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A huge weekend
Airfest part of packed Mega Motor Weekend
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Pictured is an aerial view of the 2012 Great Bend Airfest. The Barton County Commission Monday morning heard a report from City of Great Bend officials on the 2018 installment of the fest set for the end of this month.
This is a huge weekend for Great Bend. It will be a weekend Great Bend will not forget.
Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes

Great Bend Airfest is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the historic World War II Army Airbase in a big way with dozens of warbirds soaring the skies and lining the tarmac, the Barton County Commission learned Monday morning. The event takes place Friday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Great Bend Municipal Airport.

“This is a huge weekend for Great Bend,” Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said. “It will be a weekend Great Bend will not forget.”

The fest is part of what the city is calling the Mega Motor Weekend, Hayes said. It also includes the sixth-annual Hahn Brothers Motocross Shootout Sept. 28 and 29, and the National Hot Rod Association Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Sept. 27-30 (an event that could bring 800 dragsters to the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association Dragstrip). 

Local motels are already 95 percent full for that weekend, she said. The overflow will find lodging in surrounding communities.

Airfest admission is $10 per person per day, and kids 12 and under are free, and three-day passes are also available for $25. However, there are separate gate fees for the motocross event and for the Lucas Oil races.

The airfest

“The Commission is invited to attend the 2018 Great Bend Airfest celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Great Bend Army Airbase,” Hayes said. 

“Main attractions will include the world’s only two remaining B-29 bombers (Fifi and Doc) that will fly together for second time in 53 years, air shows and many other vintage war planes,” said Airport Manager Martin Miller. Great Bend’s 2018 Airfest will be the largest gathering of airworthy WW II and Korean Conflict warbirds anywhere in the central United States this year.

This year, the unique lineup of rare aircraft, flying demonstrations, and plane rides will make this even more popular than in previous events. “The B-29, P-51, C-45, Stearman, T-6, and helicopter will all be providing rides all three days,” Miller said. Costs for flights vary, but those who have flown say the flights are memorable, especially if they are history buffs. 

Miller said there will be 17 planes taking part in air shows, another eight on static display, and possibly over 100 other planes flown in by pilots wanting to see the event. That’s a lot of planes and the airspace over the airport will be closed four times during the event and radios will be monitored regularly to make sure the closures are enforced.

And, with all this traffic, they will have to hustle as planes land and takeoff. “It will be a bit of a hassle,” Miller said.

The airfest is a major production and is held every three years because of the cost, Hayes said. The last one took place in 2015.

Highlights include:

• Friday, Sept. 28: 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Educational tours, warbird and helicopter rides, historical displays, appearance of Ladies for Liberty, air show at 5:15 p.m.

• Saturday, Sept. 29: 8 a.m.-midnight

Pancake breakfast, fly in, touring of aircraft, warbird and helicopter rides, WW II re-enactors and equipment, veteran’s ceremony and missing man ceremony with fly over, live music and 40s-style dance with Ladies for Liberty and the J. Bennet Band, airs shows at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

First District Congressman Roger Marshall will be present to help honor the airfield and all American veterans during the special celebration. Following the second airshow of the day, dignitaries will make a few brief remarks before dance.

• Sunday, Sept. 30: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

There will also be many activities for children, including free tours for school kids on Friday, Miller said.

Helicopter and warbird rides, tours of aircraft and visiting with aircrews and historical displays, air show at noon.

View a complete schedule of events on the event website For more information, contact Miller at 620-793-4168.

The airport is located west of Great Bend at 9047 Sixth St. west of town. 


Great Bend Municipal Airport was constructed in the early 1940s as a World War II Army Air Force Base to accommodate the B-29 Superfortress bomber. With thousands of personnel involved the the base, it was a major influence in the local economy and society, Miller said.

After World War II, the airport was transferred to the City of Great Bend, and the City began to modify the facility to better serve civilian aviation. Located at the entrance to the Great Bend Municipal Airport, the B-29 Memorial Plaza is dedicated to everyone involved in building, flying and providing support for the bombers.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Heard a report about the  City of Great Bend’s Airfest Sept. 28-30.

• Approved helping the Great Bend Township to repair drainage issues in Bissell’s Point. 

Great Bend Township Officials have requested assistance with drainage issues in Bissell’s Point. County Works Director Darren Williams estimates the cost of equipment, labor and material at $30,263.

The problem is rain water that floods in the area of Summit Road and Point Drive. The project involves cleaning ditches and other improvements to allow that water to drain better.

“It’s great when the county can help out a township,” said commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz.

• Approved a bid from Abbey Carpet for $9,246.21 to replace the carpet in the Barton County administrator’s office and conference room. The carpet in the administrator’s office and the courthouse conference room was originally installed in 1984 and has deteriorated to the point it cannot be cleaned and needs to be replaced. Bids were received from Abbey Carpet, Kustom Floor Designs and Kern Floor Service, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.

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The B-29 bomber Fifi was a big attraction at the 2015 Great Bend Airfest. It, along with the only other flying B-29 (Doc) will be at the 2018 fest Sept. 28-30.