Great Colorado Air Show in Loveland draws thousands to see Blue Angels fly over Northern Colorado
Thousands of people set up folding chairs and laid out picnic blankets at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport on Saturday to watch the Great Colorado Air Show, headlined by the Blue Angels.
Day one of the air show, which hasn’t been to Northern Colorado in nearly two decades, sold out thousands of tickets days in advance, according to Jim Havey, who managed the show’s public relations. Eleven different air groups performed, starting around 11:15 a.m. and continuing until 4 p.m.
Havey said there were about 15,000 attendees on Saturday, and they were expecting the same for Sunday.
The air show was expected to cause major traffic delays in the surrounding area, though many people said they had no problem getting to the show in a reasonable time and Havey said it was “very smooth coming in,” in part because people came early.
Tom Batt and his two sons drove up from Denver in just 45 minutes, primarily to see the Blue Angels, he said. Batt has been a fan of the Blue Angels since the 1950s and said he’s been going to any air show he can since then. He said he’s seen the Blue Angels probably 15 times since he was a kid.
The Blue Angels performed in their new aircraft, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is faster and about 33% larger than their previous aircraft.
Edd Taylor and his son Blake also came up from the Denver area to see the Blue Angels in action.
“I’ve been watching the Blue Angels since I was a little kid,” Edd said, and Blake, who came dressed as a Blue Angel plane, shared his father’s excitement. When Blake was born, Edd said the Blue Angels were warming up outside and they’ve made a point to go to air shows together ever since.
Thousands of young kids ran around the airport grounds, playing with model Blue Angel planes or other memorabilia sold at the event, and checked out various activity booths. There were also a number of different Air Force planes around the show for attendees to look at and even sit in.
Like many others, Jon Comes came to the show because his son has an interest in planes and wanted to see the Blue Angels do their famous aerobatics. Comes himself said air shows are “cool as heck,” but he hadn’t been to one in years.
Brandon Peterson also hadn’t seen the Blue Angels in nearly two decades, but he and Christina Peterson traveled from Westminster to see them perform Saturday. Christina said they usually attend the Rocky Mountain Air Show near their home but hadn’t in a few years and were excited to see one featuring the Blue Angels.
In addition to the headlining group, attendees saw other performances, like the Rocky Mountain Renegades air show team and the Air Force and Navy parachute teams.
Few traffic issues with expensive traffic plan in place
To avoid traffic problems like what Northern Colorado faced the last time the Blue Angels were here in 2002, most construction on Interstate 25 was shut down around noon Friday through the rest of the weekend.
The airport parking lots opened at 8 a.m. and the gates opened at 9 a.m.; times are the same for the Sunday show. The airport’s parking was limited to 5,500 vehicles.
Jim Breen, the president and CEO of the Airshow Network, previously told the Coloradoan “the $100,000 traffic plan for the weekend is the most Air Show Network has ever spent on a traffic plan.”
The expensive plan seemed to pay off, as there were few reports of long waits to get into the show or problems parking.
Comes, who came from Wellington, said he left around 10:30 and got the air show around 11:15. Others who travelled from Denver and its surrounding area also estimated it took around 45 minutes.
From midtown Fort Collins, it took around 30 minutes to get to the air show if one left at 10:45 a.m.
Havey said that the air show producers capping the crowd size helped to “give aviation fans a great experience” and keep traffic running smoothly.
Roads around the Northern Colorado Regional Airport — including parts of North Boyd Lake Road and East County Road 30 — will remain closed through Sunday’s show in efforts to keep traffic flowing well.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This content was originally published here.