Billows of gray cross the sky as the spellbound crowd “ooohs and ahhhs” over the dramatic twists and turns as the airplane performs the Unlimited Sequence while blasting smoke into the fading sunlight. The thundering roar of the engines pulsates in the ears as the pilot brings the airplane to within 350 feet of the ground and then points straight to the heavens going into the next maneuver.
The Borrego Akrofest, held the second weekend of October, once again drew enthusiastic crowds to Borrego Valley Airport. Qualifying and inspections took place on Friday with competition on Saturday. One could feel the excitement increase across the tarmac as the pilots performed their respective assignments - doing snap rolls, or walking the hammerhead - an event accurately described as "an aerial ballet in the sky." While some pilots were performing their aerobatics in the skies over Borrego, others on the ground presented ground school instruction to more than 40 kids, all excited with the prospect of flying as a Young Eagle with the EAA.
Free Hot dogs and hamburgers, chips, and beverages were provided on Thursday by Chapter 36 of the Hammerheads. Kids also received a Chapter 36 T-shirt and certificate.
The basic flying started in the early morning hours, and as temperatures rose, the competition moved into the intermediate flying with the somewhat more seasoned pilots performing their routines. With their own performance scheduled for later in the day, the advanced pilots served as judges on the ground. Ultimately, the unlimited pilots (the more advanced) geared up and took to the sky to fly the unknown sequence - the final event. The flying concluded on Friday just in time for the Sundowner - a social event that featured a band, as well as food and drinks provided by the Borrego Chamber of Commerce. Saturday, it was the awards banquet and weekend gala.
AeroFest is sponsored by Chapter 36 of the Hammerheads.
Borrego Valley Airport is located at 1820 Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs, and is one of eight County of San Diego Airports.