ELKHART — An annual gathering of Warbird aficionados at Elkhart Municipal Airport is starting to gain some momentum.
Two years after landing in Elkhart for its annual fall fly in, organizers hope to have 30 to 40 antique aircraft on display and performing aerial maneuvers Saturday.
The Elkhart Warbird Gathering starts at 7 a.m. and continues through the afternoon.
Admission is $10 per person or $30 for a car load and money will go toward offsetting the cost of fuel for the pilots.
Warbird is a term used to describe vintage military trainer, bomber or fighter aircraft dating back to World War 1 and through the Vietnam era, Marshall said.
Most of the aircraft featured Saturday are from the 1940s era.
For years, area warbird pilots hosted a fall gathering at the airfield in Shipshewana, but realized a few years ago they had outgrown the facility.
Chuck Marshall, an Elkhart pilot and an owner of warbirds, suggested they begin using the Elkhart airport.
Now that it has become a regular event at Elkhart, what was traditionally a private gathering is now a full-blown public event.
This year, they promoted it with fliers that were sent home with area students.
This year, organizers are hoping to attract several thousand people, said airport manager Andy Jones.
Airplanes at the fly-in will include Stearman biplanes, T-6s and others.
Gates open at 7 a.m. and planes will be on display until 10 a.m. on the airport’s newly re-constructed north ramp.
Formation flying contests featuring groups of four planes will begin around 10 a.m.
Pilots will then complete in a “flour bombing” contest beginning at about 2 p.m. The contest involves pilots dropping 2-pound flour bags on targets.
At 5 p.m., the ramp will reopen to give spectators another chance to see the aircraft up close, Jones said.
Spectators are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair for viewing.
Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association Post 132 will host a breakfast and serve brats and burgers in the afternoon.
Marshall and others differentiate the fly in from an air show. He points out that pilots are not being paid to perform and venders will not be selling typical festival food and wares, Marshall said.