AirFest Wraps Up Successful Weekend Despite Some Hitches

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After an 11-year hiatus, Rockford Airfest returns with a bang, drawing in about 50,000 patrons, and flying in sky high expectations for 2006.

"For our first attempt at it, I think everybody is pretty happy. We had a few bumps in the road Friday night; we literally had a midnight meeting. We sat down and figured how to straighten them out and yesterday and today ran pretty smooth," Airfest organizer Dave Lindberg said.

While transporting planes was easy, transporting thousands on buses to remote parking lots was a little trickier, raising concerns from some in attendance. Airfest organizers say working out minor kinks, and making next year show hassle-free is the top priority.

"We want to look at where there were choke points, where the lines were a little too big, how we can handle the crowds a little bit better," Lindberg said.

However, a vast majority attending Airfest was pleasantly surprised, with the setup, and the wide-ranging fleet of aerobatic wonders.

"The stealth bomber didn't make it today. It was here for the last two days but didn't make it today. That would have been nice, but the high side of it was the F-15," Henry DeCoto said.

"We had a lot of manufacturing that we lost. We gained some of it back, and I think people realize when they come to the city how beautiful it is. This is one of the great things they have to show for it," Kimberly Sparks said. And after a weekend devoid of criminal altercations and packed with airborne buzz, management can't wait to again go full throttle with the festivities.

"Everyone seemed to be laughing, having fun. A lot of families with their kids, little kids pointing to the airplanes, that's great because the community really needs this kind of event," Lindberg said.

A high flying show set for take off from RFD for at least the next four years.