Alliance Air Show brings wonder of flight to Fort Worth

By Daisy Silos

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts filled the Fort Worth Alliance Airport for the 27th annual Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show the weekend of Oct. 28-29. This world-class air show included performances from the Patriot Parachute Team, the Shockwave Jet Truck, and the United States Navy Blue Angels.

“Every year we’re fortunate to get a jet team, this year it’s the Blue Angels and next year we’ll have the Thunderbirds,” Christina Carey, special projects manager at Alliance Airport, said. “The Blue Angels are a big draw. They’re the main headliners of the event, and they come every other year. We’re very fortunate to have them. In addition, we have military and warbird aircraft on display, and over 50 aircrafts you can touch.”

This year the air show was themed, “A Tradition for the Future,” benefitting local non-profit organizations and supporting local school district STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

“The main purpose is to let people know it’s not just an airshow, because we’re involved with the local school districts we really wanted to showcase Fort Worth’s rich aviation heritage and provide an opportunity for students to learn about aviation locally and perhaps spark an interest in aviation,” Carey said. “Fort Worth is a big aviation cluster, so there’s a lot of companies out here looking to promote to younger students, so they can perhaps seek an interest in aviation in their school.”

The air show brought in several companies like Lockheed Martin and Cook Children’s Urgent Care Alliance to provide ground activities promoting activities inside the STEM Discovery Zone for the whole family to enjoy. One of the main attractions of the STEM Discovery Zone was a virtual reality demonstration that showed users how to build their own airplane.

“It is a virtual reality application that uses the basics of engineering and the forces of flight to help inform youngsters how they might have to go about building an airplane,” Lindsay Wilson, community relations manager for Lockheed Martin, said. “In the application itself, they have different parts they can pick and choose and then see how their plane flies. They have to think about some of the basic forces of flight and about what kind of plane they want to build. Then, they can test it afterwards and modify it based on what their experience was and what they want their plane to do.”

Andre Hill and his family all created planes using virtual reality. Hill enjoyed designing his plane and testing it out.

“This is my first time doing anything in virtual reality, so it was quite an experience for me. I really enjoyed it,” Hill said. “You had to basically build a plane and had to choose the middle section, wings and the engine. Then you’re supposed to hit targets. If you hit three of the targets, then you’re plane came down and flew right next to you. It was all in 3D, and it was really cool.”

Lockheed Martin wanted to showcase the type of work they do with the virtual reality application.

“I think we can all agree there’s nothing quite like learning by doing, so we wanted the youngsters to have an experience. They can really kind of go through the experience themselves like a really basic engineering process to see what it’s like to put a plane together,” Wilson said. “We’re really looking to inspire the next generation of engineers, and there’s no better place than in our hometown. We are hoping we’re getting some minds thinking in a new way this weekend and hopefully they’ll come work at Lockheed Martin someday.”