Dads, families enjoy weekend

Walter Danko of Champion, left, spent Father’s Day with his family, including a son, Devin Danko, 17, looking at planes and other displays Sunday at the Thunder Over the Valley Air Show in Vienna. Severe storms shortened the event.

VIENNA — Heavy rain and the cancellation of the Thunder Over the Valley Air Show didn’t dampen the spirits of local families who spent time Sunday afternoon with their dads for Father’s Day.

While many families spent part of the day taking shelter from the rain, they were still able to see aircraft and various parts of planes inside hangars and buildings at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.

The storms kept the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force’s official air demonstration team, from getting off the ground. But a few other planes, including those flown by the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, were able to fly earlier in the day.

Brian Watson of Kinsman was with his two daughters , Lindsay Watson, 5, and Lacey Watson, 8, his wife, Alicia, and his father-in-law, Kenny Wilson of Gustavus, as they looked at planes inside a large hangar.

”We drove on state Route 11 yesterday and saw all the planes in the air. We were amazed at what we saw. My girls have only flown twice so to see all this up close was great,” said Alicia Watson, whose grandfather, Craig Wilson, at one time worked at the base for the phone company and flew planes.

”You really appreciate an event like this knowing what so many have done during the wars using planes like some of these,” Kenny Wilson said.

Walter Danko of Champion spent the day with his sons, Logan, 14, and Devin, 17, and his father, Walter Danko Sr. of Champion, a Vietnam Air Force veteran.

”My kids and my dad are here. We wanted to see the Thunderbirds. They were on the runway but didn’t get off the ground,” Walter Danko said.

Walter Danko Sr. said most the planes were too new and not like the ones he remembered from his time serving in the military.

Jim Pappada of Howland was accompanied by his two children, Leo, 8, and Layla, 5, and wife, Stacey. The four waited inside a hangar doorway for the heavy rain to subside.

”We wanted to get out for a day of fun for Father’s Day. Leo wanted to see the Thunderbirds and the big planes. They started them up and then it started raining so they didn’t go up,” Jim Pappada said.

Lordstown resident Polly Batchelder, along with her mother, Mia Batchelder, came to the show to spend time with her father, Harry Batchelder, who has served in the U.S. Navy.

”We were going to watch the Thunderbirds together. My dad is familiar with the military,” Polly Batchelder said.

Ted Stephens of Sebring was inside one large hangar with his family waiting for the weather to clear.

”My brother was an Air Force pilot so I am familiar with planes. I wanted the family to see them because they have never been to an air show. But the weather has changed a lot of that,” he said.

Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., superintendent of public affairs at the local military installation, said the weather played an unfortunate factor in Sunday’s attendance as people left when the severe storms hit. Even so, the shuttle service and parking went well.

Saturday’s sunny skies drew a crowd of between 12,000 and 13,000 people. Attendance figures for Sunday were not available.

”Saturday was picture perfect. On Sunday, the weather went to hell in a handbasket and we can’t control that,” Barko said.

Efforts were made to get the Thunderbirds in the air at 1 p.m., earlier than scheduled, but weather conditions changed quickly, keeping the team down.

Barko said the 2014 show was also canceled due to weather even more severe than Sunday’s.

Before one was held in 2009, the local military installation had not seen an air show since 1983, Barko said. There was an air show in 2014, and open houses last year and in 2008.

”When we held an open house last June which was successful so we decided to have the air show in June. We want to try and do this show every three years,” he said.

Barko said this years’ show was built around the Air Force’s 70th birthday.

“When we come to plan this again for 2020, it’ll be a completely different show,” he said.