Riverside Airshow’s 25th Anniversary

By Roxanne Stephens

Planes take off in celebration of Riverside’s annual airshow at the municipal airport

People from all over California gathered together for the Riverside’s 25th Annual Airshow to support pilots of all types at the Riverside Municipal Airport on April 1.

The event began when former Marine Tom Miller fought to keep the Riverside Municipal Airport open by displaying the local talent of aerobatic flying and honoring each military branch.

“I always make sure to include a patriotic theme or a salute,” Miller said. “Aviation is a passion in my blood after doing it for so long.”

Volunteers came out as early as 4 a.m. to help set up the event, which included food trucks, a traveling airplane museum, aircraft tours and pilot meet and greets.

The community’s support is the backbone that has made the show possible for 25 years.

For the airshows anniversary, they flew in a V-22 Osprey. The airshow is the only show in all of California to have this plane involved.

This year’s lineup included pilots Chuck Coleman, Jon Melby, Spencer Suderman and John Collver. The show’s line up also featured female pilots like Vicky Benzing, who is known for her speed, and Julie Clark, the first woman airline pilot were a part of the show. The Just in Time Skydivers captivated the audience with their colorful parachutes.

True to their fans and dedication to the arts of aerobatic flying, the pilots made themselves available to the audience.

Clark explained the adversities she faced as a woman in the aviation industry.

“If you put me on the ground, especially in a kitchen I’ll be scared,” Clark said. “I love being up in the air,” she said of her love for flying.

She also emphasized on Wally, her blue airplane and life partner who has been with her for the majority of her 36 year career.

Benzing expressed her love for her biplane,

“As an introvert all of the interpersonal conversations can be a lot,” she said. “I just want to be in my plane and fly off.”

Another pilot that performed at the show was Melby.

Melby revealed, “In the last 17 years I’ve lost 77 friends…even though it’s dangerous, I’m a performer at heart. This is a different way to perform where people will come out and say wow that’s pretty cool!”

The airshow is truly an art made for the people, and it has continually attracted a wide audience.