The preparations are nearing completion. The final details are being fine tuned. And the planes will begin arriving for the 2013 Big Bear Air Fair. 

Celebrating aviation history, the Big Bear Air Fair is Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Big Bear City Airport. Gates open at 7 a.m., with an opening ceremony featuring skydivers, presentation of colors and more set for 9 a.m. Admission is $2 per person.

Planes representing myriad generations, from war birds to a corporate jet will be on display. Many of the craft are open for guests to walk through, according to Gary Conder, Air Fair coordinator. “I think that’s what will be a big draw,” Conder said. “There’s even a reproduction of the Fokker Triplane that the Red Baron flew in World War I.”

Aircraft set to make an appearance at the event include a P-47 Thunderbolt, F3F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearacat, Mk XIV Spitfire and Zero, and a pair of B-25s. Movie and television stars are also expected to fly in to Big Bear City Airport.

The B-25 Executive Suite was seen in the movie “Catch-22” among others. The PT-17 was featured in the TV show “JAG” and the PT-17 from the movie “Pearl Harbor” is also scheduled to be at the show.

In addition to classic aircraft, classic cars are also on display. Aviation vendors, community organizations and more will have booths at the fair. For kids, there is face painting, spray and glitter tattoos and a balloon artist.

Airport general manager Pete Gwaltney said the Air Fair exposes people to aviation and the airport. Gwaltney said each of the military planes coming to the Air Fair have been in active service with a branch of the U.S. military, and many have seen combat.

In addition to the many planes on display, visitors to the Air Fair will be able to get a ride in a PT-17 Steerman biplane. Helicopter Big Bear will also give rides. The rides are not included in the admission price. Other attractions include a variety of aviation groups and a flight simulator that covers everything from dogfights to a trip to space. Several food vendors will also be on site to handle the hunger of the spectators.

The larger aircraft begin to make their way to Big Bear as early as Friday, Aug. 23. Smaller planes arrive the morning of the air show.

Big Bear Valley Composite Squadron 6750 Civil Air Patrol presents the colors to begin the opening ceremonies. The Mountain Fife and Drums from Lake Arrowhead follow. Just in Time Skydivers arrive from above. The team specializes in stunts, so keep your eyes peeled to the sky.

At the close of the Air Fair at 4 p.m., the planes take off for home starting around 5 p.m. “It’s quite a thing to see and hear,” Gwaltney said. “It’s really impressive to hear the motors fire up and each plane take off. Stanfield (Cutoff) and Greenway (Drive) will be like parking lots. People line up to watch.”

Big Bear City Airport is at 501 W. Valley Blvd., Big Bear City. Offsite parking is available and shuttles to the airport provided by MARTA.

—Judi Bowers

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