Aviation Discovery Fest receives positive feedback – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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The Dallas-based Commemorative Air Force made significant changes to its Veterans Day celebration this year, foregoing its choreographed airshow following last year’s tragic mid-air collision.

Organizers say the response has been positive, and they feel the right decision was made.

101-year-old World War II veteran John Luckadoo said the sound of airplanes taking off Sunday brought back memories.

“We were very young when we were called upon to defend out freedom and protect our badges,” said Luckadoo.

He’s attended the Commemorative Air Force Veterans Day celebration in Dallas for the past several years.

“It’s special because it’s essential that the younger generation realize that sacrifices were made,” he said.

He was just as pleased with the series of events this year as in previous years, even though it looks slightly different. The change was even reflected in the name – ‘Aviation Discovery Fest.’  – focusing on more ground activities.

Leah Block is VP of marketing for the Commemorative Air Force. The decision to forego the usual ‘Wings Over Dallas’ choreographed air show was made early out of respect for the crewmembers tragically lost last year.

Six people died after two historic World War II-era military planes crashed mid-air during the ‘Wings Over Dallas’ Airshow in November of 2022.

“It’s been an emotional weekend for a lot of us,” said Block. “Staff were impacted, friends were impacted, families were impacted. We definitely wanted to do something, but we also felt really strongly that we needed to acknowledge what happened last year.”

In January of this year, the Federal Aviation Administration audio revealed the final moments before the crash. The NTSB released a preliminary report naming several contributing factors.

While the community healed, organizers felt it was appropriate to honor fallen crewmembers by creating an atmosphere of education and inspiration.

“It’s a lot of mixed emotions, but it feels like we did the right thing to have an event this year,” Block said. “There aren’t too many events where you can get multiple generations in the same space all having a great time, and that’s what we’re able to offer, and I think it’s pretty awesome.”

The choreographed air show is expected to return in 2024.

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