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Flying High

Bowman Field aviation festival
inspires next generation pilots

Rides in vintage aircraft to be offered at event

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 2019) – Combat fighter jets, vintage warbirds and huge commercial 767 jets – pilot Jeff Daus has flown them all. Daus spent 11 years in active military and 15 years in the reserves for a total of 26 years of service in the U.S. Navy. He retired in 2011 as an Admiral Select. He served in Desert Storm 1, Bosnia, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Northern Watch and was recalled to serve in the second Gulf War as the Center Chief, running night battles. Daus started flying for UPS while continuing his service in the reserves.
While that appears to be an exciting career, now it is the challenge of bringing aviation to a new generation that excites Daus, 56. He is one of the pilots who will be flying vintage warbirds at the fourth annual Bowmanfest,  Aviation and Military Heritage Festival planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6 at Louisville’s Bowman Field. The festival brings the gift of flight to youth and aviation enthusiasts.in the Louisville area.

Photo provided

From left are Jeff Daus, Pat MacDonald and Ret. Brig. Gen. Rob Givens at Bowman Field.

“The goal of the Aviation Festival is to inspire a new generation of pilots and other aviation careers,” said Patrick MacDonald, festival director. At 8:30 a.m., the gates open for a 5K run on the runway. The official event gates open at 10 a.m. with a free concert from 6-9 p.m. Saturday. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fifty planes from the early 1900s to modern aircraft of today will be featured. More than 10 planes will be available for rides. A helicopter ride is $35, while a World War II B-17 plane ride will be $1,500. Other military equipment and an encampment will be set up on the runway. Vintage cars will be featured with their same-era planes. Rosie the Riveter, The Ladies of Liberty vocal group, as well as bands will provide additional entertainment.   
Daus will be flying a Yak-52, a Russian-built training aircraft and a Short Tucano, a highly maneuverable turbo-prop training platform, among other types of aircraft.
“Vintage Warbirds is a non-profit organization designed to give back to the community,” Daus explained. He serves as the executive director. Then his enthusiasm turned the conversation back to young people. One of the displays will be a plane that kids have built – an RV-12 kit airplane. Kids from all walks of life, working together with pilots and mechanics from UPS have riveted together a real plane.
His message to parents is: “Get young people into aviation, and they will stay off drugs. Once they are hooked on flying, they won’t have enough money for drugs.” The whole festival is about getting the public to understand and touch aviation. “Flying Club 502 has had 20-30 kids solo, and 12-14 of them now are licensed. Many of these young pilots are girls,” Daus said proudly.
MacDonald, 54, grew up next to Bowman Field. Mesmerized by the planes and pilots, he went to the airport often. “On one occasion, I crossed a busy street to see the Goodyear Blimp. Unfortunately, a television news report on the blimp showed me in the background, talking to a pilot,” McDonald explained. “Where were you today” was the first question his Dad asked that night. “Busted,” MacDonald said with a laugh.
However, those experiences led him to an aviation career. Today, he is committed to bringing that same excitement and challenge young people in Louisville. “It is important to focus kids on something exciting, like aviation,” he said. “There is a shortage of pilots, mechanics, ground crew, air traffic control and all aviation related fields.”
Aviation is now the No. 1 industry in Kentucky, even surpassing bourbon. UPS is in Louisville and Amazon is in northern Kentucky. All airlines are need pilots; they are 300-500 pilots short due to retirement of baby boomers. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay kids to train in a feeder program to get them interested. Aviation careers offer high-paying jobs. Mechanics are always in demand,” Daus said.

Complete information about the Bowman Aviation and Military Heritage Festival is available online at www.bowmanaviationfest.com. It includes a link to purchase tickets. The festival is also on Facebook. Single-day admission is $10 and senior rate is $8 with expanded free parking available. The Family Four-pack is $30. Veterans and children under 5 are admitted free. Vintage Warbirds is also on Facebook. The Louisville Young Eagles, EAA Chapter 110, is another flying club, in addition to Flying Club 502. Interested individuals can find these flying clubs online and on Facebook.

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