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  • Hector Amezcua /

    Cody Johnson, 7, of Shingle Springs looks out of a dome on the front of an HU-16 Albatross twin-engine amphibious airplane on Friday in advance of the California Capital Airshow. The plane was used by the Navy as a search-and-rescue craft.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Peter Alexander of Palo Alto looks out on the tarmac at Mather Airport after arriving in his vintage 1957 T-28C plane Friday in advance of this weekend’s California Capital Airshow .

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Peter Alexander of Palo Alto waxes his vintage 1957 T-28C fixed-wing single-engine aircraft after arriving Friday at Mather Airport in advance of this weekend’s California Capital Airshow .

  • Hector Amezcua /

    The Red Bull Air Force team, which features aerobatic pilot Kirby Campbell and wing-suited fliers, practices on Friday.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Historic airplanes sit in a row Friday at Mather Airport in preparation for display this weekend at the California Capital Airshow. Pictured at left, Peter Alexander of Palo Alto hand waxes his vintage 1957 T-28C fixed-wing single-engine aircraft from 1957 after arriving Friday.

More Information

  • Sacramento air show unaffected by shutdown
  • If you go

    What: California Capital Airshow, featuring more than five hours of flight events and 2 acres of aviation history on display

    When: Saturday and Sunday; gates open at 9 a.m., performances from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Where: Mather Airport, 10510 Superfortress Ave.

    Tickets: Adults, $15; minors, 6-12, $7.50, Children, 5 and under, free; parking $10

Air show boss: jets alone don’t tell the story of aviation

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 - 1:55 am

Darcy Brewer, the woman at the helm of the California Capital Airshow, admits she’s conflicted: jets sell tickets, but she’d rather talk about her love affair with the P-51 Mustang, the Berlin Airlift, or Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 visit to Sacramento.

The air show runs today and Sunday at Mather Airport in Rancho Cordova. The event, in its eighth year, features the Canadian Snowbirds jet demonstration team and the Red Bull Air Force parachute team.

Brewer is glad to have the Canadian team and expects them to put on a crowd-pleasing display of precision flying. And it turns out that booking the Snowbirds two years ago was a stroke of luck, given that the top U.S. military teams – the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds – have been grounded by Pentagon sequestration budget cuts and have canceled their planned appearances.

Brewer and her team know that it pays to build the marketing campaign around the jets, but she stresses the event would not be diminished if it had no jet-powered attraction.

“It’s not about the jets. The jets just sell tickets,” said Brewer, who has been a pilot for 20 years. It’s aviation history and vintage airplanes that start her heart racing.

“You never forget flying a Mustang,” she said. “There is nothing like them.”

With both fighter and fighter/bomber configurations, the P-51 Mustang helped establish the Allied forces’ air superiority during World War II. The planes have since become a highly coveted collector’s item for aviation buffs.

Several P-51s will be among the dozens of aircraft on display at the air show. For about the price of a movie ticket, Brewer said, the air show is a great value, offering five hours of aviation history. She said the point is to tell a story, not just have cool planes fly overhead.

“The magic thing for me is, a little over 100 years ago, people thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like to fly like a bird,’” Brewer said. In the years since, we can now travel to space, circle the globe without stopping and fly jumbo jets across the country.

“There are people out here that have changed the course of history,” she said, referring to some of the old-timers who will be on hand.

In keeping with past years, the event will highlight a historic event in aviation history. This year, the focus will be on the Berlin Airlift. An early standoff during the post-WWII Cold War, the Berlin Airlift saw U.S. and British forces fly thousands of shipments to West Berlin, which had been blockaded by the Soviet Union in an attempt to consolidate control of Berlin. The operation fed 2.25 million Berlin residents for months and led to the peaceful fall of the blockade.

“It’s our duty to teach our kids, and this is a great way to do it,” said Brewer, whose own love of flying and aviation history was sparked when she read the tale of a pilot who overcame a troubled childhood to become a military airman. “We’re getting them out here to teach them something.”

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher

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