OU's Max Westheimer Airport in Norman is normally quiet on the weekends, but Saturday, pilots, young and old, took to the airstrip to get up close to machines often out of reach.
“It's a thrill, it's an adventure. I think men, women have always kind of been enamored with the sky,” OU Aviation Director Ken Carson said.
Since 9/11, security measures at airports have gotten tighter and experts say it's one of the factors that's led to a nationwide shortage of pilots and air traffic controllers.
Carson said in an effort to reverse the shortage, the Sooner aviation community decided to begin hosting an open house that turned into the festival.
Started in 2006, the air festival shows off dozens of modern and vintage planes, emergency vehicles and helicopters, including Bob Mills SkyNews 9. None of the aircraft took to the sky, but children could test out their skills in a simulator and see the how and why aircraft fly.
“I wanted him to learn a lot about aircrafts and aviation. I picked up the brochure and it says a lot about stem which was so vital it seems like for education now,” said one father who brought his young son to the festival.
OU’s aviation program is hoping to have an even larger turnout in 2016 for the program’s 75th anniversary and the festival’s tenth year, Carson said.
“Amelia Earhart said once, 'once you've seen the earth from the sky, you just see things differently,'” Carson said.