Bowman Field Aviation & Military Heritage Festival

Doug Blakeman at the 2017 Aviation & Military Heritage Festival. Photo by Kathryn Harrington.

Louisville’s aviation history will be celebrated in spectacular fashion for the third year in a row. The Aviation & Military Heritage Festival, which occurs Oct. 6 and 7, allows people to get up close and personal with some of the most magnificent planes ever flown, but the festival has other exciting activities to offer, too. To learn more about this year’s event, we spoke with Pat MacDonald from the Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) board of directors and festival planning committee.


In many ways, the festival is very similar to the original one held in 2015. “The mission remains the same: protect, preserve and promote the rich military and aviation history of Bowman Field while also introducing today’s youth to aviation,” said MacDonald. “As we grow the festival, we work tirelessly to improve on the previous year’s event and incrementally add more excitement towards the entire guest experience. Unlike an airshow, the festival is a full immersion experience for our guests. They can walk, talk and interact with living history all the while enjoying a fun filled day inside the fences at historic Bowman Field. The planning team is laser-focused on making each year better and bigger than the past.”


“We are planning on having 40 to 50 planes on both static display and flying,” MacDonald revealed. “Like any aviation event, weather always remains the great unknown, so with good weather, we should have a wonderful range of planes to experience. Rides will be available on the Ford Trimotor, a B-25, a biplane and possibly one or two more aircrafts.”


The weekend-long gathering is definitely a family fun event, and there are so many ways to enjoy it in addition to the period planes. “We start the day at 8:30 a.m. with a run, walk or stroll around the field, the Bowman Field 4 Miler presented by (the Independent Pilots Association),” MacDonald explained. “The festival opens at 10 a.m. with many display booths, period singers, reenactors, play tent for the kids, food trucks, beer garden, vendor village, health screening, discovery flights, vintage automobiles and military exhibits. Also, Four Roses will be on hand sharing history which relates to the Golden Age and, of course, serving bourbon. There are so many things to come and experience.”


The Bowman Field 4 Miler benefiting Reach for Kids is a great kick-off to the weekend. “It’s a unique course around Bowman Field and the Seneca Park Loop,” said MacDonald. “It all starts in front of the historic Bowman Field terminal building and finishes in a dramatic stretch on the airfield! The race concludes with a pancake breakfast and a beverage on the airfield, and runners can stick around and enjoy the event with their race registration. There is also a free kid’s dash right after the 4 Miler, so the kids can get involved and earn their wings.”


Proceeds from the festival benefit the Bowman Field Aviation Heritage Foundation, Honor Flight Bluegrass and Vintage Warbirds. “Through the wonderful financial support provided by Humana Military, the festival will be able to provide rides in a B-25 Mitchell and TBM Avenger to some of our military veterans,” affirmed MacDonald. “Honor Flight Bluegrass does an exceptional job of organizing these flights for the veterans of Kentucky. Memories are shared, and stories are told. They can be contacted directly to arrange a flight.”

Being able to come inside the fences and experience Bowman Field is an exceptional opportunity. “Don’t miss the chance to spend a day mingling with history, family and friends,” MacDonald said. “The goal of the festival is to see history come to life, as well as to experience the vibrant world of aviation and honor our veterans.” VT

Aviation & Military Heritage Festival

Bowman Field

Oct. 6-7