Half a dozen air shows, including the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, took to the skies on Sunday, showing high-flying acrobatics for Thunder Over Michigan.

This weekend’s event at Ypsilanti’s Willow Run Airport drew aviation fans, especially for the US Navy Blue Angels featured during the afternoon shows.

“It obviously draws a big crowd,” said Thunder Over Michigan spokesman Scott Buie.

The event is an annual fundraiser for the Yankee Air Museum at Ypsilanti. It featured two shows with the US Navy Blue Angels and two with the US Air Force F-16 Demonstration Team. The F-16 Demonstration Team featured a female pilot, Capt. Aimee “Rebel” Fiedler, on its Thunder Over Michigan show for the first time.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots salute after flying at the Thunder over Michigan Air Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan on July 17, 2022.

The air show was canceled in 2020 due to COVID, but returned in 2021 with a drive-up format that continued this year. Fans bought tickets by car and watched the show from the field in and around their vehicles.

In addition to the air show, the event also featured airplanes as well as helicopter rides, food, and a “KidZone” area. Rosie the Riveters had a display of merchandise and reminded fans of the critical role women played in the former WWII bomber factory.

Cheryl Blau of Farmington chats with Maggie Morris of Novi, both Rosie the Riveter volunteers, as they work with, far right, Dawn Oblak of Clinton Township at the Thunder over Michigan Air Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan July 17, 2022.

Dennis and Pam Stom of Ann Arbor and their children, Nathan, 13, Carver, 11, and Betty, 8, are regular attendees. One of their first stops on Sunday was to visit a Navy helicopter on display, the HSC-22.

“We love the story,” Pam Stom said after the family spent time chatting with a Navy airman. “We love military history.”

They started attending the event when Nathan was 5 years old due to his interest in airplanes.

“I love the history of airplanes and I love looking at them and how the mechanisms work,” he said. “I find it interesting that they fly planes as part of their job.”

Pam Stom said she was interested in supporting the Yankee Air Museum. At $225 per car, the proceeds benefited the museum.

Shahali Akhter of Canton takes a video at the Thunder over Michigan Air Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan on July 17, 2022.

“It’s supporting a cause, and I think that’s important,” she said. “It’s not cheap to be here. I think supporting the museum is doing your part.”

About half a dozen aircraft numbers were played during the weekend’s final show, with the US Navy’s Blue Angels performing for about 35 minutes.

Jeanene Van Every said she was drawn to aerial demonstrations because of the precision and form shown by the pilots. The Howell-area resident attended the event with her husband, son and daughter-in-law.

“It’s like a ballet in the sky,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s phenomenal technology.”

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Twitter: @CWilliams_DN


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