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Posted: 8/24/2004 8:36:42 PM EST
Warbirds swarming, ready to land
By Janene Scully -- Associate Editor

8/23/04 The 14th Annual Warbird Round-up will land at the Santa Maria Public Airport this weekend, a month earlier than in recent years.

The gathering of aircraft had been held in September, but the Santa Maria Museum of Flight decided to move up the date this year. It had been switched to after Labor Day at the request of the former management of the Radisson hotel.

The event serves as the museum's annual fund-raiser.

This year, planes will begin arriving Friday and stay until Sunday on the ramp behind the Radisson Hotel.

"I don't know exactly what the mix is," Weber said.

Some 50 aircraft are expected, ranging from F-14 and F-18 fighter jets to vintage P-51 Mustangs. Organizers hope to line up a B-1 bomber fly-by and an in-flight refueling of a helicopter.

Due to aircraft mechanical issues, military schedules and weather, organizers can't be certain which aircraft will attend until they show up.

The event is primarily designed for static displays of historic aircraft, but some fly-bys are planned Saturday and Sunday.

Planes begin arriving mid-day Friday and can be viewed for free. From 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., a vintage Ford Mustang car and a vintage World War II-era P-51 Mustang fighter will be staged near each other for photos.

Friday night, a barbecue pork rib dinner will be at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, 3015 Airpark Drive. Tickets cost $15 at the door or $12 if purchased early.

After dinner, the Tuskegee Airmen display will be dedicated, and retired Army Air Force Lt. Col. William H. "Bill" Holloman will be the guest speaker.

A full day is planned for Saturday with gates opening at 9 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children ages 7-12 and free for those 6 and under.

The assortment of planes -- both vintage warbirds and modern-day military aircraft -- will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday morning also will mark the annual Plane Pull, benefiting Special Olympics. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. on the tarmac south of the hotel. Teams will try to pull an F-4 Phantom. For more information, go to www.torchrun.net/planepull.html.

Saturday night, a Santa Maria-style barbecue is planned at the museum with no-host cocktail hour beginning at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15 at the door, or $12 if purchased early.

Sunday morning, the museum continues its traditional pancake breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tickets cost $6.

Planes will be on display starting at 9 p.m. with tickets costing $4 for adults, $3 for children 7 to 12 and free for those 6 and under.

Pre-sale tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight. For more information, call 922-8758.


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