, “it’s like old home week!”

Santa Paula Airport Association President Rowena Mason said although the overcast Saturday did not allow display fly-ins by the deadline, “We’re still on schedule” for the balance of the show that featured her16-year-old son Sammy making his first air show appearance doing glider aerobatics.

Vice Mayor Fred Robinson and City Manager Jaime Fontes noted the positive economic impact the airport has on the city, as well as the cultural benefits to the community. “It’s historic,” said Robinson, with strong ties to Hollywood and memorabilia featured in the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula’s String of Hangars. “It’s an exciting, fun place.”

Bruce Dickenson, whose grandfather Ralph Dickenson was the driving force behind creating the airport and who forged an aviation legacy for following generations, noted: “Between us we’ve been involved in the airport for 80 years...  and an important part of it is its huge contribution to our city; and the city recognizes the important part of the community we are.”

Janice Dickenson noted there was a movement in the 1970s to change the name of the venue to the Dickenson Airport, “but Ralph said no... it’s the community’s airport.”

Santa Paula Police Chief Steve MacKinnon said dozens of SPPD officers, Reserves and Explorers - including from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Fillmore post - were on hand for air show duty. “We have a booth and equipment set up,” including patrol cars and the dragoon, and MacKinnon noted the “event is supporting the Santa Paula Police and Fire Foundation.... We wanted to show our appreciation to the airport association.”

Officer Randy Haumann and his K-9 partner Hozy were busy with show visitors visiting the SPPD booth: “Hozy loves people, which is good... people ask me if he’s a boy, a girl, what he does.” Hozy is about to start narcotics detection training, and he’s been enjoying doing demonstrations for kids. “Of course, generous sponsors such as the Santa Paula Airport Association” help fund such K-9 training, Haumann noted.

Officer Kim Hemminger was overseeing the dozens of SPPD handouts as well as K-9 T-shirt sales. “We’re getting people coming by to say hello,” and Hemminger said she was also “enjoying myself.”

Allie Heighton, 7, of Santa Paula, at the show with her parents Jennifer and Jim, was also enjoying herself. “I like to watch the planes... would I want to fly?” said Heighton, who thought the question over for a moment. “No, but I do want a hotdog.”

“We’re real happy,” said Aviation Museum of Santa Paula President Judy Phelps, whose organization was sharing show proceeds with SPP&FF. “I love watching the aerobatics,” a sport that Phelps also teaches, “and all the good food... I was going to eat healthier today,” a goal Phelps admitted was soon abandoned.

Dozens of vendors offered food and goods as well as other activities. Barbara Kroon of the Chamber of Commerce was promoting both the Dilly Dally Car Rally and Moonlight at the Ranch IV: “The Roaring 20’s!”

The Santa Paula Art Museum booth had people stopping by, many, according to Yvonne Babcock, “surprised... they didn’t know about the museum,” but left eager to visit. “We have a prize wheel for the kiddies” and, she noted, “everybody wins!”

The show continued Sunday with a special concert by the Cruise Knights, the rock and roll often the perfect backdrop to the flying entertainment.

“I have a bag of good stuff,” said Kelly Kroon, 10, of Santa Paula. “And I like the way the planes move,” she demonstrated by swaying her shoulders.

The Air Show also featured radio control and model airplanes and a Kids Z Zone with inflatables and games, but it was the sky that held the most interest, with a variety of pilots and aircraft such as Darin Moody, Great Lakes Aerobatics; Seamus McCaughley flying aerobatics in the blue Christian Eagle; Chris Olmsted’s aerobatics in the Pitts; the Dog Fight with the Hellcat and the Zero; and Dan Gray, Legend among others.

Said Brian Cousins of Agoura Hills, sipping a brew at the Logsdon’s Patio Beer Garden overlooking the runway, “This is the best time I’ve ever had.”