COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More than 20,000 people showed up for the 17th annual Thunder in the Valley Air Show in Columbus on Saturday. Pilots and planes from all over the country visited the Columbus Air Port to dazzle the crowd all weekend with stunning aerobatic shows.
Robert Kemp, the community relations chair for the Thunder in The Valley said the air show helped build a great reputation for Columbus, and brings positive economic impact to the city.
"We bring in a lot of people," Kemp said. "We book hundreds of hotel rooms and many visit our local restaurants. This event brings great things to our community."
Just like in 2013, the U.S. Military could not participate in the air show due to budget cuts. Although the show is under the same restriction this year, Kemp said something new was brought to the show instead.
"We don't have any active duty U.S. Military jets," Kemp said. "However, we got other jets that are privately owned. Some of these used to be former military jets. These will be screening through the sky this weekend. This is the new change we brought to the show this year."
Kemp said dozens of pilots already signed up to perform the Thunder in the Valley for 2015. Kyle Franklin from Franklin's Flying Circus in Missouri performed in the air show in 2005 with his father. Since then, Franklin built an airplane with his father from scratch. It took him nine years to built it, and Franklin finally came back to the Thunder in the Valley to show off his new plane and new moves.
"The airplane is brand new," Franklin said. "I finished it maybe two years ago. I named it Dracula. I built it from scratch. One of a kind. I know this plane inside and out, and it was fun to make."
Federal Aviation Administration was also on site for the air show. Kemp said it is important for the people to follow strict rules in order to stay safe.
"In the U.S. there has not been a spectator injured or killed in any air show in over 60 years," Kemp explained. "This is because we follow safety rules. Safety is number one, and we do all that we can to protect everyone."
Kemp explained that the funds collected from this week's airs show will go to local charities that will help children in need.