Organizers race to prepare for the Madras airshow

The Madras Pioneer
The Madras Pioneer
 2022-08-17 A brigade of 300 volunteers hustle to transform the airport for the signature event

With the airshow a little more than a week away, volunteers rush to ready the Madras Municipal Airport for one of the county's biggest events of the year: the Airshow of the Cascades.

"We're taking a working airport and transforming it into an event," said Rick Allen, who books the high flying acts for the show. The show plays Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 and 27. It takes a swarm of 300 volunteers to set up the airfield, host the 15,000 to 20,000 people who attend the show, and return the airport to its original condition. The nuts and bolts of physically setting up the show begins Sunday, Aug. 21. "People think of the Friday and Saturday," said Allen, "but what they forget is the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and next Sunday."

They start with the eight fish fryers for the Friday night fish fry. They roll them out of storage and onto to tarmac to wash them, and make sure they all work. "They have to be working because 100 to 200 people line up on Friday night to get their fish and chips," said Allen. "We sell out at a thousand, so people want to be first in line." Attendees probably don't notice all the blocks that hold down the tents. Moving those blocks involves a semitruck and forklifts, both on loan from Daimler Trucks. Daimler trailers also mark the fly area for the performing air acts. Daimler trailers will park on the extreme north, south and west ends of the airfield beside 50-foot by 60-foot red tarps that pilots can easily see from the air. Starting Monday and Tuesday, Madras ambassadors will meet the pilots flying in to the Redmond and Madras airports and outfit them with rental cars to get them around on the ground.

Public relations volunteers set up media interviews with the pilots to promote the airshow and the branch of the military the pilots represent. Volunteers set up the fencing, the tents, some chairs and tables. (NOTE: the venue does not provide chairs for everyone. Attendees are advised to bring their own chairs.) Tens of thousands of people need a lot of outhouses, which somebody has to put in place. Moving people around the airfield requires 30 golf carts and the volunteers to drive them. The sound system requires custom attention. "It has to be heard across the whole airport," said Allen, "and we're long and skinny." Someone needs to mow the parking areas and stripe the spaces. "Helicopters create a rotor wash which sends debris everywhere," said Allen. "So, we keep things as clean as possible." Lighting. The airshow requires special lighting so people can see their way back to their cars once the sun sets. The Federal Aviation Administration comes on Wednesday to coordinate closing the space over the airshow. During the airshow and prior to the airshow, all air traffic must go around the Madras airspace.

The Daimler campus sits so close to the airport that Daimler employees must vacate their building during the airshow and the Thursday rehearsal. Allen says the employees come over and watch the Thursday practice run. Thursday, Aug. 25, the kickoff party starts at 5:30 p.m. ends at 8:00 p.m. A $10 ticket buys you a reception with the pilots, live music, and sandwiches at the Erickson Aircraft Collection. Friday, Aug. 26, the gates open at 2 p.m. and the show closes at 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, the gates open at 9 a.m. and the show closes at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, volunteers tear down the tents, the lighting, the fencing, put the fish fryers and everything else away.

Monday, Aug, 29, the crew starts planning for next year's airshow. Tickets for the airshow cost $20 online, $25 at the gate, $32 for a two-day pass. Youth ages 6 to 12 cost $6 online, $10 at the gate, $10 for a two-day pass.

Veterans with ID and children under age 5 are free.

To purchase tickets or sign up to volunteer go to People who want to volunteer can also call (541) 475-0155.

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